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Wednesday, August 17, 2005


late night meetings

A few years back, I went through an extended period of insomnia. Several times a week, I'd wake between 2:00 and 3:30 a.m. The realization that I'd lost my grip on unconsciousness never failed to irritate me. I fought it as best as I could. I'd keep one eye closed as I navigated my way across our bedroom and into the bathroom, hoping to fool the other eye into believing we were still asleep. It rarely worked. I'd stumble back to bed, resume my best falling-to-sleep position, and lay there for long minutes, or an hour, or two--wondering what in the world was wrong with me that I couldn't sleep through the night.

But it occurred to me, one night, that maybe I wasn't waking up at all. Maybe I was being awakened.

"Is it You, Lord?" I asked. "Are You waking me?"

I tried to come up with a reason why God would want to interrupt my r.e.m. sleep. After rejecting "practical joke" and "health sabotage," I was left with the only reasonable conclusion: He missed me. Perhaps we hadn't had enough "us" time during the day, and He waited until dark to get me alone.

I decided I'd go with that. "Lord, from now on, if I wake in the middle of the night ... I'll know it's You."

He took me up on that offer.

During this time, we gave away our mobile home and moved into a teeny travel trailer, which was to be our dwelling for the six months it would take to build our new house. It wasn't the ideal situation for middle-of-the-night rousings, but I long ago gave up arguing with God. If He wanted me to ease myself inch by slow inch across Dave's snoring body and grope around in the darkness for my robe and slippers, then so be it.

I took to keeping a square of tin foil near the dining table so I could mold it around the plastic light cover, allowing only a small, directed beam of light to leak downward and onto the pages of my Bible. Somewhere deep, I've clutched the sounds of my sleeping family, a slumbering earth, and the gathering storm of water heating in my tea kettle. All that noise, collectively, created the most peaceful silence I've known.

I'd sip my cocoa and read, and listen. God never failed to speak to me in those quiet hours. Sometimes He'd speak to a specific need in my life; most nights He just told me He loved me. We doubtful beings never stop needing that reminder, and He knows that.

I learned a great deal about the heart of God in those late night meetings--and all the meetings since.

He woke me last night at 3:12. This time, He wanted to discuss three specific topics. Two are private--do you assume I share everything with you?--but I'll tell you the third. He wanted to talk about the Navy. And no, I'm not thinking of enlisting. Oddly, they're not recruiting scarf-knitting, herb-gardening, bread-baking 44-year old sailors these days. But it looks like I'm going aboard, nonetheless.

I'm about to get a "yes" answer to a four-year old request. Early in 2001, after touring the USS Lincoln (which floats off-shore about twenty minutes from here) and talking briefly with two or three female sailors, I left with a strong desire to come back and teach a women's Bible study. I felt such an urgency to do this that I immediately began gathering information. I talked first to the half-dozen enlisted men and women in our fellowship, but none could direct me as to how to set things in motion. So I checked the website and collected a few names and numbers. Before I could make a single call, though, the door slammed right in my face. 9-11 happened. And understandably, security on the Navy base ramped up to where civilians couldn't even walk across the parking lot, let alone onto the ship. We'd drive by the gates and stare at the armed soldier atop a tank, who would clutch his weapon and stare back at us. I had to let go of my plan.

But this is four years later. The tank is gone; the urgency is back. And so I approached two of our Navy men at church and asked them both what I should do. One of them, Matt, took matters into his hands and spoke directly with the chaplain, who latched right onto the idea and asked Matt to pass on his cell phone number.

I didn't call right away. Oh, I jumped up and down and clapped my hands and squealed a bit, but when the dust settled, so did my enthusiasm. Logic began to taunt me. What are you thinking? it whispered. Women's ministry is starting up again ... you have a 4-book proposal due in September ... speaking engagements loom. How can you possibly add another weekly commitment to your schedule?

So I waited. I waited all day, even knowing the chaplain expected my call. And all day, my heart felt like a brick inside my chest.

And then, last night, God tapped my shoulder and said, I'm here. I mostly listened, at first, and simply enjoyed the knowledge of His presence. But then He brought the Navy to mind, and I became conscious of that brick again.

"Lord, is this a check from You, or just the squirming of my flesh?" I asked. And then I asked Him to see this opportunity from His perspective. I wanted to know His heart on the subject, not mine.

He lifted the brick. I felt the weight leave me, and felt joy slip in to replace the empty spot. God paraded a steady stream of thought past my mind; I remembered Paul, who taught all night, revived a dead man who had fallen out the window (during Paul's teaching, no less), talked with that same man till morning, and then walked all day to his next destination. I remembered Jesus retreating from the crowd because He was so tired, but then returning to meet their needs because compassion compelled Him past that exhaustion. I saw a circle of young women waiting to be fed from God's Word, and realized that at any moment, those women--and my chance to know them--could sail away. And I realized that I'll have all of eternity to rest, and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

So today, I'm making a phone call. And if all goes well, I'll be walking the plank (in the right direction) sometime in the next month or so.

If you ask me, it's about time.

I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking ... --Song 5:2 NASU

Labels:

19 Comment:

At 8/18/2005 9:16 AM, Blogger Pam had this to say ...

Shannon,

I salute you!!

*¿*

 
At 8/18/2005 11:42 AM, Blogger Fishkrisser <> had this to say ...

Ten 4 good buddy,

When I went to my other church I had a bunch of friends that were on the Lincoln that were Christians and they started a Bible study when they were there I know they got it to grow extremely large and that there is a desire there to get into the word. I'm encouraged by you doing this because I know how much this will mean to those there now.

Over and out.

 
At 8/18/2005 2:58 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess had this to say ...

One word--FABULOUS! I will be praying for your Bible study class. I have never served in the armed forces, but I have been to dry places before. Places that had no wells of kindness or table laden with God's food. These places gave me empty calories and I did not know I was starving until I left there. Your Bible Study will be a river in the desert.

Gina Burgess
P.S.
I truly enjoy your place, Shannon. I have linked you, I hope you don't mind.

 
At 8/18/2005 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

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At 8/18/2005 3:55 PM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Hey Shannon,
I love that you saw God in those middle-of-the-night awakenings. Sort of like little Samuel of Bible fame, hmmm?

It sounds like He has your full attention re. the Navy thing. Goferit!

 
At 8/18/2005 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

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At 8/18/2005 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8/18/2005 4:06 PM, Blogger Fishkrisser <> had this to say ...

I noticed that you got a link to a hip hop rap video site. I can see you visiting that all the time. HA, NOT!!! Oh yeah I forgot to mention to you earlier that you have inspired me to read the Bible more. I can never seem to fall asleep till 3 or so and have been neglectful lately to my study time :(...Maybe that is why I can't seem to fall asleep. "He" sure moves in mysterious ways.

 
At 8/18/2005 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8/18/2005 4:55 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Now why would you assume I'm not the baddest hip hopper out there, Fish? Do you know everything about me? Huh?

I tell you, these spammers are making me mad. That's three I've received on just this post. I delete them as fast as they come in.

I'm glad you're getting fed more regularly ... :)

 
At 8/18/2005 8:48 PM, Blogger YellowRose had this to say ...

Wow Shannon, your post really made me think. I wake up all the time during the night. When I do, I get aggravated because I think about the sleep I am missing. Your post was like thump on my head saying.."DUH!" Thanks,...I really enjoy your site so much!

 
At 8/18/2005 9:18 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Hello Pam--and thanks for the salute!

Chris, that's an encouragement. I can't wait to get started.

Hi again, Gina. You're quite a writer! Your comment was beautiful.

Yes, Bonnie, I feel very Samuel-ish in the middle of the night. :)

I know what you mean, Yellow Rose. I used to be so aggravated until I caught on to what was happening. Thanks for your nice words!

 
At 8/18/2005 11:50 PM, Anonymous Mrs.Mitchell had this to say ...

thank you for writing this and for sharing..

 
At 8/19/2005 5:06 AM, Blogger Geekwif had this to say ...

Well, once again you've hit the nail on the head. I think I'll keep coming back here and reading your posts. :-) Not only are they well written and inspiring, but they are relevant.

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I keep waking up at ungodly hours with thoughts of home-building racing through my head and they simply won't go away. Usually I get up and browse blogs, or post my own, or play a silly game for a while - which usually means a couple of hours - before I can get back to sleep.

Last night I got up and spent some time with God instead. He led me to Hebrews 4 and John 4 and spoke to me about rest and refreshment as I fell asleep right there on the couch.

I've decided your way is better. :-) Thanks so much for sharing.

 
At 8/19/2005 5:59 AM, Anonymous Pam D. had this to say ...

I just found your blog last week -- it's been said a lot on here, but your writing is beautiful, Shannon. You have a poetic and heartwarming way with words that I love.
Just wanted to add...I've often had insomnia problems too, left frustrated because God didn't seem to answer my prayers to let me fall back asleep. Until, like you, it occurred to me that He was purposely waking me...only for me it's to pray and intercede. So now when those wakeful times come each night I ask Him to tell me who needs prayer. He fills my heart with so much prayer during those times, giving me a glimpse of His heart for those I lift up, and even brings tears to my eyes. There's something wondrous about praying in the middle of the night, too...a feeling that only you and God are awake and He is wanting to pour His heart into someone's sleeping spirit as you take His hands to pray for them. It's wonderful to fall asleep praying that way...and always amazes me to see how He somehow gives me the rest I need in the middle of it.

 
At 8/19/2005 9:18 AM, Blogger Nancy had this to say ...

I have found that when I either can't fall right to sleep or wake in the middle of the night I take deep yoga breathes and I start to pray, next thing I know I am waking up to the alarm. Which in some ways makes me feel guilty because I haven't finished my prayers!

 
At 8/19/2005 11:07 AM, Blogger Pilot Mom had this to say ...

Shannon, I came over from Gina's. I am so excited to hear this good news! I come from an AF background and our son is in the AF stationed at a Naval station right now (4 months away from getting those pilot wings). All the services need solid Bible teaching but I think the Navy especially...it is so hard since they deploy for such long periods of time. I enjoy your site. I'm going to poke around and read a bit more, if you don't mind! Joy to you today!

 
At 8/24/2005 9:58 PM, Blogger supermom had this to say ...

Shortly after my ex-husband abandoned our home, my mother and I experienced the same thing. My mother and I lived 1 hr and 45 minutes from each other so it was strange. We would talk about how we would pray endlessly and miraculously be able to function in the morining. Several nights, we both were led to pray for my ex with urgency. A few months later, he told me that he had been contemplating suicide and was often at the point of pulling the trigger. God is always on time. He had awakened us for a purpose. Seven years later, the father of my children is still with the woman that he committed adultery with and wants nothing to do with the Lord, but I know one day he will come back to the Lord. Until then, I see our Heavenly Father waiting for his return at the road where he departed...

 
At 10/08/2005 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Have you ever seen Asparagus this BIG
They grow up to 15in long and 2in wide.
fall gardening

 

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