Thursday, August 21, 2008

late night meetings

I'm leaving for Europe Tuesday morning (Did I really just say that?). Scotland, Wales, England, Germany, and France ... here we come! Life is busy in this pre-travel week. I'm drafting/editing a book which I will probably turn in ten minutes before we leave for the airport, which will leave me those ten minutes for packing. No time for blogging now, but watch next week for a description I'll no doubt have of my first footsteps on "the motherland." (I'm a Scottish lass, born of the surname Douglas, don't you know.)

Here's one from the files.

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. Collectively, all that noise 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.

One night several years ago (long after we'd moved into our home and given away that little travel trailer), I felt that familiar nudge and rose to meet with God. But the moment I sat down--before I could even open my Bible--I felt a strong impression to repeat a favorite scripture: When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. --Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV)

I didn't know why I felt such an urgency to speak that verse, but I said it anyway. And then I said it again ... and again. For an entire hour, my mind was completely trained on that one truth from Scripture, and all I could do was sit in the stillness of my living room and repeat the words over and over. I have never before or since felt a leading to pray that way, but it was clear on that night that God would have me do nothing else.

It was 3:30 when I stopped. Though I felt completely energized, as if I'd just taken the most wonderful nap and was ready to face my day, I also felt so at peace that I knew I'd fall asleep as soon as I sank down into my pillow ... and I did.

The next day, a friend called me. As our conversation progressed, she kept yawning into the phone.

"Tired?" I asked, laughing.

"I am," she said. "I haven't been sleeping well. I keep waking up in the middle of the night."

"Me, too," I said. "In fact, I was up last night."

"I was, too," my friend said.

I then explained what had happened the night before. "It was the strangest thing, but I felt completely riveted, completely focused on repeating those words: When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him."

I heard a long pause on the other end. And then she asked, "Exactly what time were you up?"

"From 2:30 to 3:30."

The pause lengthened, and when my friend spoke again, I heard tears in her voice. "God had you up praying for me." She had awakened at 2:00 with a heart so heavy, it drove her to the bathroom floor, where she lay sobbing and trying to pray. She didn't share the exact nature of her grief. She simply said that life felt too hard; hope seemed too distant. She felt utterly overwhelmed, she said, by a flood of worry, fear and despair. Until suddenly, at 3:30, the darkness fled, the heaviness lifted and she felt awash in peace. And at the same moment that I rose from my couch and returned to my pillow, my friend rose from the floor and returned to hers.

I am often completely taken aback by the knowledge that the God who dreamed up gravity and love, who thought to put spots on a giraffe and devotion in the heart of a puppy, who named and then scattered the stars in the sky, would watch me sleep ... and wake me to meet Him ... and invite me to put my two hands next to His on the plow.

What kind of God is this?


6 Comment:

At 8/21/2008 8:07 PM, Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience had this to say ...

May all your travels lead you higher up and deeper into Him, Shannon...

God's been pressing you into my heart of late.
Please know I am praying for you.

I send more love than these thin little lines and archs can hold...

All's grace,

At 8/21/2008 10:59 PM, Blogger Dorci Harris had this to say ...

Oh thank you, Shannon.

Have a wonderful trip! (Say hi to France for me and tell her I'll get there one of these years. ;o) )

At 8/22/2008 9:36 AM, Blogger Sonja had this to say ...

What an exciting opportunity! You will be in my prayers. Enjoy it to its fullest...highs, lows and everything in between.

At 8/22/2008 8:58 PM, Blogger Gwenn M. had this to say ...

I just stumbled across your blog. I loved the latest entry. I, too, have been awakened in the middle of the night many times and felt the strong urge to pray--usually over my husband.

At 8/23/2008 12:49 PM, Anonymous karen had this to say ...

A scottish lass myself who has never gotten to the homeland, ENJOY - it is so beautiful!

I have had trouble sleeping for the past couple of years...entirely new to me as I was told for years that I snored before my head hit the pillow LOL... I know I have shared my son passing away with you already but it was since then and I understand it is part of grieving...but after fighitng and fighting to fall asleep I am usually led to pray. Who knows what occurs by those prayers; you were blessed to have your friend tell you... What kind of God is this? A truly awesome, mysterious, almighty, all knowing, One who reigns from Heaven above in ways we cannot understand for He cannot be contained!

Kiss the blarney stone too, i'm 1/4 Irish as well. :)


At 9/02/2008 8:02 PM, Blogger Susan Kelly Skitt had this to say ...

I got chills reading this. I too have experienced those precious hours with the Lord. How amazing that He impressed on your heart to pray that Scripture! And Praise Him that He used it to minister peace to your friend. God's good.


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