February 24, 2014

In the Night Watches...

Over the years, I have heard many people say, "The Lord woke me up in the middle of the night..." Claims like these always make me bit uneasy, because I'm not sure God is always the one awakening us. Of course, in the greater scheme of life, the Lord is with our "going out and coming in" (Psalm 121:8). And we know that He is ultimately in control of everything, in His divine sovereignty. But in the Bible, we see God awakening His people only a few times, mostly by visions or angelic messages (think: Ezekiel, Zechariah). So more often than not, I believe we are awakened by humanly circumstances (e.g. a crying baby, an illness, a loud noise).

For example, last night, I was awakened around 2:30am. I am inclined to think that my early-staged chest cold rattled me to life with a ragged cough struggling escape my lungs. But lest I waste the "awakened at 2:30" experience, I decided to honor the Lord in the night watches.

After going to the bathroom, hacking up said lung, and lying back down...I was wide awake. As I lay there, motionless and scanning the dark ceiling for casts of light breaking through the curtain's edge, I wondered: "How might I use this time for the Lord?"

My mind recalled a few Scripture passages about the wee hours. Psalm 63:6, "When I remember You upon my bed, and meditate on You in the watches of the night" and Psalm 119:148, "My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promise." Thoughts of the elusive Proverbs 31 woman crept in as well: "She rises while it is yet night...her lamp does not go out..." (vv. 15, 18), etc. In that moment, I knew what I needed to do.

I began by reviewing James 1, a chapter I have held near to my heart over the last 10 years. I first memorized it in an attempt to pursue the whole book of James, but many things (temptation, doubt, busyness) have crept in over the years to keep me from completing that end. Thankfully, I have recently locked in chapter one afresh and have begun to commit the rest of the book to memory (with the help of a dear friend in accountability!). So this is where I started...

After rolling through those precious 27 verses and marveling at the wonders contained, I then engaged in prayer - mostly prayers of confession, some of thanksgiving and praise. But suffice it to say, I sought to utilize my time wisely, reflecting on Christ rather than picking up my smartphone and surfing the web.

Does this make me a night watch hero? No. But it did prompt me to "set [my mind] on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2). This morning, after rising and shining [meh], getting ready for the day, and arriving at the local coffee shop...I spent time in God's Word and with God's people's words (namely David Platt and D.A. Carson, via some reading for small groups). I was also able to seek the Lord through focused prayer and journaling about my desire to keep Him first and foremost throughout my day. I believe that using my night watch time wisely helped keep me "in check" this morning and will hopefully continue to lead to a more Christlike outlook on the day.

So, what about you? Have you been awakened in the middle of the night recently? How did you use that time? More importantly, are you choosing to set your mind on Christ today? Join me in seeking to glorify Him with our priorities, our thoughts, our speech, our actions, and our goals. And let these beloved lyrics from the hymn "Be Thou My Vision" be characteristic of our aim:

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou, my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping - Thy presence, my light.

4 comments:

  1. Leah, thanks so much for sharing this. I wake up in the middle of the night all the time, and I am learning how to start praying when that happens rather than worrying. Thanks for the inspiration to do better! :) Love this!

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  2. No problem, Jordan! I have found that praying and reviewing Scripture helps in a multitude of ways - to dissuade bad dreams, worries, fearful feelings at night, etc. Thanks for your comment!

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  3. I have the great talent of waking up up to dozens of times each and every night. It's frustrating and so many days I feel so completely drained. I find myself more often than that being frustrated because I can't go back to sleep or am restless. I could definitely use those times to just seek out God. Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. Oh, Ami! That can be SO frustrating! Yes, restlessness is difficult, but it can be such a sweet time in the night for prayer and the Word. In fact, I have found that recalling memory verses is great for putting me back to sleep as well. Not that the Word is boring...lol...but fixing my mind on a task tends to make the sleepy kick back in!

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