May
15

Why Can’t I Sleep?

My energy was low the other day due to not sleeping well. Why do our problems and concerns seem to magnify at night?

I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and began thinking about an issue involving our 11-year-old son Noah. It was nothing major, just some ongoing growing pains with our tweener. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to worry, feeding the issue and before long, it grew to Noah dropping out of school and making license tags behind bars with “mom” tattoo on his arm under a skull with crossbones.

I finally fell asleep and when I awoke in the morning, it all seemed frivolous but it had left me robbed of much needed sleep and an unproductive day.

Pete Wilson’s new book Empty Promises, shares how the ancient Hebrew mindset saw the beginning of the day starting at sunset. Even in the Creation Story in Genesis 1 illustrates this, “Evening came and then morning – that was the first day.”

He points out that our culture sees the beginning of the day at sunrise, the time that we begin doing. However, based on the Creation story, it appears God sees the beginning of the day when we’re resting and He’s on watch.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that we’re in the middle of a sleep-deprived epidemic. We pop pills to go to sleep and chug expensive drinks to stay awake the following day.

I’m not a good sleeper and after my sleepless nights, I’m a walking zombie, failing to emotionally connect with people or God.

“Uh mom, you haven’t blinked in 5 minutes.”

“Oh, sorry! I must have dozed off with my eyes opened.”

There are many theories to our struggle to sleep – artificial light, diet, lack of exercise/movement, too much screen time, hormones, etc. – and I’m guessing most of these theories are true. But I fall asleep okay; it’s the middle of the night and my worry-athons that steal my slumber.

I began to wonder if Pete has a point – am I invading God’s watch? If He is my refuge, my place of safety, why can’t I rest? Perhaps I’m preparing for the day a little too late by waiting until sunrise to put on my spiritual armor.

When I was a missionary in Russia, I went through a period where I had reoccurring nightmares. An older member of my team believed it to be spiritual in nature.

She advised me to pray on God’s armor (Ephesians 6:10), not just in the morning but also at night (the beginning of the Hebrew day). She shared, “Satan will have a hay day with your mind when you sleep unless you cover it with prayer.”

I was reminded of this after reading Empty Promises. Last night, before I went to sleep, I prayed on God’s armor. At 2:00 I woke up again, but instead of worrying, I passed my concerns back to God and thanked Him for keeping watch over us.

You know what, I slept the rest of the night. Thank God He’s got my back.

Do you struggle with sleep?

How do you handle anxious thoughts at night?

 

May
09

Never Judge a Person by Their Cover

This past week I worked at a conference hosting a booth with many of our books. People from all walks of life visited our table and it was interesting to see the different responses, especially to two of our books that are political in nature. One in particular, The Presidents and Their Faith, stimulated much talk on the faith of our current president, some harsh and some loving.

One gentleman approached the table and snidely said, “Well, well, the faith of the presidents. I want to know what you have to say about our present one.”

He picked up the book and began scanning the last chapter. His conservative dress, cropped hair and the sarcastic tone in his voice quickly told me what he believed.

I was a bit nervous – was this opinionated, loud-talking man going to make a scene? It was near the end of the conference and I was a bit “people-out”. I didn’t have it in me to politely listen and keep eye contact without rolling them.

He closed the book and the judgmental scowl on his face disappeared, “You know, I have a problem with anger. God’s really working on me with it.”

Within seconds he went from bitterness to humility. His critical words transformed into wisdom and love.

He began sharing how he’s doing a study on anger and how he believes many of the teenage runaways and drug problems are due to parents like him who respond to their kids’ quirks in anger or frustrated tones.

As he spoke I went from resisting him to receiving the message God gave him.

God spoke to me. I too had a judgmental spirit. I had jumped to label my new friend as small-minded with nothing to offer. In reality, he is a humble man, with an anger problem, who is proactively working with God on it and sharing his testimony to help others.

Later that night, my sister and I talked about this gentleman. His message had impacted us both. If I had of met him elsewhere, and based upon my premature judgments, I’d probably have mentioned something about being scheduled for an organ transplant and politely excuse myself the moment his banter began.

But…I would have missed God’s message – one I needed to hear.

Working behind a table kept me there that day but it made me wonder how many other stories and lessons I may have missed because I judged the person by first impressions. Being in the publishing business you would think that I’d know better than to judge a book by it’s cover.

Have you ever judged someone by first impressions only to discover a treasure inside them later?

Has God shown you any similar lessons that you’d like to share?