I find some of my best conversations with God happen late at night when the lights are off and there is no media blaring in the background. If it was an easy day the conversation is usually short before I fall asleep. I know I should talk longer, but for some reason short conversations are the result of a contented life. If during the day I heard news of trouble in a friend’s life, the conversation might be slightly longer but I will eventually doze off not to wake until the morning.
But if my life is spinning out of control and I can’t stop my mind from thinking and my heart from worrying, the story is completely different. I’m not sure why, but in those times I almost never start talking to God. I’ll lay on my side trying to fluff the pillow perfectly or find the right fold of the blankets to send me to sleep, but I rarely succeed. I’ll roll onto my stomach then finally my back hoping it will help, but no position is ever of any use. Many times I’ll put in a CD to let the music lull me to sleep, but that usually never works. Eventually, laying in the darkness and frustrated with time’s slow movement, I will be reminded of when Samuel figured out the Lord wanted to speak with him and finally said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
I’m not certain why I don’t start my restless nights with that phrase but I often don’t. I wish I was better at going to the Lord when I am tempted, frustrated, or feeling the strain of life’s pressure, but for some reason those are the times I find it the most difficult to gather up the strength and fortitude and speak with him. Eventually, I’ll realize God has been keeping me awake all night waiting for me to start my conversation with him. It will usually go something like this:
Life stinks right now and I don’t know how else to say it, so I’m just going to say it: I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. But I also know there’s no way I’m getting out of this situation unless you jump in.
Sorry I didn’t start talking earlier but sometimes I just can’t handle life and I worry too much. Ok, you want to hear whats going on with me? Here goes. First, let me just say there are plenty of times I do do something wrong, but I don’t think this is one of them, but I’ll let you decide, ok? So, what I’m struggling with as I lay here in bed is…
(It’s at this point that I’ll explain the situation including the people who seemingly are taking advantage of me and the circumstances that have piled up beyond my understanding. After I’m done with the details, I’ll say something like the following…)
I know you are just, and I know you don’t always enact justice in this life…but this one time…why not? I mean why don’t you jump in and fix this mess completely? If I’m really one of your children, don’t you want to protect me from these mean, nasty, horrible, no-good people and this horrible, no-good, very bad situation?
Alright, alright! I know you aren’t here to give me my best life now. I know life is full of pain and you use all of it to bring about something better. I know you say “all things work together for good for those who love you” but why can’t they “work together for good” in this lifetime? Why must my best life always be the one to come?
(With increasing intensity) Actually, now that I think of it, why can’t you make those people who are hurting me, (you know the ones), experience their worst life now? Why can’t you make their life so miserable that not only do they hurt, but their children and their children’s children hurt from it! Why don’t you give them so much pain that there is plenty left over for the next few generations of them!
(I know what you are saying, “Wow, that’s pretty messed up!” But ask yourself…haven’t you ever said something like that to God? No? Oh…I guess I’m the only messed up one here…Well now that you know I’m messed, AND since you’ve this far, you might as well finish reading.)
(after a long pause when I’ve calmed down…) Ok, ok, I think I understand. The first commandment you gave Moses was that he shouldn’t have any other gods but you. In a real way, my struggles tonight are about that very commandment. I want justice more than I want you. I want retribution more than I want you. I want comfort more than I want you. I never saw before that justice, retribution, and comfort have become my gods. You want me to trust you, don’t you? I understand, and yet, those gods are not easy to give up.
I see that you wan’t me to say with the Psalmist in Psalm 17:15, “when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.” You, alone. Nothing else.
At some point after I’ve reached this conclusion I find I am able to fall asleep.