Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What Woke Me Up At 4:14 A.M.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. 
You believe in God; believe also in me." - Jesus (John 14:1)

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4:14 a.m.

Those numbers stared back at me a few nights ago after waking up from a fitful sleep. I tried to go back to sleep, but by then it was too late. My mind was racing with thoughts and feelings and frustrations from the day before. I thought sleep would chase them away, but I've learned that issues that go unsettled during the day will often follow you into the middle of the night.

Even at 4:14 a.m.

I tossed and turned, figuring eventually my exhaustion would take over and mercifully send me back to sleep. No dice. As five minutes turned to 10, and then 10 into half an hour, I was forced to acknowledge that something was wrong.

There were emotions I was letting get the best of me and worries that were spinning rotisserie-style in my mind. I knew why. I was clinging tightly to something that was beyond my control (always a bad idea, by the way). Something that was near and dear to my heart.

And so I wake up at 4:14 a.m. and soon thereafter, in a mix of frustration and exhaustion, anger sets in. I’m frustrated by a bunch of small things that didn’t go the way I thought it would and upset about not being in control the way I hoped I would be.

Eventually, I finish my internal venting and, as if He were waiting the whole time, God whispers a question that always cuts through all of the noise: Do you trust Me?

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

It’s such a simple question, one that I’ve had to wrestle with again and again during my life.

Yes. Yes, I trust You, Lord... But I say it as I clutch onto this thing I’ve been holding onto so tightly, afraid that if I let it go and leave it at His feet, I’ll lose it.

There it is again. Fear. Fear always seems to be the thing that holds me back. Fear always tricks me into thinking I can do it all on my own and take on more than I can handle.

The closer something is to your heart, the harder it is to let go. The harder it is to trust God with it. In my head, I know that everything in my life was better off in God’s hands than it was in mine. But fear can be so convincing as it screams that it's not.

I was either going to lay this down into God’s hands and trust Him with it or I was going to let fear win and tighten my grip. God always proved His faithfulness again and again when I chose to trust Him and I remember how I manage to mess things up big time when I didn’t.

In John 12:25, Jesus said, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” The challenge I get from this verse is to live life with an open hand, letting God have His way in me. And that means opening up everything to Him.

LOOSENING MY GRIP

It’s easy to say God, I trust You. It’s harder to say God, I trust You with this thing that is so close to my heart. It’s much more difficult to then actually surrender it to Him.

I always wonder what will happen if I do surrender it, though. That’s just how I am; I want to know the end result of every decision I make. But that’s not how life works. That’s not how faith works. I may not know how it all ends, but if I trust God through it anyway, I know I’ll be alright.

So I start to loosen my grip, finger by finger, until my hands are open and I can place my hopes, my fears, my concerns, my everything into His hands.

Once I do that, the burden is lifted, peace returns, and -- finally -- I slip back to sleep.

When I trust God with the things that are close to my heart, they won’t wake me up at 4:14 a.m.

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