sleepless in the shadows

I lay awake – again. The flying, worrying thoughts refuse to settle down in my brain. They know that they can whip me into a tearful angry mess of fear and dismay. (It doesn't take much. They have already laid the groundwork on previous nightly visitations.)

Idiot. Letting them get to me – those frightening questions. Will the not-yet-begun-business generate enough money to pay our bills? Will we be forced to live separately? What will that do to our marriage? Our son? Will I have to work 2 jobs – or 3 - just to keep our family afloat? How will we manage those chronic health issues without insurance? How will we adjust to living in a city built on sand after loving life in this land of lakes? Do we have what it takes to deal well not only with culture stress, but with the dynamics of living and working with extended family? Will we feel trapped in old patterns? In cultural conflicts? In our own stinking internal garbage?

Pretender. After crying enough in frustration and fear, I try playing possum. Perhaps pretending to be asleep will lull my heart and fool my brain. I try pointlessly to master my fears and flying thoughts with my own brain power or, with my determined will, to cram them back into that Pandora’s Box tucked into a dark corner of my heart.

Fool. Underneath those questions are deeper ones. Questions passed on from my garden-tending, apple-eating ancestors through each successive generation. Sharpened to a fine point by my own independence-loving self. Does God really care? Can He really do anything about this anyway? My love of seeing biases my perspective of my whole world when I can’t see.

Mercy. Why is it so hard to remember to pray? It only took a second to turn my mind and heart to God. He swooped in to catch me like the giant eagle in that torrential scene in the Lord of the Rings when Gandalf, trapped by evil and pelted by storm, leans back into nothingness, confident that his silent cries have been heard.

God’s voice was clear.
“Psalm 126”, He said.

I leaned out of bed to find my Bible. Turning to Psalm 126 I was caught off guard with these words:

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like men restored to health.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”

Here was an invitation to offer to God our grieving tears and the seeds He’s sown in us til now, praying in faith for Him to restore our fortunes and our health. To make impossible streams in the desert possible. To produce a harvest from sand.

Asking God for those things, I laughed with joy. And fell asleep.

i think i need an intervention
i’m chasing the sensation
i think i need an intervention
some kind of liberation
grab hold me
undo me
expose me
inside out
of the dark shadows
blinding light
set me free
if you want to get free come on and get free
from Paul LeFeber’s new solo album, Shouldn't Be Said

Worries have a way of shadowing us. Those shadows can easily overwhelm, blinding us to the truth about God and darkening our perspective on our circumstances. But it doesn’t take God long to rescue us – if we’ll just turn our face to the light.Today, find a quiet place where you can stand in God’s presence. (Have a Bible and a pen & paper nearby.)

Look down at your shadow of worry. What do you see? With your head bowed down, ask God to reveal the deeper heart questions beneath worry’s shadow. What lies are you believing about God’s character and care? Bring those lies into the light by confessing them out loud to God.

Now look up - lift your face as if looking into face of God. Ask God for mercy: to reveal the truth to you about who He is and what He wants to do for you. Stand still. Listen. If any Scripture passage comes to mind, read it. Respond to what you see there.

Today, don’t be surprised if God catches you off guard as He continues to illuminate the shadows and reveal glimpses of His promises.

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