Sleep seems a bit difficult at the moment. I'm not sure why, sometimes it's because I wake in the night and my head seems so full of things that I can't get back to sleep again, and sometimes it's because a bit of me hurts - but there are other times when I just don't seem to get to sleep and I don't know why.
The other night was one of those nights when I did know why I couldn't sleep. Well, to start with, I could sleep, but in the early hours I awoke abruptly.
2am. Shrieks from Elizabeth's room. Surely she was being stung by a million wasps, or the roof was falling in, or some dire nightmare was frightening her witless.
'What is it, love? What's wrong?' (Me, breathless, having vaulted out of bed and sprinted along the landing at warp speed.)
'I woke up.'
'I didn't know why I'd woken up so I shouted you.'
Hmm. What do you say to that? The only weapon I have is to write it all down so I don't forget and bring it out at some wedding speech sometime along with the chicken pox photos. Heh heh heh.
2am and of course the bloodcurdling yells from Lizzie's room had roused Katy, who wondered if the house was on fire. Seriously. Many reassurances later in one room and then the other, and then back to the first, I finally crawled back under the duvet (in my own bed) and closed my eyes. Yeah, right.
2am. 2.30am. By 3am my head was a whirl of all the stuff that I'm trying not to worry about at the moment. All distorted, pulled out of shape, exaggerated, coloured in scary colours and with creepy shadows. It all seemed too much.
Left side, right side, on my back, unclench teeth, make effort to relax shoulders. Release the frown. Unclench everything.
Eventually I sat up and started to blurt it all out in my journal. At 3am. Usually putting the light on is the last thing I do as I'm trying to lull myself back to sleep but there was nothing for it. I unburdened myself to my Friend, who happens to be Lord God and Creator of the Universe. You.
You sat with me for half an hour as I scribbled away and had a moan and dumped it all in front of you. Then you settled me down, pulled the duvet up to my chin and stroked my hair until I was asleep. Which didn't take long.
Really, Lord (not that it'll be too much of a surprise to you), you gave me peace. You took the stuff I was worried about. You took it away, and in its place you gave me peace. And sleep. It was quite amazing.
Something occurred to me; if it had been daytime, I most probably would have sent a text to a friend having a flap about my anxieties, or I might have asked them to say a prayer for me, or I might have found someone to chat to about it. Probably over coffee and cake. But, since it was 3am and lattes are hard to find, and also the rest of the local world was fast asleep, that's why I thought of you first. Or maybe you prompted me, but this time, I came to you.
Friends give a listening ear, coffee and cake give a degree of emotional comfort, text messages and emails give an opportunity to vent, but only you give all these things and peace as well. You always listen, you are endlessly patient, you understand me, you don't laugh at me or take offence, you don't hold what I say against me; soak it all up and say, 'Don't worry. I'm here and I love you.'
Why on earth don't I go to you first all the time?
I learned something. I learned that you are there and you answer prayers and you honour your promises. You like it when I seek you first, and you soothed me that night just like I soothed my little girls who had woken with anxieties of their own. My Daddy. Snuggled me down and made it all ok.
I woke the next morning and wondered if it had actually been that way. I read back the entry in my journal and realised that it was, yes, it was exactly that way. I had been having a panic; I was letting things get out of control and there was no wonder that I couldn't sleep, the way the same things were ricocheting around my mind. You did a lovely thing for me, and it wasn't over.
As I was lying in bed with a smile on my face, remembering the 3am rendezvous with God, I noticed that the light round the edge of the curtains was golden. I drew them back a little way and the sunrise was spectacular. Just beautiful.
I gazed at the majesty of the beginning of a new day and this came to mind:
'Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'
Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't get that word for word in my head with the chapter and verse and everything, but that's what you were telling me. I looked it up. What I heard right then was Peace.
I climbed back into bed and lay watching the sunrise. The sky was striped with red and orange and glittering goldleaf. A few minutes later the sun appeared from over the church tower and dazzled me where I lay. Gold was everywhere. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
As a start to a weekday it was pretty good.
Thankyou. For the middle of the night and for the early morning. You are my God, and you are amazing.
On the way home from the school run a couple of hours later the song in my headphones was YFriday's Reign In Me. One verse in particular put the smile back on my face.
'As the song of my life unfolds
And the truth of your love takes hold
You refine me like purest gold
Bright shining as the sun.'
At 3am when my head was hurting with worries, the truth of your love took hold of me indeed. And at 7am when your glory was falling around me on my pillows, I basked in the light of it. Lord I don't know what works you are doing in my life but I know that you are working in so many places, in so many ways. If you're refining me to make me into something that pleases you, bright shining as your Sun; then that's pretty bright. That's alright by me.
'You have opened my eyes to see
Something beautiful, something real
Now the sound of your glorious name
Is beating in my heart.
Reign in me, reign in me,
Majesty, reign in me
Yesterday, today, forever
You are in me, living in me
Every hour, each day, each moment
Take all of me, Lord, take all of me...'*
Lord the other night at 3am you showed me how faithful you are; you opened my eyes even as you gently closed them. You settled me with tenderness and love like the child that I am. You calmed me and comforted me and you gave me a peace that the world can't give. At 7am you smiled and reminded me who you were. There in the darkness and the shadows and there in the brilliance and the glory. I saw something beautiful; something real.
Praise your holy name. How amazing is it that the hand that put the stars in their places tucked me up in bed in the middle of the night when I was fretting about things that don't matter. You care for me.
You care. For me.
Thankyou, Lord. Reign in me.
*K Riley, YFriday Great and glorious 2009 Survivor/Absolute records