(prayer from The Praying Tree by Michael Leunig)
I didn’t mean to wake up before dawn. But then again, I don’t ever really mean to wake up too early or be sleepless until the sun rises. I long for sleep – at times crave it the way some people crave sugar – but it’s never come easy for me. I suppose there are benefits to be found in sleeplessness. Late night messages from friends are seen, tomorrow’s work might get done today, and I’ve listened to the Psalms over and over and over again. Every emotion, every struggle, every joy are found in those 150 chapters.
When I tell people Christ is life in my veins, it’s not a light-hearted Christianese statement.
It’s reality. Today, He is sustaining me.
As a little girl, I had night terrors – ones that would rage so deeply that my mom would have to follow me as I ran down the hallway to the front door. Mom knew that to grab me would scare me even more. So there, in the dark, she would simply speak. Calmly and softly, she would tell me it was going to be OK. She would tell me I was safe. And she would follow me back to my room as I crawled into bed. I never remembered the terrors. I always remembered her voice.
I will stay with you tonight
Hold you close ’til the morning light
I remember the nights so very many years ago. I would hear the soft sniffle at the doorway in the dark, then the whispered, “Mommy – I can’t sleep.” My son would crawl into the bed beside me, and I would scratch his back and pray quietly over him – prayers of thanks for the day, prayers for rest and peace and for the best morning when our eyes opened again. He would be asleep long before the “amen.”And I will wait for you tonight
You’re here forever and you’re by my side
It’s a ritual every time babysitting includes bedtime or our grandson comes to our house for a slumber party. The Little Man is tucked in, bundled up in blankets with an audience of stuffed animals. There is a story – or two. And then, as the room is illuminated only by blue stars on the ceiling and the faint glow of the moon outside, we whisper. There are prayers and there are promises of adventure when the new day comes.Sometimes there’s things a man cannot know
Gears won’t turn and the leaves won’t grow
Nights are difficult for my friend – the darkness whispers fear and reminders of past pain. When she closes her eyes, she still sees the face, the hands, the harm. Life has too many questions, and sometimes it would be so much better just to quiet it all and simply go away. And so we text. The words aren’t always easy, but the words are there. In the dark, with the glow of the screen, she struggles to hear the voice. It’s not always strong, but it’s there.
At the end of the day, we all long for that voice. Whether the night brings terror or peace, we hunger for the voice in the dark that tells us it’s going to be OK, we’re safe, tomorrow is going to be better and hope awaits us. I hear that voice in the Psalms in the earliest hours of the day. I hear that voice in my husband’s prayers. I hear that voice in my grandson’s whispers.
And I hear that voice in me. In the darkness. As I hear myself softly say, “I thank You for the warmth of the sun. I thank You for the kind words mailed to me in a letter. I thank You for the difficult conversation with a client, and the good news from my boss, and for walking through the deepest valley with a friend. I thank You that there are still unanswered questions and thank You for keeping me dependent…” – it’s there that I hear God’s voice. Telling me today is redeemed and tomorrow awaits with new mercies, new breath, new life. And tomorrow, if sleep comes or if it doesn’t, Christ will again be life in my veins.But there is a truth and it’s on our side
Dawn is coming open your eyes
Look into the sun as a new days rise
Stay Alive is by Jose Gonzales. It found me one night. And it was the voice.
So, where do you hear your voices in the dark – the words that offer comfort and encouragement to your soul?