(Image via Pexels)
I’m wide awake in the middle of the night…again. My son is in the good, deep sleep in the next bed. We are on a trip with his former classmates. This is his last scheduled time with his friends.
I’ve shaped passing thoughts into a conviction in the stillness of 4am. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. There could be a logical answer. We’ve just moved to another time zone, or my thyroid isn’t balanced. But I think it’s something else. I’ve tried to change this new routine that has developed. Essential Oils are diffused, exercise increased, sleepy tea consumed. I’ve cut out caffeine. But it still happens most nights. I wake up burdened to pray. Other nights I awaken mid-worship song. Others I awaken stressed, confused, saddened. I haven’t figured out my new normal. Work/life balance is a process, and my Mama’s heart has been focusing on settling everyone else first. In these weeks of rushed devotions and short pleading prayers. “God protect them.” My heart has become discontented. The peace that has carried me through our transition the last several months is lessening.
Our transition began in December. A once overly full schedule suddenly had hours of free time. It was a needed reprieve and my husband and I used the extra time for rest, exercise, and lengthy times with God. It was a calm and peace-filled time even though significant unknowns hung over our heads. As we have entered into a new season of our life journey, I have discovered God’s pursuit of my time in a new way. In the stillness of the nights when everyone else sleeps God has been creating a time and space where the only thing I need to focus on is him.
My middle of the night prayer time is not about ruling a kingdom. Nor are the dreams that wake me prophetic like Pharoah’s dreams were that Joseph interpreted in Genesis 41. Still, these times feel intentional and personal. There are some intentional conversations God is calling me to have with him and the middle of the night seems to be the best time for those to happen. I’m not the first person to have their heart and mind drawn to God in a dream. The Old Testament is full of stories of God informing people of something in a dream. 1 Samuel 28:5-6 tells us that God speaking to Saul in dreams was expected as often as when God spoke through a prophet. “When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.”
As I pray for friends, my family, our future, I’m finding these times much more focused than at other times in the day. For example, I will dream of my son entering his classroom at school and wake up praying for him to connect with his new classmates. This feels like a special gift of extended time God is giving me right now. In the midst of errands which feel never ending, routines that are slow and unsteady and days that fly by God is pursuing me in a unique way, helping me remember where my focus needs to stay. Giving me a chance to battle the worry and instead release it with prayer.
Dreams are a key way that God communicates with people in the Bible. The middle of the night is a time when some of God’s best words are communicated. In the Bible dreams:
Reveal Truth Genesis 20; Abimelech King of Gerar took Sarah, Abraham’s wife as his own. God warns him in a dream to stay away from Sarah even though Abraham has lied and told the king Sarah is his sister.
Reveal Our Futures Genesis 37; Joseph sees his brothers bowing down to him
Direct Our Path Daniel 4:27; 36-37; Daniel encourages the King to turn away from sin. He interprets a dream that warns him of terrible things to come, and as it happens, the King is reminded of Daniel’s suggestion.
Reveal The Future Daniel 7; most theologians agree that when Daniel writes of the 4 beasts, it refers to something that has not yet happened.
This is not an exhaustive list, but I hope it gives you an idea of the importance of the dreams that were had.
I’m living in a grace-filled season. I’m viewing these middle of the night conversations as an opportunity. A time to release my burdens when the days are full. It’s also a reminder to me. I need to reorder my time to include focused, uninterrupted time with God in this new season. My new normal needs to be just as Christ-centered as the previous one. I’m thankful for a God who can speak to us regardless of whether we are awake and focused on him or sleeping. I’m even more thankful for a God who loves me enough to pursue time with me even when my days are focused on other things.
**Just an update for you: since writing this post I’ve joined a Bible study in our new community and carved out time each day for prayer and study. I’m sleeping soundly through the night again. Our transition is far from over, but it seems much more manageable now.