It was 3:29 a.m. and I was wide-awake. The interruption from my deep and wonderful sleep began at about 2:58 a.m.
Normally when this happens, I am bombarded by a long list of to-dos, a concern about a relationship, a conflict to resolve, or a deadline to meet. And usually, I’ll lay awake and pray quietly, “casting my cares on Jesus” (1 Peter 5:7), praying through the Lord’s Prayer, or through Psalm 23.
Often, I’ll roll over and go right back to sleep. But more often than I want to admit, I realize that my anxiety is winning over my prayer-in-bed approach. So I get up and write in my journal, seek God’s direction in His Word, and choose to trust Him.
Anyone else find yourself wound a little too tight, battling anxiety, exhausted in your attempts to “juggle all the balls” and “keep all the plates spinning” in your life?
Like I said, normally when I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m battling anxiety or that dreaded overwhelmed feeling.
But this particular night was very different!
At 2:58 a.m., I was unexplainably awakened.
And before I could even start to think about anything, my mind was flooded with specific examples of how kind and gracious my Heaven Father has been to me.
I recalled how just days before, my one-year-old granddaughter ran to meet me at the door, yelling, “Papa, Papa!” after I was gone for only eight days.
I remembered sitting in a hotel lobby with the Living on the Edge board members as each of us shared some of our deepest challenges. When I left, I was in awe of being so loved, accepted, supported, and safe that I could be vulnerable.
I thought back to how God spoke powerfully to me through Tony Evans at last year’s Moody Bible Institute’s Pastors’ Conference. I remembered how He moved me to completely change my message the next day to encourage and equip the pastors with amazing results.
I also remembered an ongoing unresolved conflict that had been eating away at my peace of mind. At the big confrontation just days earlier, I experienced God at work – difficult words were given and received, clarity replaced confusion, and humility reigned over pride.
Finally, I remembered reading a blog post that someone sent to me about the power and benefit of play, and another blog about the importance of sleep, and I was profoundly encouraged by the gift of Sabbath and rest. So, I took two full days off after an eight-day trip. During that time, I didn’t check email, didn’t solve any problems, and like the “trickle charge” of a car battery, I felt my emotions and heart restored.
So here’s my point: Sometimes we’re so busy trying to “make life work” that we miss the life we’ve been given!
The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. (Psalm 145:8, NASB)
This phrase about God’s kindness is repeated all throughout the Old Testament. And it also describes our Lord Jesus’ life. It’s also the Apostle Paul’s motivation for ministry (2 Corinthians 5), and the Apostle John’s theme in his gospel and three epistles. Finally, it’s what has brought each one of us to new life.
It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Undoubtedly, the world is a mess and the needs are great. For many of us, especially those who are Type A personalities, on our bad days we tend to be overly driven to meet these needs. On our good days, we’re passionately filled with God’s Spirit. Yet, there never seems to be enough time to make a difference!
That’s why it’s important that we don’t miss God’s kindness!
So, right now, I’d encourage you to stop! Turn off the news, the cell phone, and the noise. Enjoy the blessings God has given you. Live in the moment. Soak in nature. Count your blessings. Write them down. Give thanks, out loud.
Let God love you, heal you, and encourage you. Give seriousness and intensity a break. Enjoy and affirm those closest to you.
Take time to rest and reflect on how God has been so good and kind to you.
To learn more about God’s character, check out Chip’s book, The Real God: How He Longs for You to See Him.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip