I was in and out, weird dreams flooding my brain. I was just short of something, can’t recall what; just adrift, barely unconscious. A fitness program? My exercise wasn’t quite enough? Was that it? No. Not quite. What? Something was off. I looked at the clock. 1:50AM. That was 2 hours, 17 minutes ago.
I’d guess I had fallen asleep at around 10:25, something like that. Now I was lying awake with a serious neck ache. I went to the bathroom. I adjusted my pillow 100 times, trying not to rouse my wife. I came downstairs and spent several minutes looking at the ESPN website recap of the day in the NFL. I looked at the new college football rankings, happy to see Michigan at #2. I tried sleep again. Back to bed, then up.
Finally, I came down at 3:3o. I did a few of the stretching exercises a physical therapist showed me years ago when a painful stiff neck had become a chronic problem. It’s weird. For my stiff neck, he had me stretching my groin and hamstrings and tightening my core muscles and working on groin muscle strength. It worked (or the neck pain just went away on its own).
Either way, neck pain is not allowing me to sleep tonight.
My friend Phil, a rock of a Christian, a real saint, once chided when I bemoaned a bout of insomnia. I was whining on Facebook at 3AM (like I am doing in this blog now), and Phil told me to “redeem the time, man!” He meant pray! Maybe he had in mind Psalm 119:148. “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Phil was right. Insomnia is an opportunity to pray.
Yesterday (Sunday) morning, in my sermon on Jonah, I remembered that in the storm (a literal storm at sea, or the “storms” of life), we run into opportunity. Dark, scary times, painful times are opportunities to meet God in prayer. So too is this night of my insomnia. I sit here awake, knowing how tired I will be throughout today. But, I don’t focus on that. I set my brain to God. The Holy Spirit is here. It is good.
I will, in a moment, be back on the floor, stretching, tightening core muscles. I will, in the next moment, be back in my chair reading the Madeleine L’Engle book I am reviewing. She’s writing about the intersection of art and faith. It is beautiful writing. But of course it is! It is Madeleine L’Engle. Maybe, I will read Psalm 119 – all of it.
Before I get all that done, it will be 5:30, 6:00AM. My 7-year-old daughter will come down, eager to start the day because she loves riding the school bus. She wakes up afraid that she’s missed it. We haven’t needed an alarm clock in years. I am not always happy when she wakes so early. But, I love it when she comes to me as I sit in my chair. She comes for a good morning hug. Many days, it is the best moment of the day.