So I was up a little before 4 am today, reading Samuel Rutherford quotes.
(Oh relax, I went on to Hulu soon after and got hooked on a plotline where the president beats up a good-looking assassin. Obviously a story imagined during a different presidency…)
He wrote, “The secret formula of the saints: When I am in the cellars of affliction, I look for the Lord’s choicest wines.”
You realize what that means, right? You and I are basically drinking buddies. Ha!
Yep, that’s why it is better to be asleep at 4 am. That is as deep as it gets, and sadly, in the moment, it strikes you as so deep that you remember it after the sun comes up and feel compelled to write it down. So. That’s how my day is going so far…
Actually, we should take my wee-smas wakefulness as a fundamentally good thing, because at my core, I am a stress sleeper. When I hear folks talk about a problem so worrisome that it is keeping them up at night, that is my cue to smile and nod because that is seriously not a thing in my world and I have no idea what they are talking about. My whole system powers down under stress. If I am uneasy about flying, I will nod off before they have a chance to teach me how to use the seat buckle or to use a flotation device in the middle of Utah.
It may be silly… ehhhhh, it probably is, but I have always found the after church coffee hour chat time to be stressful. I can play an entire service and not break a sweat and yet 15 minutes trying to make friendly conversation and keep both feet away from mouth at the same time is enough to knock me into a coma when I get to the car. It’s a good thing we live 45 minutes from church; it takes me that long to get through my post-church REM cycle. Hours performing jazz at a winery, I’ll be buzzing around long afterwards. Pretend for 10 minutes to be a normal person who can chat about traffic and the start of the school year and I am like the Energizer Bunny’s evil twin, the one who hits the beat on 1 and 3 and always looks mildly stoned.
Here’s the problem: I would love to condescend somehow to all the poor wakeful worriers (yep. I am that much of a jerk. Kindly remember that God used Jerome too, a man who crankily batted away the gentle ministrations of friends at his own deathbed and He is not finished with me yet) and urge them to just sleep, for is not God at the tiller (and don’t you love any instruction that begins with “just”? But there is a fly in the self-righteous ointment.
We are not supposed to sleep through tribulation, either.
The Word of God is full of perfectly jointed paradoxes that we are to hold with both hands, simultaneously. It is not wait on the Lord one day and gird up the loins of your mind for action the next. To wait is to gird, to gird is to wait. The picture is perhaps a little graphic in our day, but a graphic it would behoove us to keep at the forefront of our minds here in this midweek — the idea is to grab hold of the extra fabric in your robe, to hitch whatever is billowing about your legs that would slow you down, and basically to tuck it into your underwear, and RUN. Waiting on the Lord is an intensively active posture. Jesus waited on God in the Garden of Gethsemane — bloody sweating is a marker of waiting.
When the billows of care are fluttering, grab hold of your Lord in prayer. Tuck the faithless flapping fabrics into your underwear and for goodness sake, stay awake and pray… and then sleep, still positioned for battle, for running, for obeying. Wait, I say, on the Lord.