Everyone who knows me – knows I’m not a “morning” person. Now you give me a couple of 5-hour Energy – yes typically I need a dose of 10-hours – and then I’m ready to hit the pavement.
I’ve always been a night owl by nature. I get the most work done in the evenings when everyone else is asleep. You see, if you reply to emails after midnight you typically can clear out your entire inbox since THEIR replies won’t come until everyone wakes up the next morning. (Unless you live in the Kansas City area because apparently those folks are up 24/7).
I was officially diagnosed with chronic insomnia after giving birth to my twin boys. If you don’t know that story just start reading posts from January 2009 to their birth in June. You’ll see I was a bigger baby than the two I was carrying. I often think about deleting all those posts where I wore everyone out with all my baby-drama…..but it represents the reality of where I was at the time. I remember telling my mom that, “I don’t do well with pain and discomfort”. She’d always respond sarcastically, “You think!?!”
My focus was on my weakness those 9 months. It really all boiled down to the fact that I felt overwhelmed, outnumbered, scared, and simply exhausted.
I’m taking our Monday’s Bible Study group through the story of Gideon. I try to stay a week ahead so that I can pray and meditate on the topics covered. Then I go back through the homework and decide which things I’ll focus on for Monday’s session.
I read this a few days ago and it continues to be something that I keep going back to.
Gideon – by Prescilla Shirer…
When Gideon was told he was going to defeat the Midianites – a 32,000 member army with only 300 men – I’m sure he was filled with emotions. Maybe he was scared, outnumbered, intimidated, or even exhausted.
Maybe we have felt that way ourselves….. Perhaps it’s a new company that just hired you, the job you just lost, the family that needs you, or the ministry that’s stretching you. Your circumstances can make you feel ill-equipped to handle all the exhausting demands. That pervasive sense of inadequacy – the one that hits you in waves when everything seems completely beyond your capacity – can end up totally paralyzing you. No doubt Gideon felt that same pressure.
Our weaknesses are the conduits through which we experience God’s strength. Weakness is a key that is designed to open something. God designed your key specifically to fit the lock He has in mind for you. He uses your weaknesses, the areas and places where you feel the least strong, to open a divine door. Without this key, we would rarely experience God’s strength. He didn’t pass you over on the manufacturing line when handing out specific gifts or traits. On the contrary, He specifically and uniquely fitted your keys to open divine doors.
When we feel outnumbered or beyond our abilities – are we looking at the right thing? Do our eyes linger on our scarce resources and looming problems – or instead do we concentrate on the fact that Jesus is with us? A change in focus can change everything.
Sometimes our weakness is made abundantly clear to everyone within a stone’s throw – like those journal entries I made back in 2009. At other times our weakness may be a little more subtle.
As we approach the holidays I find myself a little bit more emotional than normal. Does anyone else cry at the Kohl’s commercial where the neighbors decorate the home of a single elderly woman? When she opens the door she has a a grin that is brighter than those beautiful decorations she sees for the first time. That sweet little smile reminds me of my granny and my mind goes back to the last few Christmases we celebrated with her.
And – The Christmas Shoes song – that should not be allowed on the radio this early. The song is about a young boy buying shoes on Christmas Eve for his dying mother so she will be beautiful when she meets Jesus.
This year, my niece and nephew will experience their first Christmas without their mother. Two years ago we spent Thanksgiving with Jose’s sister. She always makes a feast. There were three different birds and all the fixings. She slaveed away cooking all day long for her family feast. This week, a seat at that table will be empty.
I think about Ydalia, a worker on the St. Louis Campus who I got to visit with this past May. She passed away a few months ago from elevated sugar levels. I’ve known her for 15 years. She was in our women’s group and very active in the church. This year a seat is empty at their table.
I’m sure all of us know of tables that will have empty chairs this holiday season.
Since my diagnosis of Chronic Insomnia, I have medication I take nightly to help me sleep. If I don’t take it, I can go about 72 hours without sleeping. My doctor changed my dose of that medication to an extended-release pill, which is supposed to help me sleep and stay sleep. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter what time I take the pill – I haven’t been able to fall sleep before 3am for the last several weeks.
At first I was really frustrated. The focus was back on me again. But I decided that if I couldn’t sleep I would spend that time doing my devotions, listening to worship music, and praying. I was going to use my weakness to His Glory. You know what happens when you change your focus – everything indeed changes.
Now I spend my evenings specifically praying for families with empty seats at their tables. I pray for the children who wake up today without their mothers and the mothers who wake up without their children.
I pray for God to cure cancer. I pray for God to provide miracles for families in desperate need this season. I pray that God wipes away each and every tear along with our worries and our fears. I pray that more people around the world will celebrate the birth of Jesus this year than ever before. I pray for our country – for the leadership – both in America and Haiti.
I pray for God to cure the hearts that hold bitterness. I pray for God to bring comfort to those who feel so alone. I pray for God to give strength to the families who are stretched so thin this year. I pray for Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. I pray for God’s deliverance for all of the ministries in the world who are struggling this year just to keep their lights on.
I pray that all the missionaries will not grow weary doing good. I pray they won’t give up even when it seems they are not gaining ground. I pray that God’s presence will be felt in Karenage and that these precious mommies we are ministering to will bring Jesus to their children – oh let those little children come unto Thee.
I pray our ladies will continue to speak with BOLDNESS in a country full of darkness. I pray that God will give peace in families where brothers and sisters no longer speak. I pray God will bring healing to those who cannot look past their hurts. I pray for God to fill each and every hole in hearts of those who are suffering.
These long nights that I used to complain about – I now look forward to. You see a shift in focus really can change everything. This may be shocking to you guys – so take a seat before you faint – but sometimes it’s just not about ME! (crazy right?)
My journal is filled with prayers for others…..prayers that wouldn’t have been prayed if I was fast asleep.
As Thanksgiving approaches – I pray all of us are able to use our weaknesses to bless others. Many of us have real problems, real burdens, real pain, realities that perhaps no one else can understand. But I can personally testify to what a change in focus can do for your heart, soul, and mind.
May you embrace the key God created just for you – and may those divine doors fling open with a crashing bang!