Sleepless (Not) In Seattle

The other night, I couldn’t fall asleep.

This wasn’t a new problem for me, by any means. Insomnia and I go way back. We’re old friends… or old enemies. Or old enemies that have known each other for so long that they kind of start to become friends, or at least have a mutual agreement of détente. Like the USA and USSR, albeit it on a much smaller (and less potentially explosive) scale.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep. And to make things worse, I knew exactly what I needed to do to fall asleep, but I didn’t want to do it.

Kind of like when you wake up in the middle of the night and you realize that you need to use the restroom. Nature is calling, and you need to answer. (Nature doesn’t leave very nice voicemails). Your body has kindly given you advance notice by waking you up, and now it’s your turn. And you know, you know you need to get up and walk the ten steps to the toilet, but your bed is just too comfortable, and the restroom is just too far. So you fight it and fight it until finally (hopefully!) you give in and hustle to the toilet.

Well, a couple nights ago, I found myself in a similar-ish situation. But instead of waking up in the middle of the night, I couldn’t fall asleep. Why not? Because my nose was stuffed up, and my nasal spray wasn’t in reach. Phooey.

For most of my life, this wouldn’t have been a problem because, for most of my life, I couldn’t breathe through my nose at all. But having been spoiled by almost three years of vacant nasal passages, I couldn’t overcome my stuffy sinuses. Rolling over, I blindly reached for a tissue and blew, but to no avail. My inner nose was swollen, and a simple Kleenex wouldn’t do the trick. What I needed was my prescription steroid nasal spray.

Normally, this would have been easy to solve because, normally, the nasal spray lives in a drawer in my nightstand right by my bed. But this was no “normal” night. This was the night after I moved across the country. And my nasal spray was tucked neatly, nicely, and very inconveniently in a box in a closet outside my room.

Bummer.

Now, I’m not usually a lazy person. Generally speaking, I will gladly get up and do things for myself. Sure, there was that time in 2004 when I put Matthew 10:42 above the water dispenser on our refrigerator, so I could ask my family members to bring me water while I sat on the couch… But that was forever ago! (Note: The post-it is still there. A bit wrinkled, but still there.) All that to say, on a typical day I’m not lazy.

But this was not a typical day. It wasn’t even the day at all. No, on this night I was so tired and so out of it, that  I had zero motivation to fix my sinus trouble. The closet was too far away, I was too sleepy, and it just didn’t seem worth it.

11:52 p.m.…. Still awake.

11:57 p.m. …. Not sleeping.

12:01 a.m.…. Lots of well-meaning sheep, but no sleep.

12:01 and 30 seconds… Groan. Thud. I finally shuffled to the door, rummaged through the box and found my much-needed nasal spray. Two squirts in each nostril later, I was fast asleep. Zzzzzzzzzzzz…..

(Pause for dramatic effect.)

So what was the point of that? Great question. I can almost hear you now: “Umm, Steffi, that was, uh, interesting. But why did you share it?”

Well, I am so glad you asked. You see, as I was lying there, languishing in my sleepless state, I felt that feeling. The one that makes me inhale through my teeth, inwardly groan, and then exhale, “Oops.” The feeling known as conviction. And here it is.

We treat our relationship with God like I treated my nasal spray.

We go along our merry way, leaving it tucked in the closet, out of sight and out of mind, until something goes wrong. And even then, we loiter, complain and go groaning to the closet, where we pull it out, use it to “fix” the problem, and then put it back away.

But that’s not right—for nasal spray or God.

You see, the Lord has the solution—IS the solution—to all our problems, just like the nasal spray was the solution to my insomnia. He does want us to seek Him out, ask His help, and watch Him answer. But He is NOT a genie waiting in a lamp to grant our wishes. On the contrary, He is the God of the universe and, if Jesus is your Savior, He is also the Lord of your life. Therefore, putting Him in a box and leaving Him in your closet until you “need” Him is not only silly; it’s sacrilegious. If we truly believe He is Who He says He is, then we need to start treating Him like it. With reverent fear, humble worship, heartfelt love—and a committed, devoted, and daily relationship with Him.

When I first got my nasal spray prescription, the doctor explained to me how it worked. She said, “Steffi, this spray isn’t going to be a quick fix. Yes, it will work immediately, but in order for it to have its full effect, you have to use it every day.” Having used this spray for the past almost three years, I know she’s right.  When I use it every day, my breathing is better. And having followed Jesus for longer than that, I know that the same principle holds true with Him. When we meet with God daily, when we wake up early to spend time with Him, when we are disciplined in studying His Word, and when we seek to make Him the focal point of all we do every day, our relationship with Him has its full effect. Like the medicine, He starts to change us from the inside out—and He uses us to change the world. But it all has to start with Him.

Every day.

… even after nights when you can’t sleep. 😉

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