Whenever I gather with the girls to chit chat…women 55 years old and upwards…the topic of conversation often turns to our sleeping habits. The lack of uninterrupted, sound sleep.
Most are empty-nesters. Some have retired from work. It’s a new season of life. But does that mean we must adjust to a new sleep-cycle season as well? Nights of restless sleep?
Just for fun, I Googled “causes of insomnia” and 75,400,000 results popped up in .57 seconds. Not only millions of causes, but also the remedies to bring an end to our inability to fall and/or remain asleep.
Yes, there are medical and physical reasons related to changing sleep cycles in the lives of us gently aging, but some of the more common reasons that I noted, skimming through a few of the pages on Google, were worry, stress and anxiety.
I only read a smidgen of all the solutions, but didn’t see a single one that mentioned prayer. Taking our concerns to God, even though we have explicit instructions to do so. In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I have wrestled with insomnia for the past two years. My problem isn’t falling asleep…waking up about 2 am and tossing and turning for several hours is the issue. After seeking medical advice, and working through some hormonal issues, the causes of my continued insomnia boiled down to worry, stress, and anxiety. Even though I tried various essential oils and holistic remedies, along with praying faithfully, nothing changed.
Last month I mentioned getting ready to leave for a mission trip in Guatemala. Urged by the Holy Spirit to get out of my comfort zone and go! Interestingly enough, God’s purpose for these trips is most often distinctly different from our expectations.
The strangest thing happened while in Guatemala…I slept. Very well. The whole week! Despite the very uncomfortable bed. Regardless of dogs barking incessantly and fireworks blasting off hourly.
How did I know about all the noises? Every morning the others in our group talked about how poorly they slept because of all the interruptions.
Towards the end of our week, one of my fellow mission trip friends (who knew my struggles with insomnia) asked if I could attribute the sleep to anything in particular?
Yes, the power of God is why I slept well. As commanded, I went to Guatemala. In faith, I stepped out of my comfort zone, ready to experience whatever God had orchestrated.
Anne Graham Lotz said it best: “Discover the power of God. Step out of your comfort zone. Take the risk of faith.”
While in Guatemala I didn’t go to bed at night worrying about my first world to do list and how to accomplish everything on it. And because of my poor time management skills, feeling like a failure at the end of the day when I realized how much was left undone. I had completely surrendered the week in Guatemala to God. I was on His timeclock with no expectations.
And I slept. That peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guarded my heart and mind from worry, stress, and anxiety, allowing me to experience my Father’s special gift of rest.
Upon arriving home, I fully expected no more sleepless nights. God and I were in a good place. Right?
Was I in for a surprise that first night home when I woke up 2 am, tossing and turning. Just like old times. What had happened?
I was back home. Home in my comfy bed and back to my old ways. Living according to my agenda. Not fully surrendered to the Lord.
Stressing over life. Again. At 2 am.
After a few days of restless nights, I was reminded of Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In Guatemala, I had a sampling of that rest. Jesus said His yoke is easy. Why was I fighting the surrender, again, back at home? The problems and trials aren’t going to disappear, but Jesus promises rest for my soul when I place my burdens upon Him.
Rest is found when my agenda is relinquished from my tight grip and placed in the mighty hands of Jesus. When I spend quality time in prayer and praising God and laying my burdens at the feet of the Lord. All is well with my soul when I walk by faith, surrendered to my Heavenly Father.
Every day the decision must be made…Who I will follow?…Jesus, or myself?
That gift of sleep in Guatemala was too powerful to just chalk up as a once and done thing. I don’t think going on that mission trip was just for God to tease me with a week of sleep… I am convinced that good sleep, on a regular basis, is attainable. But finding a cure to insomnia caused by stress, worry, and anxiety won’t be found in an over-the-counter or man-made remedy…Jesus is the remedy for rest.
When I surrender to the will of God and take every situation to Him in prayer…When I walk in tandem with Jesus, allowing Him to lead me, teach me…Then there will be rest for my weary soul.