It happened…again. I planned to get up early and spend time with Jesus; just the quiet, dark, devotionals and my thoughts. Why does it always happen that when I plan to spend this precious time with my Savior, something always seems to interfere and obstruct my efforts? I know, the easy answer is the enemy. I plan to grow and cry out to and spend time with God, so naturally the enemy throws a twist in things because that is the last thing he wants me doing. But it is more than that—it is my blatant choice to choose other things over God. Some extra time putting on make-up. One more time with the snooze button. Endless excuses of all that went wrong the night before. In the end, that is all everything amounts to . . . excuses.
Yes, I was up all night with a sick child running a horrid fever. She was unsettled and in pain, and as a mother I could not sleep knowing my child was in such a painful state. I only had 40 minutes of sleep last night, 40 minutes in the past 24 hours. Many would say, “Well that is completely understandable then, there’s a very valid reason you did not have the time!”. But is there, is there really? I already had pretty much no sleep all night and knew it would be a rough day at work, so what would that 40 more minutes really cost me? Being sleep deprived but with a sense of comfort and peace at spending those moments with Jesus would have given me more strength than that 40 minutes of sleep I just had to have. But is that what I did, did I heed his calling to spend time with him in the absence of sleep? No, it hurts my heart to say I did not. I laid there, minute after minute and hour after hour, trying to close my eyes, tossing and turning, becoming frustrated and praying for sleep.
Instead of praying for sleep, I should have embraced this tender time with him. I should have asked him to just give me the strength to get through the day, instead of praying to sleep so that I could rely on my own strength. I should have . . . I should have. How many times have I said that? How many times do you say that? In that moment, we know what we need to do and yet time and time again, we choose the alternate route. More times than not, we regret that decision. But yet we repeat this pattern over and over. We are human; we are selfish, controlling and creatures of habit. When will Jesus be important enough to always be our first choice?
You see, we were not meant to handle things on our own. We were not meant to control things in our own strength. We are not taught to drown out God’s voice and prompting in order to attend to our own agendas. Those are choices, choices we willingly make. God has much to say about leaning on Him for strength, sacrificing in His name’s sake and relinquishing control. Let’s take a look at what God says is the proper way to deal with these things while we are in this world.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)
Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (Philippians 4:13 MSG)
Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 GNT)
Follow my example: Even the Son of Man did not come for people to serve him. He came to serve others and to give his life to save many people. (Mark 10:45 ERV)
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)
I was very worried and upset, but you comforted me and made me happy! (Psalm 94:19 ERV)
I could go on and on and on. The Lord tells us very directly that when we were saved by Jesus’ willing sacrifice on the cross, it gave us the privilege of letting him carry our burdens. Burdens may look different to each of us; lack of sleep, defiant children, a crumbling marriage, financial struggle, family discord, and so forth. But he tells us that he wants to carry them all, if we will just allow him to. Part of how he carries these is when we spend time with him. When we talk to him and lay our burdens down, he lifts them up with grace and mercy. He enables us to do things (and get through things) we never could on our own. So why do we fight so hard against this surrender when we know the relief and blessing it brings? Whether it is something you see as miniscule or whether it is something that feels like the weight of the world . . . make the sacrifice to hand it over. Sacrifice your pride. Sacrifice your strength. Sacrifice your time. Sacrifice your sleep. Sacrifice your control. In these things, Jesus can give you back ten-fold what you offer to him, and he smiles and beams with joy at each attempt we make to spend time with him, no matter the circumstances. He is worth it—isn’t it time we show him that?