The Nocturnal Call

Some people sleep through the night without disturbance. The moment their heads touch the pillow; they fall into a deep slumber and remain insentient, until awakened by an alarm. Sadly, not me. I’m a light sleeper and regularly wake during the night, but can usually fall back asleep with ease. However, if I have something on my mind, sleep remains elusive and I accept it, because I know what’s behind it. What’s more concerning is, when I wake in the night for no apparent reason.

This happened recently when all was well in life, with nothing preying on my mind. Inexplicably, I woke at 2am fully alert and couldn’t fall back sleep. Although I was slightly troubled, I let it pass until it happened again the following night. This time I knew there was a reason behind it. I had read that the early hours of the morning are significant to many religions. Clark Strand’s Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age calls the dark, the “Hour of God”. The bible regularly refers to Jesus waking before sunrise and the Quran asks believers to “Pray in the small watches of the morning”. Some say the veil between the heavens and earth is at its thinnest in the early hours, making it the opportune time to commune with God.

With this in mind, I wondered if God had woken me to tell me something. I’d read that if we busy ourselves throughout the day, God will use the night hours to get our attention. So I asked God if He had something to say and heard (within) a question – “Do you enjoy the responsibility you’ve undertaken?” Immediately, I knew God was referring to the voluntary work I’d recently begun. Although my intentions had been good, I was increasingly overwhelmed with the demands on my time, but hadn’t admitted it to anyone (including myself), until God posed the question.

I conceded my misgivings and waited for God to respond. However, He said nothing further. He passed no comment, made no judgement and offered no advice. He simply left the question percolating in my mind. In the days that followed, my dissatisfaction with the situation grew and I began to resent the imposition on my time. However, I’d volunteered my services unsolicited, knew my contributions were deeply valued and believed I was pleasing God. This meant I had to persevere and so I did, until an unexpected storm gathered, triggering an explosion which revealed the truth. Suddenly, I was relieved of all responsibility, with good faith intact.

Of course, there are many spiritual lessons in this story. The misperception about what pleases God, wearing a badge of selflessness even when it’s causing harm and being afraid to speak the truth. Yet, the high point for me was God’s love. It was God who woke me in the night to gently confront a truth I hadn’t acknowledged. And when I failed to tackle my predicament, He orchestrated a resolution. So, the next time you wake in the night for no apparent reason, ask God what it is you need to hear.

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