I’m laying here in my bed, surrounded by my new 5 pound pillow (no joke), my new Grover, my books (currently Goapel Deeps and Les Miserables), my computer, my phone and my favorite blanket.
And I can’t fall asleep.
You might say “Well, of course you can’t fall asleep, with all that junk in bed with you.” But these are the things I sleep with every night. Lately I’ve been trying to listen to music as I fall asleep, to try to place my racing thoughts that never quiet down on worship instead of the thoughts that run a continuous loop through my mind. But tonight the music just sounds like noise, so I’ve turned it off.
But tonight I can’t seem to settle down, to fall asleep. The anxiety is high, the fear of the night is high. I lay here and shake and my stomach aches and the only thought that continues to run through my mind is “God I can’t take another step forward.”
This is far from a new thought. This is a thought that comes back to me continuously, that plagues me even. But tonight it is especially strong. Overpoweringly strong. I’ve fought this thought all day, and discouragement, thus leading to a completely unproductive, wasted day, I’m embarrassed to admit. I’m angry with myself over this wasted day.
“God I cant take another step forward.” Usually this is followed with the phrase “without you”. Much like Moses said to God in Exodus 33:15:
15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.”
But tonight I can’t quite get to where I need to get to, which is to say “God I can’t take another step forward….without you.” As I lay here and try to pray, my prayers just don’t seem to reach the conclusion that they need to, that they must. I find myself stopping just short of “without you”.
Why? Why is it this way in my soul tonight? I’m not sure. It could be anything. I had high, expectant hopes for 2013, and I still do, but it’s gotten off to a much rougher start than what I had planned. For all my crew. I keep telling my kids to hang on, things will right themselves, we will get moving in the right direction, and yet the past 5 days have felt like 100. For each of us. It could be lack of sleep, it could be worry about the future. It could just be unreasonable yet reasonable fear of the night ahead. It could just be that I am tired, alone, scared.
“God I can’t take another step forward.”
And so I lay here trying to pray, trying to get my soul to the place it needs to be, the place it wants to be. Because there is a big difference between saying “God I can’t take another step forward” and “God I can’t take another step forward, without you.”
And so I remind myself what is truth, and that is scripture. Rough starts to a new year are just that, a rough start to a new year. Rought nights are just that-rough nights. Illnesses are just that–illnesses. Anxiety is anxiety and fear of the night is fear of the night. Nightmares are nightmares. Worry about the future is senseless, useless. I am not alone. I am not alone. What is life-saving is what I read in scripture. And that is that my God’s name is Immanuel–which means “God with us.”
And so I will lay here for as long as it takes, for this truth to seek into my soul and do it’s work. For the shaking to stop, for the anxiety to cease, for the fear to flee, and for peace to come. And until my soul can say, hopefully before 5:30 AM tomorrow, “God, I can’t take another step forward-without you.”
Immanuel—God with us. God with you. God with me.
Maybe your New Year is off to a rough start as well. If so, I am truly sorry. Maybe you, too, have much on your plate and are plagued by anxiety, worry and fear. Maybe you, too, fight off nightmares. If so, I am truly, truly sorry, because I know. Maybe you, wherever you are, need to join me tonight in fighting to remember that God, who came to earth as the divine human baby whose birth we just celebrated, is Immanuel. He is God with us. O, how I need those words to work on my soul tonight. Maybe, just maybe, you do too.