Advent | Week 3 | Friday
Friendship on Fridays
My first time to sit with Larry and discuss a problem I was facing happened in 1995. I had completed my Masters Degree in Biblical Counseling the year before under Larry but had never scheduled a time to sit with him in his office. I’m certain I was too intimidated to share and was overly concerned that Larry see me favorably. Now, however, I was an intern in the same program, with Larry as the department head. I still wanted to be seen favorably, but wanted help in a particular area even more.
I scheduled a time and sat down. In classic therapeutic fashion, Larry began with, “How can I help you?”
I went on to tell him about a problem I had with sleeping. Or better stated, my lack of sleep. I was a chronic insomniac and hated the medically-induced sleep remedy of sleeping pills because of the fog they left me in the next morning and grogginess throughout the next day.
It was then that Larry took a different approach than I was expecting. I thought he’d try to come up with another alternative to fix my problem. Instead, he asked me to tell him about a typical night for me when I couldn’t sleep.
“It doesn’t happen every night. But some weeks I’ll be up 4 or 5 nights. I usually get to bed about 10 or 11, and then somewhere between 1 or 3 in the morning, I start to stir. Often a particular thought or problem will come to mind and my mind will get going on it. For the next half hour or so, I start a battle with my will to go back to sleep or get up, filled with countless pleads with God to help me sleep. After a while I eventually get up and try reading, praying or journaling y way through whatever has captivated my attention. After an hour, or two, or three, I eventually crawl back in bed for a quick nap before I finally get up between 5 and 7.”
Without missing a beat, Larry asked, “What usually happens before you get back in bed?” “Well, I guess I eventually end up flat on my face most nights, crying out to God that I might know him better or have courage to face some new challenge or in utter worship of some new kindness he’s made me aware of…”
The next thing said to me lingers to this day, “And you want to get rid of this, why?”
Taken about, I said, “What do you mean? I want to get some rest. Waking up keeps me from getting the rest I need.”
Then the clincher, “Perhaps, God is committed to a different kind of rest than you are. Perhaps, He’s more committed to your soul finding rest, than your body.”
Confused, I said, “So, what are you saying, that my insomnia isn’t a problem?”
Again, without missing a beat, he said, “Are you trying to tell me your most intimate tastes of communion with God are a problem. Maybe your restless nights are the only time he can get your attention without all the other distractions of life crowding Him out.”
Still taken back, I respond, “So you really don’t think I have a problem.”
“Oh, of course you do,” he said with a lightheartedness that surprised me. “But it’s not God interrupting your sleep. From one insomniac to another (referring to himself), you need to realize you’re in good company when God wakes you up in the middle of the night. Go back to your Bible and see how many people God visits in the middle of the night. So, do you have any other non-problems we can fix?”