When you can’t sleep

There are only a few nights that it happens.

Everyone once in a while I have trouble going back to sleep in the middle of the night. Going to sleep is never a problem for me. Going back to sleep isn’t usually either.

But I’ve long decided that if it’s been fifteen minutes that I’m still awake, I’m getting out of bed.

I may pray. If I can find a small light, I’ll read. Sometimes I’ll write.
Last night was one of those nights. So, I did two things: I read and I reflected.

In my reflection, this thought came to mind: When you can’t sleep, dream.
Take that as advice. Take it as a practical pointer for getting through restless nights. Take it as nonsense.

It’s yours now.

Stay blessed…john

Being and Becoming

The phrase “Becoming is better than being” has been around for a while.

I love what it means. It reminds me life is best lived in the discovery of what it means to be human. A mountain doesn’t worry about its purpose. Clouds have no ambition. But you and I are different.

We seek meaning and purpose in life. As followers of Jesus, we found those in Jesus. He shows us the best way to live our lives in pursuit of holiness and righteousness.

Now, you’re used to hearing someone like me, a pastor, encourage you to spend time in worship and prayer, reading the Bible and serving God’s people. We have learned those activities, what we call spiritual disciplines, help us become. It wouldn’t be too wrong to say become “like Jesus.”

Now, we could be someone who says they are a Christian. But labels can conceal more than they reveal. Many have adopted the Christian label without embracing the Christ-like way.

That’s where our spiritual disciplines help us. We learn to become.

In all that talk, you could get the impression that our faith is about doing more. To be sure, for God so loved the world he did something. Anytime you need forgiveness or mercy, God gives. God does. As we experience the everlasting love of God, the grace of God compels us to care for the needs of others. To stand for justice. To actually walk with God in humility.

Those are all things we do.

And yet, it’s okay to sometimes be. Becoming is better, we’ve said. But we never agreed by how much. What if it’s only a morsel better? Then that means being is okay, too. Maybe stopping to be helps us appreciate what we are becoming.

I say all that because I don’t want you to think all your Bible reading or praying makes God love you more. To go down that road is to believe you’re earning God’s favor. I wish you no luck with such an endeavor because it is impossible. In fact, you’ll struggle with feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

In Genesis 15, God appears to Abram in a vision. It’s best to remember what has happened in Genesis 14. Abram defeated a group of kings. It was a miraculous victory. It appears Abram worried this miracle was his reward. He had done something great and that would be God’s fulfillment to him.

God’s first words to Abram were, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Abram wasn’t quite convinced about the reward part because he expected a legitimate heir. So, God told him to count the stars–there are your descendants.

Abram wasn’t just to be victorious. God’s promise was that Abram would become a father to many nations. Which one was better?

I try not to struggle with those feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. I don’t fight them as much as I accept them. Afterall, we’re talking about our place before God. So, I’m fine being inadequate and unworthy before God because I know the Lord is completing the good work begun in me. I don’t have to work for it. And I for certain can’t earn it.

I get to keep becoming and being. And that gives my life purpose.

Stay blessed…john