Something different. Still not sure what caused it.
I tried to go to sleep last night at a more normal hour -which right now would be midnight for me instead of say 1 or 2 a.m....=/ However, sleep would not come. In it's place, came something better. As I lay there in the dark, I felt peace and joy - almost tangible joy - along with praise welling up inside me. I found myself praising God in what I always think of as "Nigerian Style" because that's how my Nigerian "daughter" always prayed - just different from Arkie home-grown prayers - trust me on this one.
She would often start off thanking God for things like having gas in the car and food on the table with real, heartfelt thankfulness. She might go on to add thanks for the fact that it was not our portion on this particular day to wake up sick or in the hospital. Then her prayers would increase in intensity as she would plead the blood of Christ over her friends and family who were in distress. There was definitely none of the God is good, God is great... now I lay me down to sleep stuff in her prayers. All of our friends loved to hear her pray and often as we were ending chill time together, we would pester her to pray out loud... in Nigerian! :) It was so strange but even when she prayed fervently in her own language - which was incomprehensible to us - we felt His presence so much more than we did when our own prayers wafted towards the ceiling in English.
Last night, my prayers weren't as fervent as Yetty's but they were from the heart - actually, if I am allowed to say it - from outside my heart. My petitions weren't whiny, fearful, or composed of incessant begging - the way a child nags at a parent until they get their way. Please, Abba, please... would You...
I was so surprised by the peace and joy, confidence even that seemed to be welling up within me that I tried to figure out why it was happening. This is what I came up with:
1. Someone was praying for me and that's how God answered them - by wrapping me in His love, giving me a respite from my normal fearful self. So if you prayed for me yesterday or last night - thank-you! God definitely heard!
2. God used the thoughts planted by the Sullivan Four blog to re-direct my thoughts, as He has done in the past. The blog talked about how God can transform worriers and how He actually did that for their daughter, Hannah. I needed to hear that - went back and read it twice before going to sleep.
3. God had been working throughout the day to show me that He really is Sovereign, that He does all things well. (All I can compare yesterday to is like spending hours upon hours toiling uphill, staring at the ground and at the little bit of trail that you can see snaking between the thorns and the brush and then.. suddenly.. you reach the top and you can look back and actually see that there was rhyme and reason to the path that you've been following).
4. At some point yesterday/last night, I took a small step towards reaching out in a particular way, something that fear has kept me from doing for a long time. It occurred to me last night, as I lay there quietly rejoicing in His presence, that fear must cancel out joy.
5. I have felt for the past few days that it wasn't the thing to go right into yet another thriller/adventure/espionage novel. I don't think God has anything against them at all. I just felt that He wanted me to stow the adrenalin-laced stuff briefly b/c He wanted my attention. Thursday night, I went ahead and started a new novel anyway, sort of tipping my hat to God in the process, reading until my eyes were tired, and then falling into a fitful sleep. Last night I was going to pick up where I left off in the novel but reluctantly decided not to. It's hard for me to believe that just laying aside a fun novel for one evening could lead to such a palpable sense of His nearness but maybe it could. I really don't know.
Whatever the reason, I'm grateful. As I lay there last night, feeling so close to Him, I thought: this must be what Heaven is like. Only in Heaven you know it will never end -you'll always feel His nearness, His peace, His confidence, His joy and there'll never be that nagging certainty that sooner or later the experience will fade.
Is He less real this morning because my mind is running on it's normal track?
Would I like to experience His nearness like that more often?
What do you think? :)