Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Night Watch

Why are times of sorrow, struggle, doubt times when we find ourselves up at odd hours of the night? We can't sleep, so we toss and turn. A new baby wakes every two to three hours. Children often get sick at night. I, for one, always find myself praying for dawn. All I need is light to give me that glimmer of hope, that whisper of a promise. When someone else is awake, I can cope a little bit better.

But the Lord never sleeps.

I am not going through one of these times. In fact, recently, my daughter has decided sleeping through the night is a pretty good deal, and I agree with her. But as I woke this morning, as I usually do these days, before dawn, I thought I would read through "The Night Watch," a prayer time that falls typically from midnight to dawn. I rarely read these prayers and readings because I am so literal. They are the midnight prayers, the night vigil, and I am up intending for my day to begin. I am glad I made an exception today.

Here are some of the words I read this morning:

Psalm 119:147-148
"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise."

Why is the author awake? So he can "meditate on [God's] promise"! I rarely think about meditating on God's promises when I find myself awake against my will. But consider if I woke up ON PURPOSE to cry out to God and meditate on His promises during times of great struggle, doubt and oppression. What if we all did during those times for each other or our country?

My dear mentor, who is helping me, encouraging me, and participating with me to memorize scripture, has told me to take a line or a verse from the passage and focus on it all day. What does it mean? How does it apply to situations in life? Today, as I read through Psalm 63 as a part of this prayer time, I found myself reading four verses through again and again:

Psalm 63:5-8
"My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."

Within these verses are promises remembered, refuge taken, praises sung. Notice the benefit for our souls when we meditate on the Lord "in the watches of the night": "satisfied as with fat and rich food." How hungry my soul has become over the years. Too often I neglect that which my soul needs in times of greatest need. It is the Lord who sustains and upholds me.

It is different for me to think of being up during the night as a time to seek the Lord's face and rest in His promises, meditating on all He is - in other words a blessing - but I pray I remember to do just that when it happens because He is not a God of day alone, but He created the night as well.

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