We recently uprooted from the rolling hills of Tennessee and began to plant new roots in South Florida not even 3 weeks ago. Emotions had already been high yesterday as I dropped my husband off for a business trip to Italy, on this the 19th day in the home we’re renting. I was missing a familiar life and routine, as well as longing to be establishing our potential forever home here on Earth, rather than honing my gecko-swatting skills in a home that is not our own.
Sleeping has been hit-or-miss for both of us here. I can count on one or two fingers the number of restful nights of sleep I’ve gotten here so far, not entirely sure why, but last night was no exception. As I laid down to sleep, mind somewhat racing, replaying details of church conversations just an hour before, and thoughts of my husband’s trans-Atlantic flight, I was hyper-aware that it was teeing up to be another restless night.
Though I’d prayed about my sleeping and safety, I still took humanly measures (lights on, etc) to ward off any imagined intruders. While trying to relax, eye-mask securely in place and sound machine on for noise, I was routinely startled by little pop and crack sounds every so often. My mind would vacillate between an imagined intruder of the human variety and also of the reptile sort. I decided to pull the eye mask back for a moment to confirm or deny my suspicions at the patio door in front of me.
Fear is not from God (2 Timothy 1:7); therefore, God allowed the enemy of my soul to capitalize on this weak moment to the max, like never before. I swore that I could see a human outline standing outside the door. I pulled the eye-mask off further to try and verify. My mind and flesh kicked into full-on fearfulness as I grabbed for my bedside tactical flashlight and shone it on the curtain, which was simply hanging there still and innocently. Not yet convinced, I grabbed my bedside handgun and quivered my way over to pull back the curtain.
Much ado about nothing. No one there. Nothing to be alarmed about. (Amusingly, I would realize the next morning that the door handle is on the opposite end of where I was looking anyway!) As I lay back down, thinking this is going to be impossible to sleep, and how am I going to manage the next 8 nights of this, the tears start rolling out. “I hate this patio door in my room, I hate the exterior door in the bathroom, I hate being in this one-story house with geckos, I miss Tennessee, I just want to be in our own home, I miss being on the 2nd floor…” and on it went until God’s Spirit broke through the whining and clearly spoke Psalm 20:7 to my heart,
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
This isn’t even a verse that’d crossed my mind or been in my reading in ages. How gracious is our God to have patience with my fear, with the trust in my “chariots and horses” of lights on and flashlights and guns, and my disregard for the only One who watches over and cares about my life more than anyone! The Psalms, especially, are filled with reassurance of God’s care for us. He was lovingly, patiently, yet emphatically reminding me that He is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1). We ought to still be responsible citizens to protect ourselves and our loved ones to a reasonable degree, but we must be vigilant to assess where we’re putting our trust and hope, and to acknowledge that above all God is sovereign. No matter what happens, He has allowed every single thing in our lives for our good and His glory.
Not one to mind reinforcement on any lesson, I next appreciated His asking, “Am I more sovereign in a 2-story house?” Ouch. Truth. I was, again, creating this facade of safety in my mind that I was safe from harm up high. It’s really just laughable. God is sovereign over EVERYTHING that comes into our lives. If He is not sovereign, He is not God! As Lamentations 3:37 teaches us,
“Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?”
After these two precious and convicting moments of truth, I acknowledged my trust in Him alone and surrendered that imagined control back to Him as well. The immediate peace and rest in my heart carried me off to sleep in only moments. What a blessed encounter with the Living God.
As I rejoiced throughout the day over the Lord’s tender compassion for me in the night, He was graciously not yet finished encouraging me. Someone I’d only met for 4 hours, on a car ride in June back to Nashville from The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, sent me a text today, which was 3 months to the date from the last time I communicated with her! She said,
“Praying for you today! God’s Word turns the wilderness into a land flowing with milk and honey! Praying God wins the battle for joy and contentment in Jesus for you today!”
Oh, the overwhelming love and grace of God washing over me today. I stand amazed in His presence. After sharing how timely her encouragement was, and that God had used her mightily, this friend went on to encourage me to Release, Receive, and Rejoice. “Release your wishing for Tennessee, receive His promise to use you wherever He puts you, and rejoice that the Kingdom is moving forward and advancing all over the world!”
In that same sense, last night I learned to release fear, to receive God’s peace and presence as my comfort and refuge, and to rejoice to all of you today over what the Lord has done.
“That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”
Oh, why is life so much more frightening in the dark? I seldom sleep the first night my husband travels. I’m so glad God spoke his gentle rebuke and restored your peace! Sleep well my friend, and rejoice for those geckos who eat bugs all night long 😅
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Thank you! And i have thought about the fact that mosquitos are horrendous in WI right now, but no big deal here!
God has plans for us and everything we are going through now is only going to strengthen us for whatever comes next! You and Peter are in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing. We will see eachother again!
Manivone and James Stephanek
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