I used to count sheep…
Can’t sleep? I’ve been there too!
I guess that is one of the many joys of being in my fifties. All of a sudden I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night! I’ve tried many remedies like counting sheep, drinking a glass of warm milk or reading a book, but none of them have worked. The longer I try to quietly lay there coaxing myself back to sleep the more restless I become.
When we were young we may not have wanted to go to bed because we were frightened of the boogie man. Well many years later as I still lie awake, I have come to realize that the boogie man still exists! Only now the boogie man is doubt, regret, shame, fear… The enemy can do a real number on me during those sleepless nights. Sometimes I am woken up by a bad dream or my thoughts drift off as I am trying to get back to sleep. He ends up twisting things around so that sleep becomes next to impossible. At that point counting sheep is just too passive as I really need to go into battle to fight this boogie man off!
There are a few tools I have learned that have helped me in this battle. A few years ago I completed Priscilla Shirer’s bible study, The Armour of God. I highly recommend it! We have no choice but to prepare ourselves to fight back as we will be attacked by the enemy at some point.
The Armour of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
I followed up that study by watching a Priscilla Shirer movie called The War Room. It was a great practical example of how we can arm ourselves with prayer to win the battle. One of the techniques used in the movie was one that my pastor also suggested I use. She suggested I try speaking directly to the enemy and firmly say, “I rebuke you Satan in the name of Jesus Christ! God is present in this room. God lives in this house and He lives in me! You are not welcome here. Take the doubt, regret, shame and fear that you are trying to place on me and get out!”. I have to tell you that this one tool is so effective for me when I am struggling with him in the middle of the night! I don’t actually yell this out loud, because I would wake my husband, the kids and our dogs, but I do say it firmly within my head and feel it so strongly in my bones. I’m at war and I am determined to win!
Not all my sleepless nights are spent in battle. Some nights when I wake up I feel God’s presence and fall quickly back to sleep. I want to share the following story with you to explain that a little further.
This past Christmas the Star of Bethlehem grew to have a very special significance to me. The shepherds followed this radiant light in search of the coming Messiah. The star also provided the Wise Men with direction as they journeyed to worship the new King. Under that star they would all find love, peace and hope. The significance for me this past Christmas is that I too found love, peace and hope under a different kind of star.
My husband Rick visited his parents a few years ago and brought home a simple cardboard star covered in tin foil. His father had made a number of them to decorate an outdoor tree that Christmas. This star meant a great deal to Rick. This year I came across it as I unpacked our decorations and decided to hang it in our bedroom window for the season.
One night I woke up and was thinking about the Christmas story. I gently rolled over and noticed that the street lamp outside our bedroom window provided just enough light to create a glowing effect around that star. It reminded me that God was present. I noticed that night after night I would wake and simply look over for reassurance that the star was still shining and that He was indeed there. I had found my own peace, love and hope under that tin foil star.
The new year came and it was time to pack up the decorations for another year. That star had become quite special to me as well and I wanted to be sure it wasn’t misplaced. I carefully wrapped it up so I would have it again for the following year. I wanted to be able to have that same experience as I relived the Christmas story again next year. But within just a few days I really missed that star! I loved the visual reminder it gave me of God’s presence in my home.
Rick and I went away for a few days out to the lake. While we were in a small gift shop and I saw a metal star on sale in the 50% off bin. I knew right away that I needed to pick it up. It didn’t cost much, just $2.44! It couldn’t have been more perfect though. When we got home Rick hung it in the bedroom window for me.
The star may be something we remember only at Christmas time, but God is present all the time. His gift is His love and it is available to us anytime and anywhere if we choose to believe in Him and His redeeming grace. I made that choice and His loving and guiding spirit lives within me now. Knowing that provides me with the best rest ever!