I am fairly certain that most of us have lain awake at night with racing thoughts; even good thoughts that simply won’t turn off (one person described that he often has a song playing that he can’t stop hearing—and it was a worship song at that). The frustration and agony of this cannot be ignored. Roll over onto right side, fluff pillow, adjust the sheets, close the eyes—no, no, no! Don’t look at the clock—DON’T LOOK AT THE CLOCK! Too late. You looked.
Ok, so it was midnight. Still plenty of time to get to sleep without waking up feeling exhausted. Lots of people stay up every night until midnight, no big deal.
Roll over onto the left side, fluff pillow, adjust sheets, curl into favorite sleeping position. Ok, eyes are tired, time to sleep.
How am I going to pay all the bills that are due this month? Lord, I am trusting You to pay these bills. But where is the money going to come from? I keep having to charge something because there isn’t enough in the account to cover it and now the garbage disposal needs to be fixed. And my house desperately needs to be painted—the south side is bare wood in places. Lord, I am trusting You to take care of this for me. Roll over, fluff the pillow, adjust the sheets, get into favorite sleeping position, don’t look at the clock. Oh, the economy—the rise in gas prices, the rise in groceries—we are really headed for a big fall here. Everyone else I know is buying extra of everything, stocking up food, water and emergency supplies—Lord, I need You to handle this for me; please show me how I can be a good steward and start my emergency fund. Dave Ramsey says I should have an emergency fund of at least 3 months of wages in cash! How do people do this when their month outlasts their paycheck? Lord, I am trusting You to provide for me in this upcoming economic catastrophe. But, what if there isn’t enough money? I am supposed to have a supply of gold—a good steward saves for emergencies—they see the coming catastrophe and have prepared in advance for it. Lord, I want to give more to You, and I know You tell me to test You in this—give and it will be given—pressed down and overflowing—why doesn’t that work for me? It works for everyone else. Lord…oh and what about my grandkids—their parents can barely afford groceries anymore and I so want to be able to help them…Lord…I know what I can do, I can give over and above to others and God will take care of me; He promised to take care of me … Lord …I could sell the house … no, that won’t work, the housing market is the lowest it has ever been. …
Roll over, fluff pillow, adjust the sheets. Darn, now I have to go to the bathroom. Go to the bathroom. Oh No! Looked at the clock. 2:00 am. Still plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep. Let’s see, if I go to sleep now and wake up at 7:00 I’ll still get five hours, that’s enough sleep.
Get back under covers, now I am really tired, feeling relaxed, body not tense. I can finally go to sleep.
I wish I hadn’t opened my mouth again and blown it with that person. Why do I keep doing that? Tomorrow I’ll call them up and apologize. Lord, that person always gets me upset, but I turn them over to You and will forgive them for always saying just the wrong thing to upset me.… The reason I got so upset is because they always make me feel guilty that I’m not doing _____ at Church. I wish I hadn’t said I would take on that project at Church; now I am completely over-loaded and where will I find the time? I must learn to say no. But Lord, You know I love to serve You. Oh Lord, thank You so much, You have blessed me with so much and I am such a whiner and murmurer … if that person does that again, I’m going to just ignore it and pray for them. Lord, I pray for ______; I know You love them and died for them … ooooh it made me so mad, they humiliated me in front of all those people—why do they seem to enjoy humiliating me so much? Lord …
Roll over, fluff pillow, adjust sheets, accidently look at clock—the thing is shining like a neon sign blinking in the window! 3:30 am. I have to be up in three hours. If I go to sleep now, I’ll feel worse when I wake up. May as well get up now.
Can the abiding life principle apply even to this scenario?
I believe it can. I have done it numerous times now and it does work. I know, I know, all the arguments will flood in “You don’t understand my sleep problem, this doesn’t work for me, I’ve tried it.” I am not pretending that I have a magic bullet. I am only going to apply the truth of God’s word to this situation. If God’s word is “God-breathed” as 2 Tim. 3:16 (NIV) says, and if it is “living and active” as Hebrews 4:12 says, then it is a living, breathing organism, not merely words on a page. If God’s breathed out, living and active word has power to tear down strongholds, to cast down “imaginations” and every high thought that exalts itself above God (2 Cor. 10:3-5), then how can this apply to my racing thoughts in the middle of the night?
This is the nuts and bolts of the abiding life. It is taking God at His word, believing that it is exactly what He says it is and then applying it to every situation. Can my middle of the night worrying, murmuring, fretting, racing thoughts, even racing songs be considered “high thoughts?” I believe so.
Can I take those thoughts “captive” in obedience to Christ? I believe so.
Can the “living, active” word of God be enough to take them captive? Yes, definitely. But it requires a certain amount of discipline to learn this, and most of us don’t want to have discipline in the middle of the night. Most of us just want to go to sleep. I will be accused of teaching “vain repetition” when I tell you how I have taken these racing thoughts captive, but I can tell you that this is the only way to overcome and have victory.
Let’s repeat the above scenario.
How am I going to pay all the bills that are due this month?
Lord, I take that thought captive in obedience to You. I invite You to think Your thoughts through me. What are Your thoughts Lord? Your God-breathed Word gives me that answer “[W]hatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8-9).
The garbage disposal, Lord I need … I take that thought captive in obedience to You Lord and I choose to meditate on You—You are true. You are TRUE. Your Word is truth and I choose to think on You right now. Thank You for Your truth, thank You that you have already supplied all my needs according to Your riches in Christ Jesus. Thank You that You will provide for the garbage disposal.
I need to stock up, get my emergency fund … I take that thought captive in obedience to you, Lord and I choose to believe that Your promise to “feed me in time of famine” is Truth. The news media, the well-intentioned books and articles are likely true, but they are not TRUTH. They are of a bad report and I choose to think on only Your good report.
Do you get the picture? Even if for the first several times you do this, you are still lying awake all night taking thoughts captive, you are in the process of truly winning a huge battle against the enemy of your soul—a very real enemy who wants to tie you up in knots and prevent you from trusting in Jesus Christ and His word, and hopefully in the end, he can even cause you to accuse God of never answering your prayers, because after all, you were praying while all of this was going on and He never helped you.
The question posed to me many years ago shook me to the core. “Do you not believe that He cares for you much more than for the little birds? Do you not believe that He will take care of you even when there is nothing left?” I thought I believed, but I didn’t. I was an unbelieving believer. I wanted to be a believing believer; I invited Jesus to begin this new work in me and what a ride that was. But in the end, worth every aching muscle, every painful failure, every mistake I made in the process, because in the end. Jesus Christ won and I believed Him. And, he has never failed nor forsaken me. And He will never fail nor forsake you. You can take that to the bank.