I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. Psalm 3:5 (NIV)
Because I have not yet played the lottery and won my fortune so I can quit my job and do whatever I want whenever I want to, I try to be in bed by ten so I can get up with the sun to do chores and still get to work on time. In the last couple of years, however, I have found that my mind does not want to instantly turn off as soon as I put my head on the pillow. I may be in bed at ten, but I may not sleep for one or two hours after that. I have schooled myself not to jump up and go do something as soon as sleeplessness takes hold. It is easy to lay there and think of all the things I could be doing. I could be stringing beads or folding laundry or wiping down kitchen counters or reading or writing. Instead, I lay still and force my body to relax. Toes, knees, hips, shoulders. I visualize them quiet and calm. All except my head which zings around from thought to thought like a ball in a pinball machine. While sometimes, I am keyed up about an event or conversation that occurred that day or am contemplating something that will take place the next, I don’t usually go to bed worried. I have studied my diet and concluded that it plays some role in this wakefulness. I don’t drink anything with caffeine, quit eating chocolate after lunchtime and limit my sugar intake after supper. I also restrict my evening activities not attending late night meetings at church or watching television both of which I tend to play over and over again in my mind. No matter how careful I am, however, five nights out of seven, I lay there with my mind racing from one thing to another. I do not start out anxious, I am simply awake, but the longer I lay there in the dark, if I am not careful, I will turn to fretting. Like a sandstorm that begins with a little wind and a speck of dust, before I am done, cancer, war, hurricane and famine will be at my door. I have been offered a variety of suggestions for my wakefulness. Pills, alcohol, exercise or warm bathes might work for some. But, the cure for my insomnia lies in prayer. Not in reciting a list of my needs or desires, but in praising God for Who He is. I often go through the alphabet associating one of His characteristics with each letter. A is for Almighty. B is for beautiful. C for compassionate and so on. Sometimes, I will make a list of all I have to be thankful for. Health, jobs, family, home. It may take a while, but eventually, I will go to sleep. And how much better to drift off with the image of the One Who controls the world and wants good for me than fears about the future!