I'm beginning to see a pattern here: the new year starts and I am sleeping less. Every night there are obstacles that get in the way of a sound night's sleep. I'm not really perturbed by this. I'm mainly curious as to whether God is trying to tell me something, such as- "you sleep too much or too long", or "it's a myth that you need 7 or 8 hours a night" or "Talk to me, Lauren". If God is trying to talk to me, I'm just wondering why we can't have our chats in the day time.
Last night Bill snored and coughed all night. Alex didn't get to sleep till after 1am because he was studying for a test today. I heard him in the hallway, opening kitchen cupboards looking for snacks, running water in the bathroom sink. I hear every single noise, the mice scratching in the walls (when they decide to visit) ,and every creaking sound the house makes- but I apparently am not hearing God.
I flopped in bed last night, fully spent- and happily spent- from teaching the LIFE workshop at church. I expected to drift off to sleep, but it was more of a drifting in and out of sleep that occurred- all night long.
There is only one thing I do hear God saying to me. It's a very unsettling question. I know God is speaking this because of the book I just happen to be reading. It's an older book (2000)by an author who is quite popular now. This is John Eldredge's book, The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life We've Only Dreamed of. I knew this book was for me; expressly for me to read at this point and season of my life. I opened the book up this morning and continued on. And then I read it. I read the question that has been haunting me. I see this question now, here in the pages of the book.
"What do you want?" That's the question. That's what God has been asking me for a while, now. And since I have not fully answered God, I think He is waking me up at night so we can discuss this lack of response on my part. It's very easy for me to get frustrated with my life and to lament that I am not progressing or that I am not fruitful enough. But then I have to face the question of "What do you want...specifically?" That's when I slowly start to back away from the question. I thought I had answered that years ago.
Eldredge recounts the biblical story of the disabled man lying by the pool of Bethesda, in chapter three, "Dare We Desire?" He speaks about Jesus asking the man, "Do you want to get well?" and how Jesus was probing for more than just the response, "Of course I do." Years of longing for something- and then not seeing it happen- had changed the man, had caused him "to lose any vital heart-connection to what he wanted."
Later, Eldredge discusses the story of the prodigal son and his return home to a feast and celebration, while the son who had dutifully remained sulked and stormed over receiving no party in his name. "He tells his father...that all these years he hasn't gotten a thing in return for his life of service. The father's reply cuts to the chase: 'All that is mine has always been yours.' In other words, 'You never asked.' "
I'm almost thinking that God is allowing my sleep to be interrupted so that He might get me at a weakened state, unguarded and vulnerable. What will I tell God in those midnight hours? Will I voice the dreams of my heart, and then brace myself to be disappointed again; that I must wait, and then wait longer? Or will I tell God it's too late that He asks me what I want because I'm older, less energetic, not wanting to take risks as quickly as I used to, and that in my mind, it's as if Lazarus is dead. If Lazarus is dead, why is Jesus visiting me? What comfort could He offer me if the one I love, or the thing I long for, is dead?
"But even now...." Yes, that's what rises to my lips in stubborn faith- as it did to Martha's lips. She told Jesus, "But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." (John 11:22) Even now, in spite of what I see, or in spite of the stench of dead dreams or of delayed dreams- dreams delayed so long that they are moldy and lifeless- even now, I will believe You, Lord. I will believe you to the point that I am ruthless in my eagerness to tell you all I long for, to tell you again what I once told you years ago.
I refuse to be like the third steward who hid his one talent while the others went out, risked, and multiplied what they had. I refuse to be suspicious of God handing out talents and think He is somehow trying to get me to dare to dream- only to rip the dream out of my hands. The third steward who hid his talent thought he knew the master's heart, was convinced the master was hard and mean, not extravagant in grace if the steward had fallen while trying to fly.
"There is this hurt and angry place inside, a very old wound... Life has not turned out the way we want, and we know God could have handled things differently. Even though we may profess at one level a genuine faith in him, at another level we are like the third servant. Our obedience is not so much out of love as it is out of carefulness. 'Just tell me what to do, God, and I'll do it.' " (Eldredge).
God is refusing to hear my request, "What do you want me to do, Lord?" as a genuine request spoken out of eager love and faith. He sees that I'm just being careful and cautious when I ask God what He wants next from me. Perhaps God sees that it's time I answer His question, "Lauren, What do you want?". My reply will be telling. It will indicate how big of a heart I think He has, how much grace and overcoming power I believe He doles out to His children.
My reply will tell God more than just the specifics of my dream. It will tell God that I believe Him for more. That I believe Him to be generous and giving and so forgiving of any botched up steps I take on my way to living out a dream...a dream that that He planted in me in the first place.