It was not a romantic interlude underneath the crisp starlight skies. It was not a late night of conversation, tears, and laughter with friends. No tonight my midnight rendezvous was with a sink full of soapy water and a counter of dishes that had stacked up over the past two days.
Yes, at 12:24am I should be sleeping. Yes, I want to be sleeping. But there is an ache searing through my entire body that is keeping me awake. I am not sick. I am exhausted and exasperated from the past two weeks. No cold, no flu, no virus, but I tell you it feels like even my hair hurts right now.
So what else is a woman to do in the middle of a sleepy, achy night but wash some dishes. When it feels like no meaningful progress has been made in my week, that the mountains I have moved somehow have regenerated, doing the dishes while my family sleeps soundly is deeply satisfying. For the next few hours the work that I have done will remain that way.
Wash dishes and write. Washing dishes lends itself to thinking. Thinking leads me to writing. Here I am 1:04am typing away in hopes that my midnight rendezvous with some dish soap may just be the moment needed to meet someone else in their sleepless struggles.
I could have chosen to stay in bed. I would probably still be stirring from the whirring thoughts in my head and in my heart, but there is no way that would have felt productive. At least this way my stirrings did not disrupt my husband and made a splash of progress.
Certainly Not Planned
This midnight tryst I seem to have going on was certainly not what I had planned for this night. Even a mere four hours ago, I did not see this coming. Because at that point I had fallen into a deep sleep on my couch while watching TV with my kids.
If we really think about it, how many of the things that keep us stirring in the midnight hour did we plan and make accommodations for? Physical pain, financial struggles, wounded relationships, fear & wavering faith, anxieties, bad dreams, red eye flights, mountains of work, caring for loved ones needs, and so many more things that keep us up when even the sun has long disappeared.
“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up,
the seed sprouts and grows,
though he does not know how.
All by itself the soil produces grain –
first the stalk, then the head,
then the full kernel in the head.
As soon as the grain is ripe,
he puts the sickle to it,
because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:27-29 (NIV)
There is something that is really resonating with me about these verses tonight.
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
Perhaps it is simply because I have been both asleep and up night and day. Maybe I am stalling on these verses because that is all the energy I have, three verses is what I can take in. But, I think it’s more than that because these eleven words, “the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”
While I was scrubbing my dishes, my mind was scouring through my past. I was recalling all the gross and grimy times in my life that I experienced incredible growth. So many of the experiences were ones I certainly did not plan for. Many I would not have chosen had I known and understood in advance what it would really be like.
One of the greatest blessings for my growth is my imperfect ability to understand. To move forward in faith while God’s grace cleanses my grime and His goodness brings glory out of the gross. My growth is slow and graduation, often happening in the dirt, in the dark of night. As I live through the experiences of my days I do not even realize growth is happening, let alone have the ability to plan for it.
Had I known in advance that the past two weeks would have required me so much effort and energy, that I would physically feel this drained, that my body would ache so badly that I could not sleep in the midst of exhaustion, I would have taken extreme evasive measures to avoid as much of it as I could have.
Even though it was a grueling and gross two weeks, I am glad I walked through what I did. I have a greater awareness of a few things that I did not know before. I can feel a renewed conviction that has been what I needed to just continue moving forward.
I am so grateful to God for the abundant and unexpected little blessings that have been bubbling up while He’s been scouring me during this time. There is just something about dish soap bubbles that add a bit of joy to the dirty work.
Live It Out
What have you been going through lately that has you stirring in the midnight hour?
What is it that you are experiencing that you wish you could have avoided?
What is gross, grueling, grimy in your life right now?
What is happening that you certainly did not plan for?
What is causing you exhaustion to the point of feeling like your hair aches?
Whatever your answers to those questions, no matter how exasperated the unplanned circumstances producing those answers are making you feel, you are not alone in it all.
Jesus’s goodness is there for you. God’s grace is available to you. The Holy Spirit’s guidance offered to you. Take whatever imperfect understanding that you have and place it in their hands. Let them lead You, even if it is through dirt and darkness, slower than you would like. Sometimes a bit of soaking helps lifts the grime.
The growth will come. The understanding will increase. Vision will improve. Truths will be revealed. Joy will be shared. Conviction will become strengthened. The harvest will happen.
It is not likely to be what we think or what we plan, but when God’s goodness exceeds our expectations the generosity of His glory is magnified so greatly that it busts through all the grimy, gross, and grueling circumstances of our lives. Even for the woman having a midnight rendezvous with a sink full of dirty dishes and Dawn dish soap.
Pray Through It
Beloved and Treasured Lord,
Thank You so much for the power of Your grace, Your glory, and Your goodness. The grimy grossness of our circumstances is washed away by Your Power. Lord, the aches and pains are so challenging to endure.
Lord, we know that the sting of suffering is unavoidable (although we do try hard to avoid it) and we know You have suffered much worse for us, but the hurt, it really hurts. We are grateful in the pain for Your perfect understanding to get us through what we do not yet know. Lord, You bring growth through ways we can not even imagine.
Help strengthen our trust, not in our plans, not in our understanding, but in who You are as the Holy Trinity mightily available to us. Help us turn to You, talk with You, take what little we have and place it all in Your hands, even in the middle of the night in the dark and in the dirt.
Grow our faith. Strengthen our convictions. Reveal Your truths. Share Your joy. Bring the Harvest, Lord. In the glorious name of Jesus we pray, amen.