Have you ever gone on a God Hunt? A God Hunt begins when you teach yourself to look for God’s hand at work in the every day occurrences of your life. Here’s one of my personal God Hunt Sightings:
Sleeping well is not a common occurrence for me. For most of my adult life, I’ve been lucky to average five to six hours of sleep per night—and even if I managed that, often it was a sleep where I woke every hour or so to check the passage of time (12:30, 1:45, 2:37, 3:10 … you get the idea).
Often, I just simply got up and delighted in the fact that I could put in 2-3 hours in the cause of productivity in the middle of the night. By 10:00 in the morning, I’d often done nearly a day’s work. This was great for my prayer life and my devotions, but not so great for my physical energy levels. By 2:30 in the afternoon, I dragged—maybe I allowed myself a short nap if I could get home. In the evenings, even reading was beyond me—I’d was just gutsing it out to stay awake until 9 or 9:30.
As I aged, however, I began to get it that this wasn’t a healthy way to live. I would have to solve the sleep problem (I have never used the word insomnia; I prefer to explain to myself and to others that “my mind just shoots out of the cannon when my eyes open—actually often before my eyes open.”)
I began to be mindful about being wakeful.
This last month, I’ve been averaging about 7-9 hours of sleep! As one of our granddaughters used to exclaim when she was about two years old, “Wha’ happen!”
I love this quote: “Of the spectator of the mysterium tremendum—the gaze of God—Jacques Derrida has this to say, ‘I don’t see Him looking at me, even though he looks at me while facing me, and not like an analyst from behind my back. … But most often I have to be led to hear or believe, I hear what He tells me through the voice of another, a messenger an angel, a prophet a messiah or postman, a bearer of tidings, an evangelist, an intermediary who speaks between God and myself.’”
I’m sure God observed my years of wakeful nights, heard my prayers, often met me as a beloved child and daughter, but having designed my body, He certainly was aware that wakefulness was turning from an asset into a dangerous detriment. I began to receive divine nudges from the God who is ever gazing at me—through the voices of others, messages in the media, a word from some intermediary—God making sure I “got” the point; my health was in jeopardy if I didn’t develop the habit of sleeping well.
John Payne, the president of Medical Ambassadors International who is also a friend and an M.D., made the casual comment over breakfast in his home one morning that chronic lack of sleep would certainly take off years in the sunset years of life. I heard him.
Another friend mentioned that her doctor had said if she took a Tylenol PM for the rest of her days, it wouldn’t do her any harm (I avoid pharmaceuticals like the plague they are). I begin to take an over-the-counter sleeping pill, just to see if it helped. It helped!
We had a friend living in the basement for eight months—no more banging around in the kitchen, cleaning the car in the garage, running downstairs to start a washing machine full of laundry, or vacuuming the house in the middle of the night (David, my husband, is a sound sleeper. I don’t wake him even when I pack suitcases in our bedroom with the lights on!). Not so with our basement friend—because of pain in his back, he too had wakeful nights. I didn’t want to disturb him.
Then another house guest, a college professor, moved into the upstairs guest room. Between these two men, my wakeful nighttime hours were now confined to my writing study. Might as well work on the sleep thing.
So, I began to do the work of building a habit of sleeping well. A friend I loved mentioned to me that she uses earplugs—no more wakeful incidents due to her husband’s snoring. Obviously earplugs were a must—I have a bag of them in the night table beside my side of the bed, in my traveling case, in my purse—and I use them. “What are you saying?” I question David as he comes to bed, filling me in on the last incidentals of that day. “I have my earplugs in.” I no longer hear snoring or cars on the road or rain on the roof or the train whistle across town; some of these sounds I miss—but I’m sleeping.
Warm and comforting covers—the velour sheets, which I love to sleep between in winter—are on all the beds. A closed bedroom door. I don’t allow myself to glance at the clock if I wake in the middle of the night. I don’t even open my eyes if I find myself awake. Not much prayer either, that too often becomes an ecstatic experience. This is work—learning to reprogram my mind to sleep, to sleep deeply.
On a vacation in Europe this fall, I slept like a baby—10 hours of rest after sightseeing walking for 3-5 miles each day. I was disconnected from the Internet, far away from responsibilities, and David took over the finances and the perplexing complexities of currency exchanges. Obviously, at home, I went to bed overstimulated by the ideas and energies of my everyday world. Change in the daytime patterns of my life was also overdue.
But good sleep, dreaming sleep, REM hours, are beginning to come. I’m going strong with just a little break here and there for whole days. (Perhaps I’ll even extend my life into a productive old age!)
I love the prayer at the end of the Office of Evening Prayers:
Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping;
that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.
May you spend your days watching with Christ, and may you spend your nights resting in peace.
Peaceful rest—I spy God!
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.