As Pine Valley UMC continues the sermon series Encounters with Jesus, I am reminded and thankful for what my mom shared with me. She told me if I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, then it may be the Holy Spirit waking me. Also, if I wake up in the night with someone on my mind, then I should pray for them because that could be the Holy Spirit nudging me to pray. On the radio this morning, I heard the end of a conversation between a Christian songwriter and a DJ. The songwriter was saying that the words of the song had come to him in the middle of the night. The DJ said that was biblical. He quoted Psalm 42:8, "By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life."
As a writer I know that I do a lot of my writing in the middle of the night. I first noticed this when my girls were young. I decided that was the only time God could meet with me and it was quiet and my mind was clear. In the middle of the night the subjects, the words and the stories from life come to me so clear. The majority of the first book I wrote was done in the dark while I was quiet and still in bed. Years ago I used to hear people say, "I want to sleep on it" when making big decisions. I thought that meant they wanted to pray about it overnight. There is an old proverb about the pillow being the best counselor. I believe it all comes from God wanting to find us quiet and talk to us. I believe these are encounters with Jesus!
Most people are frustrated and some furious when they wake up and cannot go back to sleep. We probably think this comes from anything but God. We feel like what could be more important than one more hour of sleep? I am not referring to people with sleep issues. But, let's face it, if you are going to be awake anyway.....spend that time with God. I believe He wants to share with you, tell you something special and spend time with you. Maybe He wants to have a heart to heart with you. Maybe He just wants you to know how much He loves you! I can tell you that the nights I was up with Him I was not tired the next day. I was refreshed.
“Night time”, “before dawn” and “fourth watch of the night” are mentioned many times in Scripture. Matthew 14:25, "Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake."
Jesus urged Peter to come out and walk on the water with Him. He did it because He loved Peter and wanted to encourage his faith. Peter was changed by this encounter with Jesus. He repented of his sins and followed Jesus. Imagine if Peter and the other disciples rolled over and went back to sleep. Imagine if Jacob had refused to wrestle the Lord in the middle of the night until the breaking of day. There would be no “Israel.” Samuel heard his name called not once, but four times, in the middle of the night.
1 Samuel 3:7-11, "Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle." Can you imagine the Lord saying that to you?
Do not miss out on an encounter with Jesus. A true encounter with Jesus sends us out to tell others about Him. We, like Peter and Samuel, will encounter Jesus joyfully and become changed people, following Jesus and connecting hearts to Christ and one another. Next time you lie in bed awake say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." Then listen! You may be getting ready to have an encounter with Christ!