Rest in the exhaustion

It's one of those mornings when night gives way to dawn too soon, and we drag ourselves out of bed tired, pull the sleeping arms of children off our necks, and slide woolen stockinged feet over to the devotion chairs, our own private retreat in a bedroom too small. Crack spines on Bibles and open homework for our recovery group, and pray together. Interrupted as usual, half-way through, by the pitter-patter of feet coming to claim breakfast for growling tummies, the toddler-baby clamoring for a few more minutes cuddling under down with Mama.

The moon meets the rising sun across the cobalt sky, the stars shut out by the glistening dawn on newfallen stone. The big crater there feels like the hole in my heart, hungry always for more time with my lover and more time with the Lover of my soul. 

The juxtaposition of night and day a poignant reminder that time is short and redemption of it in short supply as well. We walk our days like prisoners, often, to routine, to schedule, to tasks. I am  the Taskmaster. The laundry folder, dish washer, floor scrubber, diaper changer, child tender. 

There must be more than this,
O breath of God come breathe within,
There must be more than this,
Spirit of God we wait for You.

Fill us anew we pray,
Fill us anew we pray.

Consuming fire fan into flame,
A passion for Your Name,
Spirit of God fall in this place,
Lord have Your way,
Lord have Your way with us,

Come like a rushing wind,
Clothe us with power from on high,
Now set the captives free,
Leave us abandoned to Your praise.

Lord let Your glory fall,
Lord let Your glory fall.
~Tim Hughes, as sung by Hillsong, Consuming Fire~

The craters on the moon like craters in my heart, always wanting more. Always wanting healing. Peace. Happiness. Injected with the culture from birth, inoculated against true joy and forever searching for pleasure instead. Yet in those empty places where I see the emptiness, He begins to fill. Little by little, the cup fills, and runs over.

To wake up early seems antithetical to rest. Indeed He says, It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2) Then, too, in the consummate book of love, Song of Solomon, the lover tells his beloved, Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; Let us see whether the vine has budded And its blossoms have opened, And whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love. (7:12) And the Psalmist brings his petition early to the Lord: I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. (Psalm 119:147)

So I rise early (most days). And find sleep, blessed or tormented, every night. And wonder at the miracle of rest He bestowed upon us, that renews us and finds us ready to face the next day. I have a history of sleep deprivation: working night shift, pulling all-nighters sometimes several times in a row in college, and I know that it is a spiral downward to sickness of body and soul.

And in the slow, incremental dance toward habit, my husband and I dance closer to together in the flickering pink light of dawn, and souls knit over the Word, and we come to peace with our journey together. God is good, always. Especially in this, this rising early, this going to bed at an ungodly hour (10 o'clock, people! My husband wants his night owl wife in bed at 10 o'clock! I often think it is a travesty...)

And in the between times, the night wakings, the nightmares, the torments in the darkness, I sit on the front steps in the cold and watch the stars in wonder, pinholes in the velvet blanket of the sky, and He heals my soul in the whisper of the wind and the blessed quietness.

Emotional rest is giving soul over to the hands of one in control, giving over exhaustion, confusion, chaos and pain to a God who understands and cries out with me. The God who nudges me out of bed in the  morning for devotions with my husband. The God who wakes me in the night to pray for those I love. The God who is slowly breaking down demons of my past, and shattering the walls self-built that only He can shatter, the walls that hedge me alone. He is bringing me out into the open for the first time in my life.

Blessed quietness, holy quietness,
what assurance in my soul,
on the stormy sea, He speaks peace to me,
and the billows cease to roll.
~Manie Ferguson, 1897~