“Oh my Gosh, I look absolutely terrible!” I thought, looking at my reflection in the mirror. It is common knowledge that a girl’s appearance determines if the day will go well or not. This was a bad start. No make-up could ever conceal the huge, bluish bags circling my watery eyes. I turned away in disgust, inwardly moaning over my lack of sleep. Stumbling down the stairs, I carelessly pushed the door of the classroom open. I was definitively not in the mood to accommodate people today. Beware the grumpy bear!
As the morning went on, my head regularly dropped to the side, and it definitively took all my willpower to stay awake. The teacher kept casting worried glances in my direction, which I assumed was because of my blank stare. By the end of class, I could have been categorized “out of order.” While everybody made their way down to the dining hall, I remained in my seat. Putting my head between my hands, I squeezed it in an attempt to wake the remnants of brain that lived there.
The morning lecture had proved to be a real ordeal, and a lump formed in my throat as I struggled to find a way out. I mean, is there anything worse than the lack of sleep? Of course, I could be among starving children in some African country, or mourning the death of some close family member, or even living in a time of war. But that I didn’t want to hear. I was in for a pity-party and nobody would have taken that luxury from me.
The hours dragged on and I often looked at the clock, willing it to speed up. Finally, it was bedtime. Early on, leaving my friends to their conversation, I climbed up to my bunk, feeling purposeful for the first time of the day. After turning around a few times –just picture a cat- I found the best position and contentedly allowed my body to relax. I was ready to sleep… I said sleep. But sleep wouldn’t come. You know this counting-the-sheep thing to fall asleep? Well, it doesn’t work. One by one, my roomates came into the room until the last light was turned off. My eyes however remained wide open as I still tried to convince my brain it should be asleep. Ideas kept coming and going, and I just didn’t seem to find the command “off.”
I then undertook to pray, alternatively telling God all the reasons why He should help me get some rest and why I could not do so. After a few hours of that game, one of my friends found me in the bathroom crying in despair. “God doesn’t answer me,” I sobbed. She wisely sent me to bed with a sleeping pill, but not after debating with me whether or not it could become an addiction. The situation was slowly turning into a comic tragedy.
I was glad when morning came. Goodness, had I ever appreciated sunlight before now! But even so, I felt very tired. Grumpily sitting on my bed, I glanced at my roommates. Somewhere inside of me, I almost wished they hadn’t slept as well so that they could sympathize with me.
Now, for the sake of my surroundings, the best I could do was to go outside and spend some time with God. At first, I marched on the path leading to the nearby forest. Nature didn’t ease my frustration as it usually would. Everything looked black and white today. Bugs and those of your kind, you’d better not find yourselves in my way, or else…
After a while, a thought pierced my overloaded mind. I tried to focus. It had something to do with what the pastor had preached last Sunday. During the Exodus, the people of Israel would often suffered from thirst. On one of these occasions, God told Moses He would provide water to His people from a rock. Probably out of anger and frustration, Moses ended up hitting the rock instead of waiting on God.
I stopped abruptly in my tracks. Lord, what are you trying to tell me? Have I too tried to hit the Rock instead of humbling myself before You ? Forgive me for doubting Your words, Your faithfulness, Your power. At that moment, I decided to surrender everything to God. Insomnia, bitterness, fear and anger… Everything was laid down at the foot of the Rock. Looking up, I found myself able to picture that mighty mountain, so stable and unchanging. A cry rose from my heart: “Oh God, quench my thirst with your living water.”
Coming back to reality, I cast a glance to my watch and… GASP. My goodness, everybody must wonder where I disappeared. I quickly turned on my heels, feeling like skipping on the way. Life was so much better without that heavy yoke on my shoulders. I found myself recalling a story I had read in my childhood. The main character, Tooty, was a young eagle whose mission consisted in delivering a package to a far-away country. During his journey, he met Gunster, an older eagle who kindly offered him a ride on his back to cover part of the distance. Tooty accepted and boarded contentedly on Gunster’s back. After a moment, Gunster turned his head to make sure his passenger was comfortable. To his surprise, the little eagle stood on his back, tightly holding on to the package. The youngster looked so tired and sweaty. Rolling his eyes, wise Gunster gently remarked, “Tooty, it doesn’t make any difference to me if you decide to put down your package. But it could be a mite easier for you boy!” Although he obviously showed signs of fatigue, the youngster stubbornly shook his head. He was going to show him what he was capable of, big time!
That sounds a lot like me, I smiled to myself. If only I would listen to my Heavenly Father instead of being so independent. I quickened my pace, suddenly eager to share my story with my friends. Somehow, there was no doubt in my mind that I would sleep better. And indeed, the day after, I woke up after a good night of rest, feeling lighter than I had been in a while. Tumbling down my bunk bed, I went to my duties humming to myself. Around me, the room quickly became a hive of activity as everyone strived to get ready on time. As I gathered my books, I couldn’t help but give a thumbs-up to God. Lord, I know, it has taken me a long time to listen and obey! But thanks for meeting me where I was at!
“If only you had listened to my commands! Your peace would be like a river that never runs dry. Your righteousness would be like waves on the sea” (Isaiah 48:18).
(God’s Word version)