“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Psalm 4:8).”
It’s hard sleeping this time of year. I live in a Nordic country which is currently experiencing “white nights”.
One former colleague posted the sunrise and sunset times in her hometown above the Arctic Circle on Facebook yesterday. There was about 45 minutes in between these events.
In my location farther south it isn’t as bright,but it’s close. The sun officially sets between 22:00 and 23:00 and rises again about 3:30 am. In between is twilight and perhaps about 45 minuted of darkness.
It’s hard enough to sleep in this kind of environment unless you have good curtains or eyepatches. But it’s even worse when your heart is troubled.
I will be unemployed in about three weeks and I am looking for work. Having to write and talk about myself so much to strangers, especially professional ones, is nerve wracking.
Although I have a lot of strengths on a professional level, I haven’t been perfect. In fact, my recent history includes a failed work experience.
There are all kinds of details I will leave out here. Also, I do not intend to use this space to argue my case or assign blame. Let’s just say that things did not end well.
This makes it difficult when I go to apply for similar jobs as the one I had. When they ask to speak to my supervisor at this place of employment, I inwardly cringe.
I have no choice but to give them a name. I then know that my prospects with the employer I am currently talking with aren’t good.
So, there’s a lot of stress right now. I really don’t care what time it is because I just sleep when I feel like it. (As an educator my schedule is pretty flexible in the summer.)
It’s easy in my situation to beat myself up over this whole thing. People have expectations and sometimes you don’t meet them.
Author and pastor Bill Merritt tells of his own experience where he almost lost his job. He notes that talent isn’t enough anymore.
Merritt says that people want you to actually be able to relate to them. They want you to ask questions and be interested. They want you to be nice.
“Imagine that!”, he writes.
“Nice” was not always my forte on the job I left badly. I think I did an excellent job there, but I could have handled relationships better. As a result there is an irreparable rupture between me and this company.
My apology was not accepted. Subsequent correspondence to this organization has gone unanswered.
I’ve improved some since then. However, as noted above joblessness is hovering and I don’t have much going on, and this failure hangs around and occasionally surfaces.
It is hard to recover from personal failure. This is true in the workplace and at home both.
When you fail people don’t trust you. They get mad at you. Not only that, you get mad at them, especially if you feel as if your treatment is unjust.
You lose fellowship and friendship. What to do?
Well, as a Christian I know that it’s not a good idea to quit on God. If I stick with Him, He will stick with me.
However, if I abandon God, He will abandon me. It’s my choice (II Chronicles 15:2).
I noted above that when there is a relational fracture in the workplace that the parties get mad. I notice that God tends to get mad when people don’t treat Him with respect, too.
The Psalmist tells leaders that they had better submit to Jesus, or else! Destruction is on the way when our Lord is ignored, rejected or rebelled against (Psalm 2:10-12).
The Psalmist says that God is an honest judge. He gets angry at the wicked every day and takes action against them (Psalm 7:11-13).
So, what’s my part? Well the Psalmist tells ME if I want to sleep at night that I should:
-submit to Jesus myself (Psalm 2:12b);
-control my 0wn anger and trust God (Psalm 4:4,5);
-pray for God’s active protection and action against my enemies (Psalm 3:1-4,7);
-ask God to take care of my reputation (Psalm 4:2,3);
-ask God to rescúe me from the mess in my heart and out there in the world (Psalm 6:1-10).
This last point is especially profound. Until last night I thought of God as someone who would come in like the calvary to perform his rescue. I didn’t see Him as someone who stuck around the garbage dump I’ve created in my heart and life.
However, it occurred to me yesterday evening that Jesus is down there with me in the junkyard. He is there waiting patiently for me to acknowledge Him while I sit in the stench.
This thought reminded me of an old booklet from my youth. Robert Munger wrote a short story called My Heart Christ’s Home which was popular at the time.
In this piece Jesus is invited into a man’s home. Room by room he begins to set the man’s house in order.
Eventually, the man realizes he can’t keep his house clean and asks Jesus to do it. However, Jesus tells the man that He has no authority there: He is just a guest.
The man turns the deed of the house over to Jesus. From then on, the man is just the servant in the house and Jesus is master.
I learned last night that Jesus is not content to stay on the outskirts of our lives. I had forgotten this and didn’t think He wanted to be down there in the muck with me, but He does.
Yet, the Psalmist says He does. He wrote,”For you look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God”. (Psalm 7:9)
When we give over ownership to Jesus, we can sleep soundly. David found this out. He wrote:
I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
who surround me on every side (Psalm 3:5,6)
When Jesus enters the trash heap, it is not His intention to let it stay messy. He intends to clean it up, if I let Him.
If I do, I think I will sleep better despite the white nights. I will have the assurance and peace that He is there to take care of my messy heart and the rest of my trashy life out there.