i am sitting here on the couch at five minutes past five in the morning, blanket-wrapped and hunched over my computer. my hands are shaking and the nightmare was half an hour ago, but i can still see it, waiting in the shadows of my memory…i tried to fall back asleep, but it wouldn’t let me. i feel sick to my stomach, and though i was and am still very tired, five isn’t so early when the alternative is shivering in the dark. so i felt my way downstairs, so i could feel miserable somewhere where i could at least turn on a light.
i am not one to do the whole open-the-Bible-stick-your-finger-in-it-and-read thing. i don’t believe that is how God’s Word is supposed to be read and studied. but i do know that God is faithful to give us just the correction and encouragement we need, just when He knows us to need it…whether that is through a friend, a song, or, as this morning, through Scripture–namely, the psalms i happened to land on when hunting for some comfort in the semi-dark.
psalm 55: ‘give ear to my prayer, o God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. give heed to me and answer me; i am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me. my heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me…for it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then i could bear it…but it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng. […] as for me, i shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. evening and morning and at noon, i will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me. […] cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. but You, o God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. but i will trust in You.’
tears filled my eyes as i read that. the reason my dream had shaken me so badly was because i had placed my trust in man…not men of bloodshed, but in ‘familiar friends’. but friends–no matter how true and how real the fellowship we share–are not God. they are human, and they will fail. perhaps they will not betray us, but they will fail us…just as we will fail them. the only one worthy of all trust, the only one who can be called upon time and time and time again without fail, is God Almighty, to whom we have access through Christ. this is a precious privilege, and i confess, it is one which i have overlooked of late. i pray, yes. but it has been some time since i claimed the privilege of casting my burden entirely on the Lord…and leaving it there.
i turned the page. psalm 56: ‘in God i have put my trust, i shall not be afraid. what can man do to me? Your vows are binding upon me, o God; i will render thank offerings to You, for You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that i may walk before God in the light of the living.’
i kept reading, down through psalm 57: ‘be gracious to me, o God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings i will take refuge until destruction passes by. i will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. my soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire…be exalted above the heavens, o God; let Your glory be above all the earth. […] my heart is steadfast, o God, my heart is steadfast; i will sing, yes, i will sing praises! awake, my glory! awake, harp and lyre! i will awaken the dawn. i will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples; i will sing praises to You among the nations. for Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds. be exalted above the heavens, o God; let Your glory be above the earth.’
i never understood that passage, the whole ‘awaken the dawn’ imagery. i do not know that i understand its exact purpose in the psalm, but oh, do i understand the concept now. because i find myself curled on a couch, the window in front of me still solid dark, waiting for dawn…but thankfully, no longer waiting in fear. or at least, not solely in fear. the truth is, the nightmare still shakes me. but God’s truth is a precious weapon against the deceit of my dream, however convincing it was. i find myself sitting here, still as incapable of falling asleep, still as tired, still as sick, still as frightened…but able now to combat the lies. and able, though feebly, to praise our great God, who is trustworthy, steadfast, truthful, and glorious.
because whatever the nightmares say, He is good, worthy of trust and worthy of praise. but it’s hard to see that, in the dark, when the dreams seem so real and they make you doubt the people you love and trust the most…
truth. it’s the best way to combat lies. and the truth is, people fail. dream-people and real people will fail you. maybe not in the same way, but one way or another, people will fail you.
God never will.
and that is truth, solid, sure, and glorious.
awake, dawn, and praise Him with me…