Not too long ago – for at least three nights solid – my almost one year old decided he needed to get up every hour for the first few hours of the night. He’d eventually stretch it out to two and then three and then it would be morning. It was exhausting. I remember thinking I’d never sleep again. I wanted to keep him in bed with me; I wanted the basinet by the bed. I thought I should just stay up. I wasn’t getting much sleep anyway. Wouldn’t it be better to get none rather than a little?
One night after I had been researching intercessory prayer that day, I had a thought. I had been listening to a recording of Sunder Krishnan speaking at Urbana 2009. The talk was entitled “Pray Big and Pray Bold” (I highly recommend it). He talked about the importance of finding scripture that reflects your situation to use as evidence of God’s work when you pray. That night I was shuffling back to my bed, carrying my baby, for probably the third or fourth time, and I decided that I really wanted to be praying. I couldn’t turn on the light to pull out the scriptures or a book I have on praying through the sacred hours in order to pray the midnight prayers (Seven Sacred Pauses* by Macrina Wiederkehr). I started racking my brain for scriptures that mentioned someone waking up multiple times during the night. I laughed a little because while the Bible is 100% relevant to parenting, it is not an indexed collection of specific needs and solutions. But then a story came to mind.
The story is that of the prophet Samuel found in 1 Samuel 3. One night when Samuel was a boy ministering to the Lord, after he and Eli were in bed, he heard someone calling his name. He jumped up, ran to Eli and said “Here I am, for you called me.” Eli said “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” This happened three times before Eli realized it must be the Lord. He told Samuel to stay in bed the next time and respond “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
The humor of this struck me because Samuel, the acting son of Eli, kept getting up and going in to Eli and waking him up. It sounded so familiar (though I hear a crying, needy baby, or a 4 year old, not the voice of the Lord). Samuel was losing sleep. Eli was losing sleep. All because no one recognized the voice of the Lord. In that moment – my bleary eyed, third day in a row, middle of the night, tired moment – I realized that even though the Lord wasn’t speaking to me directly, I wanted to receive anything He might want to give. Whether it was as simple as cuddles with my growing baby or the practice of prayer or remembering His word even in the darkest moments. Literally the night watches.
As we raise our children, we need to recognize daily how we are encountering God. May we never forget, though, that there is always more than a possibility that our children are encountering God in their own way. May we always be ready to recognize the voice of the Lord for both ourselves and our children.
Join the Conversation!
Do you struggle with the reality of parenting in the night watches? Where have you seen the Lord active in your children’s lives?
Scripture quoted from 1 Samuel 3. New American Standard Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 12 April 2016
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