For several hours I gazed at the glow from the streetlights which reflected onto the bedroom ceiling. As I listened to the heavy ticking of the second hand of the clock in the next room, I knew that I had to sleep because tomorrow was rapidly approaching.
I was unable to calm my mind. I thought about my church and what the future might look like; I thought about my future and considered my own calling and how I see it unfolding. I thought about my beloved who was asleep next to me and her tireless effort to support us and encourage me through the uncertainty of my calling and the spiritual and emotional turmoil that frequently accompanies such journeys.
Turning my head toward the clock, I saw that tomorrow became today.
I went into the living room and opened my prayer book to “Prayer at the Close of Day” also known as Compline.
In that section, my prayer book falls open to almost the same page where I read the familiar words,
Keep watch, dear Lord,
with those who work or watch
or weep this night,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep…
This is the beauty of common prayer, that Christians everywhere share these same words. Last night I realized that I was not praying for “those” but I was praying for us. I realized that that night I was one of those who “work or watch or weep this night.”
I wasn’t alone. Others were awake. Some were working, others were on watch, and still others were weeping.
I wonder how many others were lying awake, unable to sleep. Carrying such heavy burdens upon their souls.
I read it again, “Keep watch, dear Lord, with those…” God not only watches over those who keep watch, but God watches with us. God watches with us as we work or weep through the night.
* * *
At times, I hear some people say that the minister represents Christ. I disagree, as one person cannot stand in for Christ. But all that aside, last night I was not a minister. I was simply a person watching in the night, unable to sleep, and awake as God was busy preparing tomorrow which had already begun to arrive.
I am not Jesus, I cannot be Jesus. I cannot save the world and I cannot carry the weight that burdens me. I joined the chorus of those who were awake while others slept; those who work, those who watch over others, those who carry sorrow and worry in their heart. I was able to take comfort that maybe somewhere else, maybe even down the street, someone was praying those same words because they could not sleep.
* * *
As I returned to bed to attempt to rest once more, a song came into my mind. From Veggie Tales.
God is bigger than the bogeyman.
He’s bigger than Godzilla
and the monsters on TV.
Oh, God is bigger than the bogeyman,
And he’s watching out for you and me.
I chuckled to myself, but then realized that yes, God is bigger than the bogeyman, and God is watching out for all of us. Because God is watching out for us, I can rest knowing that I am not Jesus and I don’t have to be.