Lately, I’ve been having trouble sleeping.
Not in a dark, dramatic, “the cares of this world keep me up,” kind of way. Or in an, “I’m an incredibly unhealthy being who surfs the internet when I should be sleeping,” kind of way. (I may be a teenager, but I’m not THAT far gone…) I’m not prone to mindless worry, so it isn’t like I’m tossing and turning as I stew over endless pessimistic theories for the next day.
Yet I can’t sleep.
Nighttime, it seems, is a playground for the mind — my mind, at least. When the house is quiet, when daytime tasks are done, when I’ve used up my daily quotient of snarky quips… That’s when my brain comes alive. And as I ponder life, the universe, and everything in it, willing the numbing hours to fly faster so morning will come again, I find that oftentimes, I feel… sad.
Not depressed. Not glum. Not mopey.
Do you ever drink an entire cup of hot-chocolate only to realize you were so preoccupied with whatever else you were doing, you didn’t take the time to properly enjoy it? That’s how I feel. I get to the end of the day, I look back, and I see an entire hot-chocolate gone to waste. Not because I didn’t get anything done, but because the things I did weren’t the right things to do — not exactly.
When it all comes down to it, my mind goes back to a single question. A simple question, really, though I have no answer for it:
Why do we sacrifice our eternal well-being for the sake of a few shabby imitations of pleasure?
It sounds strange, and a tad philosophical. But the applications are perfectly down-to-earth; in fact, I think we’ve all pondered this at some point in time, in some way or another. And I think we’re all equally stumped by it.
Because really, I mean… why?
Why would we rather daydream instead of pray?
Why would we rather read fluffy novels instead of the Bible?
Why would we rather talk about ourselves when there is so much wisdom to gain from listening to others?
Why would we rather stare at a screen for hours on end instead of watching the sunset, or counting the stars, or sprawling in a patch of afternoon sunlight, or laughing just for the heck of it?
WHY ARE WE SO BLINDED BY HUMAN GLITZ THAT WE CAN’T SEE THE GLORY OF GOD?
For the record, I’m not judging people who do these things. That would entail 99% of humanity, and I’m not so arrogant as to say I’m any different. I like my fiction. My music. My computer. Good grief, the entirety of my blog is me talking about myself. And these things are perfectly fine, to a certain extent.
But at the same time–
I should want God more.
And I do, I really do — at least, I think I do. I want to hear Him speak to me in prayer, I want to feel His presence, I want to know He’s with me always. I want that desperately, and it scares me that I don’t have it. Why don’t I have it? Why does He feel like a ghost more often than not, slipping around the edges of my consciousness but never fully there, never tangible — never real to me?
And there it is, the reason I’m sad. Not because God isn’t with me. He is. He’s always with me, always near. It’s His nearness that makes me sad, because even though we’re so, so close, we’re separated — divided by crudely constructed walls of my own fleshly desires.
Brick by brick, stone by stone, every single one of us builds a wall between ourselves and our Lord — a wall made of mindless distractions, frivolous entertainment, and foolish ways of sating boredom. I fight against these handmade chains, bemoaning the fate of time ill-spent. But that’s where a paradox comes into play: Though I hate the distractions, I don’t know how to stop them. I see the end perspective, the big picture. I know that in the long run, all is vanity. And yet–
I like my mindless entertainment. My human silliness. My shallow fun. Though the glimmer may be temporary, the lure is no less real. And second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, time slips away.
Day by day, humanity inches toward forever, completely ignorant that we’re sacrificing eternal joy for temporal okayness.
So I lay awake at night. I think back. I contemplate. And I feel sad. As life quiets, the distractions fade away and the powerlessness of my human condition rests heavier — deeper — as at long last, I fully comprehend how fallen I am, how wicked my flesh is.
And in the sorrow of knowing I’m not strong enough to change myself, I hear the Lord whisper through the darkness–
“My mercies are new every morning.”
Perhaps we don’t have what it takes to struggle through the distractions. But He does. And when morning comes — as morning always does — sadness turns to hopefulness, and hopefulness turns to faith.
Minute by minute, humanity slips over the brink of forever. And Jesus waits beyond the shadows of our temporal existence, beckoning us forward, beckoning us to give our seconds and minutes and hours to him.
Minute by minute, forever comes.