I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. [Psalm 6:6]
What keeps you up at night? Better yet, what should keep you up at night?
Many things bombard our minds begging for attention. We ignore them quite well with the busyness of our days. But in the stillness of night, they stream across our minds like an out-of-control teleprompter.
Unemployment, working remotely, or returning to the office in this weird new world. House repairs on top of the payments. Pros and cons of vaccines. Social status. Unemployment benefits running out. Physical distancing. Dating, engagement, marriage, breakups, divorce. Masking or unmasking. Meeting work deadlines. Personal safety and security. Negative medical news. Poor self-image. Investment worries. Overweight concerns and getting into better shape. Disloyal friends. Struggles with addictions. Kids – raising them right, addressing their rebellion, reconciling with the wayward. Retirement planning. Caring for elderly family members. Refereeing disagreements between family members or friends. World violence and turmoil. Rampant corruption. Biased versus alternate media sources. Unexpected deaths of loved ones.
The list is seemingly endless.
And yet, as serious as these issues are, there are far more impactful, eternally significant issues that should keep us awake at night.
Relationship with Jesus Christ
Knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Him personally. To merely know about Him is to miss His daily strength, presence, and direction and miss spending eternity with Him in heaven. Sadly, there are many who mistake knowing about Jesus for knowing Him personally. That is not my personal assessment. Jesus said so Himself.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven… Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me…!” [Matthew 7:21-23].
Imagine the surprised anguish of soul to stand before Him after death and hear those eternally damning words when all opportunity is passed of establishing a relationship with Him. Scarily, Jesus didn’t refer to unbelievers but to “religious” people who prophesied, had power over demons, and worked wonders in Christ’s name.
Knowing Jesus personally—being in relationship with Him—is to enjoy Him fully, each and every day here on earth, while also anticipating spending a joyous and glorious eternity with Him. Imagine, being in the presence of Love Incarnate, Immaculate Holiness, Divine Splendor, Unmatched Majesty. Then to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” [Matthew 25:21, 23]. Nothing is more important than hearing those words.
What should keep you up at night is even the slightest doubt regarding your relationship with Jesus Christ. Settle the issue today: What will you do with Jesus?
Intimacy with God
Once in relationship with Jesus, the next step is developing deeper intimacy with Him.
All we need is willing hearts, prioritized time, surrendered spirits, and open minds. The desire to hear from Him, learn increasingly more about Him, and become more like Him springs from an intense longing to spend time in His presence, with His Word, listening to the Holy Spirit’s whisper. We develop a sense of nearness by spending time together, listening, sharing, learning, memorizing, simply enjoying each other’s presence, closeness, and deepening intimacy.
A classic example is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She simply sat at Jesus’ feet, lingering in His presence, listening to His words, absorbing Him (Luke 10:39). Hers wasn’t a rushed encounter of ten minutes or an obligated hour-long meeting on Sundays. She longed for her heart to unite with His, to intimately know Him.
What should keep you up at night is the burning desire to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” [2 Peter 3:18]. To know Him more deeply, love Him more sweetly, and cling to Him more fiercely.
Finding and Fulfilling Individual Purpose and Destiny
Who am I? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? These are definitely sleep-stealers. Many people wonder if it is even possible to know why God created them and placed them where and with whom He did. Of course, God would not be God if He acted in random, haphazard ways. But a large part of the struggle is in waiting on a timeless God while being time-bound humans.
So, how do we pass the time? We delight ourselves in God, then trust and rely on Him to give us the true desires of our hearts [Psalm 37:4]. Delighting in Him means we please Him. We please Him by obeying Him and applying His Word to every aspect of life. We “acknowledge Him” in all our ways and ask Him to direct our paths [Proverbs 3:5-6]. Also, we let God handle sovereign orchestration while we develop ourselves—talents, gifts, personalities, aspirations, character, etc.—while taking the steps He clearly reveals.
Through all this, we face critical questions. Do we want our best (also known as God’s permissive will)? Or do we want God’s best (His perfect will)? Although He grants each person freedom to choose, He also invites us to surrender to Him who “works all things together” for our good and His ultimate glory [Romans 8:28]. This is why we need intimacy with Him. Only He can help us discern between permissive and perfect will.
What should keep you up at night is deciding whether you want a lifetime of regret or blessing. We are wise to surrender to His divine purpose.
Fulfilling the Great Commission
Just before returning to heaven at the close of His earthly ministry, Jesus said,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you [Matthew 28:19-20].
As His followers, our marching orders are to evangelize the lost, disciple and baptize new converts, and teach them God’s Word. Aside from wondering if we are destined to evangelize the remotest corner of the earth, we might consider something closer to home. There is a wise adage from seasoned missionary Charles T. Studd: “The light that shines farthest shines brightest at home.”
What should keep you up at night is identifying the unbelievers God has placed in your circle of influence. You may be the only “light” for your lost family members, work colleagues, neighbors, or other contacts. Having been born into God’s family through spiritual rebirth, the family resemblance should be crystal clear as a beacon for unbelievers.
Transformation into Christlikeness
Becoming more intimate with Him, we grow in grace and His knowledge, surrender to Him, and become more like Him. Actually, this is God’s goal from before the Creation.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [Romans 8:29].
Children usually grow up to look like their parents. So it stands to reason for true believers to become more and more Christlike. This happens through the process of spiritual rebirth followed by ongoing spiritual transformation.
What should keep you up at night is how you gradually exhibit more and more Christlikeness. As John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease” [John 3:30].
Preparing for Eternity
Eternity—what a mindboggling concept for finite minds. And yet, that is what awaits each person. Both God’s Word and history confirm that everyone has an appointed time to transition from this earthly realm into eternity.
Unfortunately, we tend to prioritize and focus on the here and now. We toss and turn over pressing temporal matters while ignoring the fact we have been engineered for eternity and will stand before Jesus to give account for our lives.
One way to adequately prepare for eternity is to realize the rewards and rebukes God has planned for each person.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. [1 Corinthians 3:12-15].
What should keep you up at night is the eternal impact you make while still on earth. Oh, may we daily live with one eye on earth and the other firmly fixed on heaven!
Now that I’ve given you plenty to think about as you doze off, sweet dreams!
Great article Nate. Really made me stop and think. Our heads are so full of stuff, sometimes we forget what it is all about. Thank you dear friend.
Absolutely, Phyllis! We tend to get so busy that we overlook the truly significant and urgent. Eternity is coming – “gold, silver, precious stones”!! Thank you, my friend!