Tuesday, March 3, 2015


(A bit more about MUSIC)

Whatever I am thinking or reading or hearing before drifting off to sleep at bedtime deeply affects how well I rest or how much I toss and turn restlessly. My mental posture filters into my dream cycles. Apparently our minds don't have a pause or stop button but continue running actively all night long. 

If I don't capture my thoughts like with a butterfly net, they will fly about wildly and uncontrollably. That sets me up for worry and anxiety. I fantasize what could happen when I cross the bridge which may not even be there when I get to it. I replay what went wrong in the past and fast forward to what the unknown future may hold. It's my choice but God instructs me: “Set your mind on the things above,” and “Have the mind of Christ,” and “bring every thought into captivity.”

I must be proactive. If I don't program my mind to fill it up in a positive way at bedtime, it will not remain empty. It will be taken over by the debris of the day or the activities of the one who "roams the world seeking the ruin of souls."

Unfortunately, my lifelong habit has been to read myself toward drowsiness, sometimes with light fiction so as not to tax my brain too heavily and prevent the onset of deep, quality sleep. I confess that too often I’ve read far into the night if enticed by a dramatic, page-turner novel. I’ve tried to break that habit and make my last thoughts before going to sleep focus on God, my Provider and Sustainer, and on His words in song or Scripture, which make for a much more “silent night, holy night.”

I’ve heard several versions of the following story. The details vary, but the point of this true story is always consistent. During the bombing of London in World War II, many young children were temporarily sent off to the English countryside to live in safety with rural families until the danger of aerial attacks on the urban areas would pass. Everyone was living in austerity and food was rationed. The children were fretful, nervous, and distraught by separation from their parents and families. Their sleep was filled with nightmares. Although they were provided with food during the daylight hours, they seemed fearful that there might not be anything for them to eat in the morning.

Their surrogate caring families finally found a loving way to alleviate their anxiety. Although the children had eaten before bedtime and their tummies were full, their hosts gave each child a substantial hunk of bread to hold in his hands through the night. Thus the young ones were assured that they would have something in the morning, and if they awakened during the night, being able to touch and taste and smell the extra bread gave them the assurance and comfort they needed.

I have tried to build that analogy into my life. Upon going to bed, I deliberately “hold” a piece of spiritual Bread in my heart and mind in order to “eat” it during the night if I awaken. It comforts and assures me that I will be kept safely through the night with the abundant provision of my Heavenly Father.

Music is the proactive way to fill the void in my mind for its journey through the night. I can actually put into my mental player any mental music CD that I choose! How cool is that? I'm not at the mercy of my untamed thoughts which continue to bombard my mind while I sleep. I have available an entire music library of mental iTunes to call upon. They are in my hymn books or stored in my memory bank. I can download them at will. 

I can program into my mind the lyrics and melody of a Christian hymn silently. I don't even have to hear it audibly. It will "play" endlessly and soothe my spirit and build my faith. Even a simple phrase from some stanza or the refrain is something to sink my spiritual teeth in, to chew on by repeating over and over with my lips or in my mind in silent contemplation.

David the psalmist king and contemporary musician often mentioned how during the day and all through the night he meditated on his bed about God and His goodness. God gave him songs in the night: “I will remember my song in the night. I will meditate with my heart; and my spirit ponders” (Psalm 77:6). That was also the experience of Job in even more ancient days. “...God my Maker, who gives songs in the night” (Job 35:10). David composed his own songs and we are privileged to sing them even today in the Psalter. In fact, we can compose our own songs in the night as we too intimately worship our King.

If we need help, examples from any hymn book are unlimited. A phrase plucked from a hymn will do: “Rejoice, the Lord is King, or “Be still, my soul, the Lord is on your side,” or a stanza from a hymn: “Simply trusting every day, Trusting through a stormy way; Even when my faith is small, Trusting Jesus—that is all,” “Jesus, I adore You, lay my life before You.” Saturating my mind with a sacred song is a shield against the enemy of my soul who seeks entrance to my mind during the night when my guard is down and I am vulnerable to enemy attacks.

I can take my defense in another direction too. That piece of Bread might be a Bible verse I’ve selected from my nightly Scripture readings in a devotional book. It can even be a single word that has become spiritually significant to me. I can select a simple phrase or what I like to call a "flash promise" from God. For instance “Let not your heart be troubled,” or “Forget not all His benefits,” or “Be anxious for nothing.” Perhaps a declaration of faith like "Jesus, I trust in You!" or “Jesus Christ, Lord of my life,” or “I know whom I have believed,” or “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.” And my every night favorite, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening!” Taking one phrase of the Lord's prayer to repeat each night is another savory banquet.

It helps if I choose something that I can mentally repeat in rhythm with my slow night breathing. I can repeat the same phrase over and over to build my faith. This is not “vain repetition” which Jesus condemned as what the pagans do. On the contrary, this nurtures my spirit with the rich and meaningful Words of Life. If I fall asleep at any point, that's a bonus!

As Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” so I ask the Heavenly Father to direct me in choosing just the right piece of nightly bedtime snack to sustain me. Such nourishment truly becomes “Wonder Bread.” And my songs in the night are my midnight snack to comfort me
 until the morning light.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

I could really relate, Leona.