This post brought to you via my inconvenient and really quite obnoxious insomnia.
I can’t sleep, and I have work in just a few hours. While I’m frustrated by the first part of that sentence, I’m blessed by the second. Throughout the end of last year and yet again tomorrow, my former employer has been gracious enough to give me part time catering shifts so I’m not completely unable to pay my car insurance and support my book-buying habit (999, friends. One book to go, and I’m not even 24 yet!).
Whilst in the grip of insomnia, I usually listen to music to distract the parts of my brain that don’t want to shut down and sleep, as evidenced by the fact that 90% of my “most played” songs in my music library are my sleep music. I’m looking at you, Loreena McKennitt.
Sometimes this backfires, though, because a few weeks ago I was listening to “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee” as I attempted to fall asleep. I don’t know if I had never heard the final verse before, or if I’ve just been selectively deaf for my entire life, but that last line slapped me in the face in a not very restful way.
“Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music lifts us sunward
in the triumph song of life.”
Ever since then I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, because I’ve never thought of life as a triumph song. I tend more to think of life as a defeat song, a song of repeating loss and failure, on account of, you know, me not being very good at it.
I mean, I’m incredibly incompetent at finding a permanent full-time job, I’m still camped out at my parents’ house, and I have zero sense of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Meanwhile, in the triumphs column, I’ve got the fact that I can name all the Valar and their primary powers.
So the idea of life as a triumph song is kind of bizarre to me. But only when I’m looking at me. Because the minute I look at Jesus, I can see what Henry J. Van Dyke was talking about. Everything Jesus does is pretty triumphant, such as quite literally triumphing over death.
It’s not even just the words to an excellent hymn. The more I think about it, the more I realize that there’s not a whole lot that makes sense when I look at me, and that looking at Jesus is just an all around better decision.
When I look at me, I see that I don’t have a job and I’m not hearing back on the hundreds of applications I’ve filled out and I’m appallingly nervous in interviews. And then I look at Jesus and I see how He has provided for me unfailingly for my whole life, including this period of unemployment (part-time catering? Total God thing). I look at me and see mistakes and sin and just general can’t-get-it-right, and I look at Jesus and see that He already fought and won that battle for me. I see that the Holy Spirit is here to comfort and instruct, and that I have a hope and a future beyond sin and death because of Jesus’ sacrificial love.
And so if there is any good to be found in insomnia I think it is that occasionally (QUITE FREQUENTLY) I need the extra quiet time for the Holy Spirit to grab my head and very firmly but in total love turn my gaze toward Jesus.
So if it’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions (New Year’s supplications?), mine is to hear life as a triumph song that narrates the glory of God and recites the wonder and goodness of everything that He has done. To fix my eyes on Jesus instead of myself.
Also to get a better sleep schedule.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2