Scorched: A War of Two Wicks
by Shauna Wallace
My candle will no longer burn at both ends, no matter how much I push it. Perhaps age has something to do with it. There was a time when I could string together endless nights of five and six hours of sleep to no significant consequence (or so I reasoned). Drink a little extra coffee, push a little harder and keep on ticking. The pile on my plate and being married to a man with an opposite body clock puts me in a war between two wicks: James’ night wick and my morning one.
In order to enjoy time with James at night and take advantage of my favorite early hours of the day, I can easily find myself a slave to both circadian rhythms, getting up early and staying up late, squeezing out precious chunks of slumber in the process.
The problem is…
I can’t do it for more than one 24-hour period anymore. My body stages a protest, and I don’t have the energy to fight it! Yet, I still struggle with what to give up. How to make it all work.
Maybe the whole point is that I’m not supposed to make it all work.
Psalm 127:1-2 is one of my favorite verses:
Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.
Here’s what it means:
Unless what you’re building or doing is of God, then your efforts will be hard, exhausting, slow and ultimately empty and worthless. Unless God is the One in charge and on guard, the one in charge and on guard stays alert to a pointless, meaningless end. Therefore, it is useless to make an early start and delay sleep, to toil and suffer hardship! Let the Lord build. Let the Lord guard. Let the Lord give you sleep.
The Lord reminds me often: “Shauna, if you are getting up early and staying up late, sacrificing sleep in the process, the things you are doing are not of Me. If it is of Me, you will have plenty of time during the day to do what is required for my purpose, and you will have plenty of time for sleep.”
If I pursue my own agenda, to-do list, pleasures and the like, it’s going to be hard. I’m going to experience emptiness at the end of my exhausting days. There are times when an extra push might be needed or a sacrifice required, but as a rule, when I am about His business and allowing God to guard over the things and people in my life, I can then spend my time on what He desires for me, and that will include plenty of rest.
Using this scripture, I can evaluate my days and the things on which I spend my time, the things that get me up early and keep me up late, through new lenses – truth lenses. If I need to get up early in the morning, staying up late to watch TV is not God’s work for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with enjoying some check-out time with my husband at the end of the day. But giving up sleep for it isn’t God’s wisest and best choice for me. When spending time on Pinterest or Facebook or otherwise wasting time on the internet interferes with what my family needs from me, it’s probably not God’s wisest and best choice for me. Exercising at 7:30 p.m. in order to satisfy a compulsion for an adrenalin high, thereby pushing dinner to 9 p.m., is likely not God’s wisest and best for me. Making poor choices during the day and having to spend my evening hours on my “musts” instead of with my family is probably not God’s wisest and best for me. Operating from a place of exhaustion, irritability and glass-half-empty is probably not God’s wisest and best for me.
I see this struggle in one of my kids – driven, achievement-oriented, quick to take on one too many things and slow to let anything go. Worn out and exhausted, this child appears to be on a last leg and doesn’t know how to get off the wheel. As God shows me the err of my ways and the answer of His word, He is giving me opportunity in the midst of the lesson to learn alongside my kid. I find myself baring my struggles before them so they can see we wrestle with the same things, bringing me face-to-face with the fact that so much of what our kids learn from us doesn’t enter through their ears but their eyes.
Jesus says in Matthew 11:30, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” This verse is a good litmus test. If my efforts are hard, exhausting, slow and difficult, if I’m feeling empty and worthless, and I’m deceiving myself in order to justify what I’m doing, then perhaps my labor is not of God.
God’s work can be exhausting, but there’s peace, confidence, rest and restoration in the midst of it.
Let’s build His house. Let Him guard over it. And enjoy sleep as His beloved.