The Best Kind of Tranqulizer

man with insomnia

Stress, turmoil, anxiety, worry, tension, uncertainty, pressures, hassles, revenge, lawsuits, bankruptcy, crime, assault, disease, accidents, anger, tragedy, violence, suffering—the list goes on and on. At various times, there will be upsets in our life that will leave us sleepless. It might be a major ordeal or maybe just a minor event. Whether we are young or old, married or single, rich or poor, weak or strong—something will bring us to a point of being disturbed and restless. Even if we are extra cautious, watching our every thought and move, a situation is sure to come our way that will not let us sleep in peace. There will be times when we are totally innocent, minding our own business and doing what is right, and we still end up in the wrong. We might find ourselves in error over something that we had no control over, or we might happen to be in the wrong place at the right time.

It may feel like we are the only ones going though a particular problem. There was a man who lived thousands of years before us who had to struggle like this as well. In the Bible, King David of Israel was a person whom God declared to be a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22b). David was a mighty man who killed a lion and a bear at the same time when he was rescuing a lamb from the mouth of a bear. Later, with only a stone and a slingshot, he slayed a giant that had been threatening his nation for quite some time. And all of this occurred when he was only a young man! He later killed tens of thousands of enemies of his kingdom, yet, in spite of all his strength and his favor with God, he still went though struggles that would keep any of us today agonizingly awake for a multitude of nights.

What did he ultimately do about his troubles that robbed him of sleep? Did he flee, never to be found again? Was he discovered attempting to take his own life? Did he give up and just surrender to the enemy? Did he go insane? Did he personally take vengeance on those who were against him? Did he relegate his problems and torments to someone else in his kingdom and order them to come up with a solution? No, he did none of these. Instead, he turned to God. Look at what he said in verses three through five of the fourth Psalm, “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.” King David knew by past experience that God would hear him when he called out to Him. But he also knew that he could not continue in the path of sin and still expect God to readily hear him. He had to surrender to God, forsake his sin, and put his trust in the Lord—then wait on Him. He knew that God would provide for His circumstances in a way far greater than those who were against him.

So what happened? Verse eight sums it up nicely: I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” He didn’t lie awake all night agonizing over everything that was coming against him. Instead he declared, “…thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” What better sleep aid could anyone ask for? David turned to the Lord and put his trust in Him. He did not pursue the matter in his own strength any further. David stated this again in the first two verses of Psalm twenty three: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.”Still waters” here literally means ‘waters of rest.’

young girl praying

What a wonderful antidote to the situations that torment us throughout the night! All that we have to do is come before the Lord with all our distress and release it to Him. We need to stop sinning through doubt and unbelief, and trust in Him to resolve the conflict. He continually waits for our most feeble cry. He wants us to lie down in peace and sleep. But without God, we will never “dwell in safety.” He told us to “…commune with your own heart upon your bed…” With our own heart we are to commune with whom—our spouse, our relatives, our neighbor, our closest friends? Of course not! We are to commune with the Lord. Next comes “and be still.” Don’t drop your problems in His lap and go on your way. Spend your time with Him in intimate fellowship, reading His Word, and then—just be still. Don’t fill your mind with all kinds of trivial nonsense and needless thoughts, just “be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10a). God never wants us to lie awake and be restless, our hearts and minds filled with worry or stress. Let’s open our hearts freely to Him like a child does and let Him lead us by the waters of rest. With the Lord in charge of our life, we can truly sleep in peace—for He alone is the best kind of tranquilizer.

The Breath of God

entrance to old mine

Curiosity and zeal for adventure provoked a small band of teenagers to succumb to the urge to explore an old mine they knew about on the side of a large mountain. The mine had once been the center of much activity, but when the quantities of ore began to dwindle, so did interest in pursuing it any further. Many past reports had told how huge the mine had become over the years, having branched off into many tunnels that sprawled over several miles. This proved to be the lure that these young teenagers could not resist. Their plan was to get into the mine somehow, and then go only a short distance, just to see what it was like. Before they realized it, they ended up traveling further and further away from the main air shaft where they had so carefully come in.

After about three hours of climbing throughout vast stretches of the mine, the group encountered a junction where the tunnel they were hiking in forked into three more tunnels. They were wary of splitting up, unsure about what they might encounter ahead. So they finally decided to remain together and take the tunnel they thought might lead them back toward the entrance. By this time, they were getting hungry and growing tired from all of their exploring in such a huge place.

partially lit cave
unsplash-logoMatt Kochar

Step after step after step, they trudged on. They had started with one flashlight each, but now had only two left between all of them that still worked. One of the units had reached the dimmest point since they began, and they had already used up all their spare batteries. Then the other light was dropped accidentally when they almost fell off of a small cliff. Now the tunnel they were in seemed to wind on endlessly, with no exit in sight. After another hour of wandering, the lone flashlight finally quit shining, leaving them in utter darkness. All hope of escape began to fade away. Weary from all their wandering, one by one they slumped down onto the floor of the mine. One girl began to tremble and sob almost uncontrollably, succumbing to the fear that she would never to be found again and would die there. Two others tried to hold her and console her. The oldest boy began to question himself out loud, wondering why they had ever dared to go this far in the first place. Another boy began angrily throwing various sized stones and rubble at the walls and down the tunnel in frustration.

Then the girl who had been consoling the sobbing girl remembered something she had heard her grandfather once say. He had worked briefly as a coal miner decades before. In one of the many stories of his life, he mentioned that if he ever got lost in the mine, or if his light quit working, he knew that he should stop and remain very still. Then he would try to feel what direction the air was moving, since the air always moved upward toward the air shaft, and ultimately, the way out. Although the others were skeptical when they first heard this, one by one they began to just sit still and wait. They continued to wait and wait for some time in hopeful anticipation, not really knowing what to expect. Then one of them suddenly jumped onto his feet and shouted, “I felt it! I felt it!” Moments later another burst out, “Me, too! I felt it on the side of my face!” Then another and another said the same, until all of the teens had sensed the gentle waft of air.

They determined that the air was actually coming from the direction that they had thought would bring them to the way out. So they turned around and began to walk in the opposite direction, heading back where they had come from. Even though they had lost the main source of light, they were still able to slowly find their way, guided by the gentle glow of their cellphones and other assorted small electronic devices they had in their pockets. Whenever they became unsure of their way, they would stop and wait again until they felt the ever-so-gentle movement of air, and then continue in its direction. Finally, they arrived back at the air shaft and scrambled up out of the mine, back to the remaining light of day.

people leaving mine

In life, there will be many points where you will also find yourself in the darkness and lost at times, with no apparent way out. It might be that your source of light has gone out, and you are not able to find the rest of the way to go. You may have been wandering and your light has not yet gone out, but you don’t know what direction to take next. Your life may have been progressing just fine, and then suddenly, everything goes into confusion and you do not have a clue as to what to do. Does any of this apply to you? Don’t fall apart in despair. Don’t succumb to a fit of needless anger, or collapse into a pool of tears.

It is in times like these that a gentle and sweet breath from God will come to you. Sometimes it is so subtle and discreet that you hardly notice it is there. Most often, there will be a time of sitting still and waiting before you sense its presence. When you do, make sure you don’t ignore it and turn to follow your own way. Don’t feel that it is too insignificant to be of any value. Instead, yield yourself to God and be led by it. He wants to bring you out of the darkness and confusion that you are in, but it takes desire and effort on your part for the breakthrough to happen. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). The Lord wants you to stop trusting in what you think is the best way out, and to learn to lean on Him for guidance. While it may seem contrary to you, by doing so you will find yourself being led out of your hopeless dilemma into “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). Even though you don’t see Him, God is always there with you. “Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name” (Psalm 33:20,21).

Tempted and Tried

sunset

“Jesus said unto him, It is written again…You shall not tempt the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 6:16; Matthew 4:7).

What does it mean to “tempt” God? It refers to testing His strength, goodness, value, and truth, or to put Him to the proof to see if what He says is true. It means that we are not to intentionally enter into danger that only the power of God can rescue us from, in order to force Him to come to our aid and rescue us. It can also mean trying Him to see if He really exists. Will He actually come through for us when we really need Him to?

Do we really think that we are strong enough on our own to take it upon ourselves to dare the devil to tempt us, because we feel that we can win against him? Then we imply that we don’t need God to help us. We are purposely stirring God up—not to rescue us—but to leave us to our own devices, since we are so sure we know what we are doing.

And just because God has given certain people great privileges, these alone do not protect or exempt them from being tempted (tested, tried) also. Jesus Himself was put into a situation where He would be tried by the devil. His faith proved to be perfect and determined.

There was not even one thing He was willing to do to put the goodness of God to the test. Why? Because He was already positively confident that God is good. He didn’t need any proof of it at all. He already had all the proof He would ever need of the truthfulness and power of God.

Many people are tempted when they long after or chase their own strong hopes and desires. But Jesus did not have a fallen nature like the children of Adam, so He had no evil hopes or desires beckoning Him to pursue them. This is why the devil was the only one who could be used to tempt Him. All the temptations the devil threw at Him were for one primary purpose. He wanted to get Jesus to wonder if He could trust His heavenly Father in all things, at all times. He wanted to bring Jesus to the point where He would do something to sin against His heavenly Father.

When the devil tempted Him, Jesus did not plead His case against him, or even engage in a discussion with him. He simply replied “It is written” (in the Scriptures/Bible) and quoted the appropriate passage to him. The Devil can use the word of God too, and be very artful and clever about it. But when he uses it, he twists and turns it to fit what he wants to say, or to try to produce the outcome he is looking for. How very crafty he is, as he confronts and very boldly defies God.

But He can be successfully opposed, as Jesus has already proven for our sake. Jesus was successful when He encountered temptation because He met it head on with the proper weapon—the Word of God used in the proper way. How comforting it is to us therefore to know when we are tempted if we do not yield and no longer have ungodly lusts for the devil to appeal to. Then we are not so much tempted as we are tried.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Jesus learned by personal experience what it meant to suffer being tempted. This way, He was also able to learn what it was like to receive support from God the Father and to be delivered from His distress. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor [bring relief to] them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Since Jesus has already gone through temptation and successfully resisted it, we can be confident that we can also go through it and be successful too when we follow His example. He will be right there with us to bring assistance, and to relieve and deliver us from every difficulty, every need, every distress.

What can we learn from all this? We need to go to God for help when our need is oppressing, and nowhere else. We need to counter the devil with the Word of God, not our own pitiful ideas and arguments and experiences. We can be confident that our heavenly Father will provide for our need, just as He did for Jesus. Why should we presume? Why should we despair? He is right there to meet our every need and rescue us from every temptation!

Exit Signs

overhead exit sign

Have you ever thought about the “EXIT” signs that many buildings have placed inside rooms over the doors that lead out of the building? On the ones I’ve seen, the word EXIT is most often in red letters, lit from behind. They are readily recognizable this way, and we’ll be able to find them easily in an emergency. Then we’ll know how to find our way out—especially if the lights go out and the room is in darkness. A room may have other doors without these signs, but not all of them necessarily lead outside where we will be safe. Some could even lead us into a more dangerous area than the one we are already in! It’s easy to get disoriented when everything is dark, when we can’t see which way to go.

An “EXIT” sign reassures us that we will be able to find the way out, no matter how dark the room may be, if we will only make our way over to leave by the door under it.

This world we live in is going more and more into an emergency mode, getting increasingly dark. When Jesus hung on the cross and died, it could be said that He became a ‘living’ exit sign for us. His body, drenched in His own red blood, wasnot an exit sign hung there to show us the way out of the darkness of this world. There are other ‘doors’ that we could try, but Jesus is the only door that leads us out of this world and into the safety of our Heavenly Father’s arms, where no harm can ever reach us. There are many other doors, but none of them can lead us to Heaven. They do not have the right sign over them showing us the way to exit this dark world to safety.

Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” (John 10:9, italics mine). There is only one door to Heaven. That door is Jesus Christ and there is no other.

Jesus also said “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, italics mine). As things get darker and darker in this world, will you be looking for the ‘red’ exit sign so you can find your way out? Be sure you are ready.
For information about finding your way out click here.

–Alana Pangburn