Friday, September 5, 2008

The midnight hour

I used to call 3am an ungodly hour. After my partying days were done, I didn't see the point in staying up past 9:30pm (you think I jest, but I was serious-I am Lois' daughter). Lately, 3am doesn't seem so ungodly. Fred Hammond sings, and I have experienced, "Late in the midnight hour, God's gonna turn it around, it's gonna work in your favor..."  In the last year or so I have used this particular hour as more than just a time to scurry to the bathroom without waking myself up in the process. In fact, this time has become sacred–a Divine appointment, if you will. 

Theologically, there are examples of people who are called blessed because they arise early to begin their day. I'm thinking specifically about the woman of Proverbs 31, described by King Lemuel's mother as the perfect wife for her son. Admittedly, when I wake at 3am, my hope is always that I will return to sleep, even if only for  few minutes, before having to really start the day.  So in my case, I am drawn to the story of Samuel as recorded in the third chapter of 1 Samuel. Samuel was a young man serving in Eli's house. One night he was in a deep sleep and he heard someone call his name. He scurried to Eli's room twice (I imagine him with eyes closed, feeling the walls, trying to avoid being fully awakened) only to find that it was not Eli calling him. Eli instructs him to reply directly to God. In obedience, when Samuel heard the voice again, he replied, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” That night, God did indeed speak to Samuel. 

So, what to I do when I hear the voice of God calling me in the middle of the night. I used to toss and turn until I fell back asleep, but now, like Samuel, I say, "Speak for your servant hears." How do I do this, you ask? 

I pray at 3am,
I meditate at 3am,
I read my Bible at 3am,
I write in my journal at 3am,
I finish homework at 3am,
and, today, I blog at 3am.

I wish I could tell you that this morning I am having some super spiritual experience. I did pray when I got up, but then I was just up. Truth is, I didn't even make it to 9:30 last night. My head hit my pillow at about 8:03 and I was sleep by 8:08. It was a long day in a long first week back to school. I must add, however, that albeit long, it was a GREAT first week back to school. I enjoyed catching up with friends, worshipping in chapel, meeting new people (including a line-up of amazing professors), and getting back to work. This semester is going to be as challenging as the first, but in different ways. Last year, I learned to read again. Let me rephrase: I learned to critically and carefully read again. This year is more about reading myself and my experiences to see how they shape who I am (and who I will be) in ministry. This year holds the same level of academic rigor coupled with practical experience and reflection. I am taking 5 classes (Baptist Polity, Church at Worship:Liturgy, Supervised Ministry, Religion and the Social Process, and God Talk with Black Thinkers: W.E.B. DuBois).

So, as I prepare to go back to sleep, my question for you to ponder (or leave a comment, hint, hint) is: what do you do when you wake up in the midnight hour? 

(image taken from


  1. Oh yes, the 3 a.m. wake up call. Sometimes it happens because, like you the other evening, I fall asleep way too early, and rise after 6 or 7 solid hours of sleep. And too often it happens because of that spicy dinner (which I am now no longer going to eat past 5:00 if I want it to be spicy!) or due to insufficient exercise during the day or due to simply being older (though I really don't think I'm at that age when being older means not needing as much sleep!)

    My computer beckons on those mornings. Email, drafts for my blog, reading blogs written by my friends. But if I'm only kind of awake, then it's a spoonful of Stoneyfield French Vanilla yogurt or a chocolate chip cookie (though we don't really keep those around anymore), or if it's winter then a cup of milk warmed in the microwave, and then as quietly and calmly as possible tip toeing back to bed.

    May your semester be challenging and interesting, and may your 3 a.m. wake ups be manageable!


  2. Thank you for speaking the words of my heart. We discussed learning to read again last year. But, I equally appreciate your frame on this coming year. Such a perfect description.