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  • Writer's pictureJay Lowder

Fight Fire with Fire!

Updated: Apr 18


Light the Fires of Meditative Passion for God!

Part 2

 

 

In the previous post, we considered the burning and hellish thoughts that can harm you as you lie down to sleep, especially if you cannot fall asleep quickly.  In certain seasons, burning lust and burning anger appear as frequent nighttime visitors. You might be missing sleep simply because of them! But there can be more bedtime problems that bedevil you. 

Just as you must turn from consuming lust and overflowing anger to thoughts of God and his word, in the same way, you must smother other forms of burning bed syndrome! So, let us look at two more common sins that might have you smoldering in your bed. Then we will turn to the cure-all solution: Meditation-sparked flames of love and worship toward God - the holy fire that beats back sinful desires and redirects our heart passions toward God.


Burning Worry

Reviewing the day behind you and previewing the day ahead is safe as long as it is done by faith. Are you able to recline in your bed, relaxing and releasing the day's successes and struggles to the Lord? Or do your thoughts drift into lonely places, forgetting God’s presence during painful recent moments? Do we forget God’s promised omnipresence in the trouble of tomorrow?  Here, we must meditate! For whatever reason, you are lying there awake. Act now!


You must fight against worry with its mortal enemy, biblical meditation. You are God’s child, So turn on the light, sit up, read the Bible aloud to your worried self, perhaps your favorite passages, and meditate on God and his glory. Worry can consume you, but you can “redeem” it if you use it to spark meditation. Can you imagine how much better it is to ignite a spiritual fire that gives you peace tonight and hope tomorrow? You will rest and sleep, recommitted to the hands of the Lord. 

Stacey Roach, who struggles with insomnia, points this way forward, asking: "But what if God shows his love for us not only through the gift of sleep but through the gift of sleeplessness? Might he use sleepless nights to draw us closer to himself?"1  If you meditate, your heart will be hot for God.  Charles Orr wrote that for those who meditate, "there will be a holy flame enkindled in your soul and such heavenly sweetness and peace that the cares of this life, and fret and worry will no more light on you than flies on a heated furnace.”2

 



Burning Vanity

  

Though related to lust, anger, and worry, vain thinking misleads us into thinking about things that will burn up. What a terribly broad category! You need not go to bed thinking specific evil thoughts to mess up your nighttime. You only need to “let go and let” godlessness creep in. It is unavoidable that we live in a world full of vain, worthless ideas, conversations, goals, and entertainment. But watching over your heart (Proverbs 4:23) means that you minimize your daytime and nighttime exposure to such worthless things.

Will most of what you are thinking of remain after the Second Coming of Christ and pass through the fire of judgment (2 Peter 3:10-11)? That clever line from the sitcom, that story from a captivating book, the funny cat video, or the news of the day delivered to you in any form will not! The best fire-suppression protection for burning bed syndrome is godly meditation that displaces and replaces vain meditation.


End the Day with “Better” Thoughts


You cannot shut off your mind! As long as you are awake, it is churning along, thinking, usually mostly about recent experiences and images. So, why would any believer choose to end their day thinking about worldly and negative topics and images? Paul's list of what we should be thinking about is particularly relevant in the evening hours: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Philippians 4:8).

Be careful about what you think about! At best, ending your day with worldly thoughts will be wasting precious time you should redeem, but at worst, your evening patterns of entertainment and other endeavors are piling up the kindling for setting your bed on fire with more serious sins! For example, even if you average less than most people and only watch 2 hours of television per day, who can truly watch that many of the world's thoughts, images, and plot lines without inflaming godless passions within? Or if you watch or read an hour of news headlines, how can that help you trust God more and have a refreshing sleep?

Instead, think about things that are good and wholesome. These could be a carefully curated book or show, family conversations, or artistic endeavors.


God gives almost limitless options as long as the effect is filling your mind up with good things. Reading and learning about God’s created world and creatures is an example of something edifying and positive: Solomon could think and even write about the great creations of God: “He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish” (1 Kings 4:33).


End the Day with “Godly” Thoughts!


As you plan better things to do and engage in during the evening, know that the best of the best is devotional time with the Lord. Though most believers will choose the morning for their devotional time of Bible reading, meditation, and prayer, there is great wisdom in spending some quality time with God in the evening. That might be as simple as reading a deeper Christian book at night or meditating over a verse that you wrote down in the morning. Or sing a biblical, God-honoring hymn or praise chorus to God – in private!


How much time should you give to devotions over other forms of evening entertainment? Let the Holy Spirit give you a personalized holy plan. Perhaps you should "tithe" your evening time. If you have enough time to watch an hour of morally positive entertainment, then give the Lord six minutes of Bible reading and prayer.  Those six minutes are enough time to read small books of the Bible like Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, John 3, John, or Jude.3 Or you could count your blessings up and praise God for them.


Even better would be to drift off to sleep reciting a Bible verse to yourself! Dr. Donald Barnhouse describes this joyous experience: “Then I learned that I must not merely go to sleep thinking about Christ, but that I must go to sleep in communion with Him. I began memorizing verses of Scripture at night and reciting them as I fell asleep . . . Soon, He became more real than the inside of my eyelids. I could not see them though they were close to my eyes . . . And closing one’s eyes with Christ takes away all fear of sleepless nights.”4 A dearest friend struggling with the fear of death through the terrible effects of cancer treatment described reciting Bible verses as providential deep lullabies for all-night comfort.


Rise in grace and rest in grace by practicing the means of grace in the morning and the evening. Devotion should be both “the morning star and the evening star."5 You will rise from your bed refreshed, for “your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24) instead of having the stench of a burning bed attached to you! Then, we can better be “the aroma of Christ” to others (2 Corinthians 2:15) as we await our entrance into the “Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9)!  





Here is a helpful, related article cited in the article. Read all of it!


1Stacey Reaoch, "When God Withholds Sleep: How to Handle Restless Nights, Desiring God, 23 Jul., 2020, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-god-withholds-sleep. If you struggle with insomnia, you are truly suffering. Consult a physician in addition to seeking to meditate. God made us soul AND body.

2Charles E Orr, Helps to Holy Living (Guthrie, OK: Faith Publishing House, 2016), 5.

3Change Faulkner, "How Long Does It Really Take to Read the Bible?" Gospel Coalition, Canadian Edition, Nov. 18, 2018. https://ca.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-long-does-it-really-take-to-read-the-bible/#:

4Donald Barnhouse, Life by the Son (Revelation Publications, 1939), 60-2.

5C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 1-26, vol. 1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 1-26, vol. 1. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2021), 46.

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