Never had sleeping arrangements been more comical. Only no one was laughing – yet.
“We’ll provide you and your group a comfortable place to sleep,” the church youth event director had promised over the phone.
Chaperone Cindy and Susan plus the nine girls looked around the classroom that would be lodging for the night. Cindy could predict neither the sleeping bags nor the concrete floor would be soft enough.
“How do we turn off these bright lights?” Chaperone Cindy asked a committee member after she flipped a switch and nothing happened. The fluorescent fixtures flooded every nook and cranny with light.
“You can’t. All the classroom lights stay on at the same time.”
“So when God said, ‘Let there be light,’ on the first day of creation, He was thinking of your church!”
“I never thought about it that way.”
“What about the bathrooms?” Cindy wanted to know. The girls clutched their backpacks, sodas, and lip gloss. They needed facilities right away.
“We unlocked them just for you – they’re one floor down across from the elevator.”
While Chaperone Cindy took half of the girls to the bathroom, Chaperone Susan helped the girls set up their sleeping bags. Another group from parts unknown bedded down on the other side of the plastic divider walls. The rising volume of talk, music and laughter set the stage for a great building-wide slumber party. It was exciting news for the girls, but bad news for the chaperones.
Soon after she rolled out her own bag, Susan pulled the top flap over her face. More than sixteen hours earlier, she had dressed, headed to a full day of work, and then traveled with the vanload to its destination.
The full quota of their girls settled in for an all-night party helped along by M & M’s, chaos, clatter, noise, and laughter. At least they were all happy sounds. Susan sleepily wondered if it was the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air that flew overhead – or was it popcorn, candy, and game pieces?
In the morning, Susan awoke refreshed under the bright lights. But Cindy and the girls seemed limp with fatigue. The chaperone roused herself onto an elbow to ask, “How ever did you sleep with the lights and the noise?”
Susan just smiled.
Chaos, clutter and noise seem to dominate minutes of our multi-tasking lives.
But when it comes to building our relationship with God, it’s not about multi-tasking. Prayer is one-on-one communication. Paul advises, “Pray continually” [1 Thessalonians 5:17]. Best case scenario is illustrated in Jesus’ own life.
Just as we do ourselves, the Savior himself needed time alone for rest and refreshment. He chose places where he was alone and could pray. Often, this came before or after major events.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. “[Mark 1:35 NIV] This happened after he healed Simon’s mother-in-law of a feverish illness. News spread quickly. By evening, the residents of the entire town crowded to her door to be well again.
He went off by himself after healing a paralytic lowered through the roof where he was preaching. [Mark 2]. Jesus took to the hills after feeding the large crowd with two fish and five rolls. He needed time alone with God to regroup and to deal with John the Baptist being murdered. [Mark 6] Much art commemorates Jesus’ time to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion. [Mark 14].
In our busy lives, popcorn, candy, and flying M&M’s may be the benchmark–or bane–of our existence. But in seeking God, we must leave chaos and confusion behind. In our private time with God, we get the rest we need – even where the accommodations are comical and the lights are on all night.
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, buttontogod.dev. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]