Thursday, 9 August 2018

For The Late Night Worrier: The Theology of Sleep

According to Statistics Canada there are approximately 3.3 million Canadians who battle insomnia. I am one of them. There have been times when my insomnia was brought about by chemical deficiency, but if I’m really being honest, I would say the majority of my sleeping problems are caused by stress. I am a Midnight Worrier. 

There is something about that moment when my head hits the pillow that causes my brain to wake up. I begin to unravel the day, and yesterday, and tomorrow, and 10 years ago, and 10 years into the future. Like a hamster in a squeaky wheel, my mind begins to race. 

What is it that keeps me going all. night. long? Like lingering question marks when I wanted a period, they are the unsolved problems of the hour/day/week. The questions I either could not solve, or did not have time to solve. And the deeper into the dark of night I go, the larger the question marks become, dancing around my head.

And then, with the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit, I hear, “he makes me lie down in green pastures.” (Ps 23:1b) He is calling me to sleep. God knows. He knows the answers to my unknowns, because He is the all-knowing. My circumstances are real. My trials are real. My conflicts are real. But, they are not mine to hold, not for the 8 hours I ought be sleeping for, nor for the 16 hours that follow. He did not call me into midnight turmoil, he called me to the quietness of his side. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Ps 127:2)

When God made us he purposefully did not make us to be able to function without sleep. He knew we would need sleep because he made us to need it. It was not an arbitrary purpose either, he had a plan right from day one. 

The very first day of creation, God made light and dark, and separated the two. He began by making rhythm and pattern, not for his benefit, but for ours. He knew once humans were made we would need the peace of the darkness of night to reset. A time set aside each day where we shut down and shut off and be human, not gods.

“God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” (Gen 1:5)

He continued until day 7 when God himself rests. 

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Gen 2:3)

He did not do this because HE needed rest, but one of the many implications of this is that God again set a pattern for us to follow. If God took time to stop creating, and we are not above God, then we certainly need to have moments to stop “doing”, and that includes quieting our obnoxiously loud thoughts.  

Laying down and resting is an act of submission that we are not miniature gods. Sleep requires us to acknowledge that whatever weighty thoughts or activities we are trying to solve are not ours to carry. We are the sheep, he is the Shepherd. “He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Ps 121:3) He holds your circumstances, your deadlines, your relationships, your kids, your marriage, your health, and your future 24 hours a day 7 days a week. All of it is firmly in his hands. In full surrender that the faithful God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow is firmly in control we can lay down in green pastures and rest. 

It may feel like we are finishing with lingering question marks, but know that God, who writes your story, places the finality of periods where he sees fit. He knows perfectly what is to come, and when the sun goes down, it is time for you to rest while He continues to unfold his plans. 

Tonight, as you go to lay down, imagine for a moment that your bed is the mighty hands of God. Fall into them and know that, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day”. (Ps 91:4-5)


photo credit: Annie Spratt @ Unsplash

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

How Much Faith do I Need to be Healed?

“If he just had a little more faith I know he would be healed!”

She had great concern for her friend and his current health crisis, and she wasn’t the first one to lament the seemingly lack of faith in a loved one. 

“How much faith does one need to be healed?”, I asked. Her puzzled look told me she had not thought about that yet. So I went on, and it sounded something like this...

The Bible tells us that “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.” (Matthew 17:20b) Surely if such a minuscule amount of faith can move mountains it would be more than enough for anyone to be healed. 

But, just how much faith is a mustard seed faith? 

Mustard seed faith is the tiniest seed of a new found faith in God. It is the first utterance of a declaration that God is real and Jesus is your personal Saviour. It is the admittance that you believe in and belong to God’s family.

Her friend indeed was a child of God and had been for many years. We established he certainly had at least mustard seed-sized faith even if he had never grown in faith since he first prayed for God to be part of his life.

The problem with this notion that if we just had more faith all things would work out is that it is a self-defeating statement. It puts pressure on ourselves to rummage up enough faith to make things happen, and when they don’t we feel we have failed God. So we try other routes: more prayers, more good deeds, more tithing, more reading our Bibles...all great things...but when the desired outcome does not come we grow deeply discouraged. And not that moody-blue "I'm-having-a-bad-day" type of discouragement. We are talking about deep dissatisfaction to the core of our souls. We want to give up and question if God is even listening, or moreso, if he even exists. 

I had my friend open to the book of Job and read the very first verse: 

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. (Job 1:1 emphasis my own)

Blameless, upright, God-fearing, and he turned away from evil. This is a man of exemplary faith!  We could most certainly say that Job at least had faith the size of a mustard seed. Oddly enough, it did not keep Job in good health. In fact, this wealthy land owner was not only struck down in his own health, but experienced the death of his children, and the loss of his livelihood. It left Job wondering "why me?". A question we too often face when confronted with the painfully unexpected trials of life that seem to come wave upon wave.

While I can’t answer why, I do know this...

The only faith you need to have is enough faith to trust God has a plan even when the mountain does not move. Sometimes He needs us to faithfully start climbing instead of asking him to flatten the steep incline in front of us. 

Do not believe for one second that your future health and healing depend on you and your ability to muster up faith. You simply do not hold that kind of power. The hands that set the earth on its foundation are holding you as you go along no matter how grim it may appear in this moment. Maybe you will be healed, maybe not. The guarantee we long for does not exist this side of Heaven anyway. Our guarantee is the promise of eternal life through Jesus. With eyes fixed on eternity it makes any climb worth it. 


photo credit: Markus Spiske @

Monday, 2 July 2018

[GUEST POST] Worshipping God Where You Least Expect It

A few weeks ago I asked my friend Janet to share her story on what she has learned about the heart of worship. Janet has worshipped God in places you would not ordinarily think to sing his praises. Below is her story in her own words about seeking and praising God at all times, in all settings. 

Should our surrounding or circumstances effect worship? Can church be anywhere that we are, or does it need to be inside an actual church building?  

I had an opportunity to go to Guatemala last year. While I was there I had the privilege to join in with a few small groups, school chapels, a community outreach, hospital visits, and a Sunday morning church service. Their worship and church is drastically different than here at home. They approach worship with an excited attitude of, “I get to worship the Lord”. When they were worshipping God, their whole hearts were in it. You could tell they were not thinking about the days events or what was going to be happening later that night. No one was worried about the size of the building we were in, or if the roof would keep all the rain out. Everyone was thankful to be there and squeezed closer together to make room for any new friends who may join in.

Worship is not meant to be complicated, it is a state of heart. 

I know this is a big statement; there are times that I feel consumed by my circumstance and a heart of worship does not always come easily.  When I am being peppered by questions and requests from my kids, or I am knee deep in homework, laundry, and other tasks that life throws at us, it can be easy to feel dragged down. However, when I stop and take a moment to focus on God and his goodness it changes my perspective on the events of the day, and lightens the heaviness of the situation.  

God is willing to meet us wherever we are at, eager to love us in that moment. God only wants good for us, when we are hurting God is hurting too.  I know that for me on a Sunday morning when we are trying to get our family out the door on time it can feel like an uphill battle.  I have to stop and give thanks for the opportunity to go to church with my family.  In the past when I neglected to take the time to refocus on God or the reason we were going to church I would find myself half heartedly joining in. My mind would be thinking about the craziness of the morning and the things that need to be done later that day.

I feel like the church can be anywhere that we gather and enjoy God’s presence, and share his love with others. I got to see this while in Guatemala. We hosted an outreach in a grassy field at a remote village where we worshipped God in a sink hole that is primary used for witchcraft.  

I have recently had the opportunity to join a team of ladies serving in an outreach ministry with the Salvation Army for women working the streets. We get together and make lunches and stock the Salvation Army’s van with a variety of things the ladies may be in need of and head out on a Thursday night. The van is known to the ladies as a safe place, so they wave us down. When we stop for theses ladies they are thankful to be greeted with a kind smile as they get on the van with us.  Most of the ladies that I had an opportunity to meet were happy to list their prayer requests when I asked them if I could pray for them. They were very thankful for the kindness we showed them with our prayers and the items we gave them. Being part of this team has given me new opportunities to connect with God.  Before going out we spend time in prayer, asking for boldness when speaking with these ladies, and safety.  God totally show up! I felt comfortable and safe all night, he blessed me with words (praying out loud with strangers is a bit outside my comfort zone), and a thankful heart for the opportunity.  

I think when we serve others God can use these small moments to have big effects in the lives of the people being served and the ones doing the serving. When we are feeling overwhelmed by our surrounding we need to choose to speak life, our words are so powerful.  

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  (Proverbs 18:21) 

It can be easy to speak death and list off the things that seem to be going wrong or the stuff we do not have. By focusing on the negative we are killing our hope.  We need to take time to give thanks even if it feels like it is something minuscule, the more we give thanks the easier it will become to spot the good things in our lives.  

The love of God is fiercer than we will ever have the capacity to understand this side of eternity. I think we can be the church and worship God anywhere we are. God hears our praise and cries no matter if we are in a deep dark pit or in a beautiful church. I encourage you to worship God wherever it feels comfortable to you.


In response to Janet's encouragement to praise God in all circumstances, leave a message and let us know a time you found yourself worshipping God in a strange place or time in your life. 

Friday, 29 June 2018

An Update on The Backyard Missionary and Where It's Going Next

It has been almost a year since I began this little blog, and I have written on anything and everything that has been brewing in my heart to share. I knew eventually God would reveal more specifics of what he wanted me to write about. While the blog has been pretty quiet as of late, offline I have been busy seeking God’s direction and finally have some peace and direction for the next season of writing. 

Time and time again I find myself sitting in the dark valleys of life. After a long conversation with my psychologist (or perhaps many sessions as the case may be... seriously...everyone needs a good therapist). I have learned that I am unafraid to walk into the middle of the pain that lays at the bottom of the pit. I have also come to learn that no matter how deep the pit is, God, in all his rich wisdom, is still in the deepest, darkest hole, waiting to impart wisdom and strength on us. I always come out stronger than when I went in. In many ways, I have finally understood the joy James talks about that is found in the trials of life. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Though I don’t enjoy the trial while I’m in it, I am grateful for those opportunities to be stretched and learn along the way. I have learned of God’s goodness and faithfulness, and in all circumstances I sing his praises. 

One thing I have noticed as I have sat in the valley of trials, is that we will ALL sit in the hardship of life at some point or another. In spite of this, we continue walk through life with a synthetic smile plastered on, and a quick “I’m good!” when asked how our week was. 

My goal going forward is to wade into those moments when our hearts are hurt, confused, or wrestling. I want to go to those places that make us most uncomfortable (those places we cover with smiles) to bring you God’s light in the darkness. Sometimes that means bringing hope that God is good and faithful even when it appears otherwise. Sometimes, that will look like an honest heart-felt lament. Whatever it is, I hope you know you are not alone!

As such, the site will be under construction for awhile so I can update it and get the next few posts lined up and ready to share. We will kick it off with a guest post from a friend and her journey on worshipping God in some of the physically darkest places! I cannot wait to share her story with you!!

If your heart is calling to question the things you see around you, or the trials you are facing, I would encourage you to subscribe to the blog,  or check back in soon to receive some encouragement.

See you soon.


photo credit: Jacub Gomez from Pexels