It was my bladder that called my name as the stillness and peace of night surrounded the digital numbers that read 2:54 AM. My response was effortless.
After a few shuffling moments, illuminated by the security light from outside my bathroom and bedroom, I crawled back within the comfortable confines of my bed. At the end of a long, and mostly productive workday of nearly 15 hours, my burning eyes had chased me away from that last necessary keyboard stroke, to publish my blog, with the promise of rest and refreshment.
So far … so good. The unmet demands of the day would have to sit patiently in the waiting room outside. He is not available. Come back in the morning.
But, sleep refused to return.
And the next caller refused to respect the request to wait until morning. He filled my mind with images and sounds of the previous day's unwanted two hour visit to the NGM Farm. I thought all of that unpleasantness was behind me. I had dropped the new farm manager at his house before returning home for a quick bite of dinner. Between bites and clipped conversation with my wife and son, I relayed the disappointing descent from a hope-filled vision and the reality of the way things were at the farm.
Now this unwanted and disrespectful guest was pushing the replay button of those previous couple of hours with the farm manager, the vet, and the farm hand. Resurrecting emotions of frustration and disgust. Suggesting failure and abandonment.
How did we get here?
Early that very morning I had posted a definition of vision on Twitter ... long before the evening sleeplessness brought the temptation of abandonment. “Visionaries are people who have allowed their minds and hearts to wander outside the artificial boundaries imposed by the world as it is.”
Within the secrecy of my imagination I had allowed myself to think that, perhaps, I might just be one of those visionaries. After all, just last week, I had aggressively written my board of directors with my long range plans for working with Next Generation Ministries for the next ten years! That would take my life up to the age of 80! After all ...
As we drove down the red dirt road earlier that very evening, I found myself pouring out the original vision for the farm as the new farm manager and I were on our way to check on a sick calf.
It was a vision that included a model farm in the heart of an undeveloped nation, training young men and women in the art of dairy farming and agriculture, and building a herd of healthy and productive cows that gave so much milk that it not only sustained the farm, but demanded cheese, butter, and ice cream be manufactured and marketed. It was a vision filled with ambition and anticipation. One that would even donate pregnant dairy cows to worthy recipients in an effort to provide them with some capital that could provide income.
I believed so strongly in the vision that I personally purchased the land on which the cows now lived. Generous donors had caught the vision and had invested thousands of dollars to see it come into reality. Short term missionaries had donated resources to working on the farm. And, it developed.
But after so many trusted Africans had violated that trust and stolen so much from the farm … and after wondering if there was any person within Uganda that could be trusted with the farm … or if there was anyone who could actually capture and carry that original vision beyond what could be and should be to would be …
I looked down on the latest casualty. A four month old bull calf lying still on the ground, lifeless, and a symbol of the descending hope I had once had for the farm. As I took a single photo of the dead animal I promised myself I would not request a single dollar from any donor. The financial resources for the farm were depleted. Salaries, feed, medicine, and God only knows what else had drained what had been donated just to keep the farm in survival mode. I would NOT ask for any more money from America.
Now the details of that unwelcomed incident of the night before was being replayed in my mind. Rousing emotions that would prohibit sleep. Every attempt to push the stop button failed and soon I was out of bed, out of the bedroom, and sitting in the dark of the living room.
Back in America Kobe Bryant had played his last professional basketball game scoring 60 points. The Golden State Warriors had become the first 73-win team in NBA history breaking the Chicago Bulls mark of 72-10 set in 1995-96. Stephan Curry scored 46 points and made over 400 3-pointers for the season. I felt so far away from what was a familiar and enjoyable life.
Kobe Bryant had replied in an interview that “God is not going to give you anymore than you can handle.” He understands there are things that he can control and things that he can’t. So, according to him, he will let go of what he can’t control, move on when he can and trust “God will carry me the rest of the way.”
This basketball player is right when he says that God will not give me more than I can handle. It says so ... right there in the Bible (1 Corinthians 10:13). But the stunning challenge is that I can handle more than I think I can! (Ephesians 3:20-21) In His own words Jesus had informed me that apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5). But WITH Him I can do all things (Philippians 4:13). My God is the God of the impossible.
The thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy loves to see me get on the wrong side of the yoke. I was feeling weak ... defeated ... hopeless ... fatigued ... resentful. Jesus promised me that if I would take HIS yoke on, it would be easy and light.
What I discovered from my sleepless night is that the relentless enemy of my soul wanted to rob me of sleep and encourage me to take on responsibility that was actually God’s.
But, at the same time, I discovered that all of the stress and worry of the sad condition of the farm was, more importantly, stealing intimacy with the Father. God was not wringing his hands over untrustworthy employees or the sad state of affairs on the farm. He only desired my attention and affection. And, to prove it, He had been up all night waiting to talk with me!
“My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth! He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:2-3)