I often wake up at 2am now.  This is a new version of insomnia for me.  I’ve had trouble going to sleep for as long as I can remember.  But once asleep, I was able to stay asleep.  This morning I was awake at 2:15.

I learned long ago that insomnia doesn’t have to be the worst thing that happens.  I’ve read hundreds of interesting books.  I finished my degree, gotten my masters and written four books. (Okay, I’ve written 11 books, but you only count the ones published.)  I seem to be able to do everything during the night but housework.

During the dark hours, there is an unsettledness about life.  Unanswered questions haunt my mind and rob my spirit.  At the least expected moment, unfinished tasks, which lurk behind the closet doors, spring gleefully into my presence accusing me of woeful neglect.  Eventually I must force my weary body up from the bed and begin the road back to faith-filled thoughts.

Insomnia isn’t considered a disability in any of the textbooks. Yet, I sometimes wonder how often people within the mentally challenged community would identify with my struggles.  I cannot seem to find the key that unlocks sleep.   It seems easy for so many others.  Everyone else seems to know the secret.  Why is it kept from me?

Then again, why can’t Brad read?  He can take apart any piece of equipment, repair it and put it back together.  Tom reads and is high functioning but he knows nothing about numbers.  Can that be explained?  Why does Carl struggle with normal conversation?  He can recite every sports statistic known to man.  Why can Tammy sing every word to a song, yet an interpreter is needed to decipher any sentence, she tries to put together?

The Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community and we work daily with persons with developmental disabilities.  We do classic ministry of evangelism and discipleship.  It is always a challenge to find and amplify the best in our members while attempting to minimize the deficits.

Sometimes the challenge keeps me awake.  But then everything keeps me awake! What about you?  What seems easy and natural to everyone else but hard for you?  How does this make you identify with your members?

Prayer is such a great mystery and marvel in the life of Christians.  It is fascinating how the Lord answers prayer.  Yet, when prayer is answered suddenly and completely, I can’t help but wonder, does the Lord have us ask for things that are about to happen?

Several years ago we had the honor to have a couple from Wisconsin who are in disability ministry visiting our home.  I love having guests.  In fact, years ago we built a large second story room that was to have two purposes.  It was a meeting place but also a place to house visitors.  After a few years, the meetings that were being held in our home slowly dissolved.   But we continue to use the room for guests.

Mostly, it is for teenagers who seem to wander in and out of our lives.  Teenagers are some of my favorite people.  Face it, if they aren’t your responsibility,  they are exhilarating folks to have around.  Because every teen occasionally needs a place to hang out for a day or two, our home is spacious and pretty convenient.

Last week, we had a visit from members of our family.  But today as I was preparing the house for our next visitors, I prayed, “Lord, I would love to have someone else to stay in our home soon.”  I reminded the Lord that we had built this room as a “prophet’s chamber.”  It would be nice to have someone in ministry come who needed a room.

A couple of hours later, we got a call from Tony and Jo Piantine.  We met years ago at a disability conference.  Their younger son, Dan, had a severe disability that meant that he was required to spend many hours each day in a portable machine that helped him breathe.  Dan died when he was 21 or 22 about 15 years ago.  Since that time, their other son, Tony, Jr. has headed a ministry which has built a camp for persons with disabilities in Wisconsin–Camp Daniel.  Their website is www.campdaniel.org.

Jo and Tony, Sr.  are an important part of the ministry.  They were in Florida resting before summer hit again.  As soon as Jo identified herself, I knew God had heard and answered my prayer.  Of course, I invited them to stay with us and they accepted our invitation.

Again, the dilemma of prayer, did the Lord remind me of the original purpose of our upper room because they were coming or did he answer my spontaneous prayer?  Either way, can you imagine having a God so intimately involved in our lives that he works things out in minute details?

In Deuteronomy 5 from The Message, I read this morning, “What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us?”  Sure, there are times that we pray and wait and listen for years for a deep yearning that can only be expressed in prayer.  But aren’t we all grateful for the special times that we pray and two hours later, the phone rings and our prayer is answered.

Have you had a time recently when God answered a prayer immediately?  What is the prayer you have been praying for years that seems to be left unheard and unanswered?  Do the times that God answers immediately encourage you that God hears but his timing is different?