How to be on guard–even when you’re caught off-guard

moon in dark night sky

The Lord can keep us–even as we sleep. It is possible to be on guard–even when you’re caught off-guard!

As a young mother, seeking to honor God in all of my parenting, I leaned on Him very heavily for strength.  “When I am weak, then am I strong” and “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” strengthened me!

It is awesome what God can do through us, if we let HIm.  He will even take our negative feelings–bitterness, anger, impatience–and give us true power in exchange: forgiveness, love, and peace.

Day by day, I clung to the promises and day by day, the Lord was sustaining me.  He is faithful!

But one night I noticed something very disturbing.

In the daytime, I could handle temptation fine (not that I was perfect, but the Lord was working in my life and I praise Him!).  A difficult situation would arise; the Holy Spirit would call to my heart; I would return the call with a cry for help, even if it was “Lord, help me be willing”; and He always answered with strength for the trial.  I could rest with confidence in the moment that my heart was right with HIm.

In the night, though, something different was happening.  I would go to sleep (as is a good thing to do in the night), and somewhere in the night, someone would wake me up.

It did not matter if it was my son coming into the room to ask for help with something, my daughter crying because she was scared, or my husband waking me to talk.  Whoever the person and whatever the reason, my impulsive reaction was anger.

Unfortunately, my voice made that obvious.  I may not have said these words, but my tone, I am sure, made the message clear: “What right do you have waking me up in the middle of the night?  How could you be so selfish!  Don’t you see I’m trying to sleep?”

The words were probably more along the lines of, “What do you want?”

Now, once I got out of the grogginess of just being woke up, I was fine.  I could calmly help with whatever trouble needed tending to–but those first few moments were not okay.

One night it hit me.  Someone else may have awakened me physically, but the Holy Spirit woke me up spiritually.  “Am I not the God of the night, as well as of the day?”


What was I doing wrong here?

God never wounds except He bind up, too.  And He never wounds unnecessarily.  There was a problem here, and it needed to be fixed.

Of course, He knew the answer even before I knew there was a problem.  And it was really a quite simple answer, at that.  I started praying when I went to lay down at night that the Lord would keep me even as I slept.  I prayed that if I had to be woke up in the night, that His power would give me peace from the start–before I was even conscious enough in the moment to make that decision.

And you know what?  God heard my prayer.  I started waking calmly.  I was learning a very important part of Christianity: that is, how to be on-guard, even when we are caught off-guard.

We never know what trials or temptations may come our way–or when.  We never know when sleep or sickness or injury might cloud our power of choice.  What we can know, though, is that God is calling to us now.

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2)*

We can also know that God knows the future and that no temptation can come our way without God holding out to us the strength we need to endure–and overcome!

“…God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape….” (I Corinthians 10:13)

He has also promised us wisdom if we only ask (James 1:5).

Above that even, He has promised us the Holy Spirit: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)

We may be caught off-guard, but resting in the safety of God, we may be always shielded from the enemy’s sneaky attacks; for One who never slumbers or sleeps has promised to guard us…

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. ~Psalm 28:7

…and He’s even got my back:

and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rearward. ~Isaiah 58:8


* II Corinthians 6:2 is one of the memory verses for VBS–Superstars for Jesus.

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