Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beeps in the middle of the night

The beeps began about two o'clock in the morning, plaintively chirping, about every thirty seconds.  I know, because I timed it.  After emerging from a deep sleep, I wanted to make sure it was not a fabrication of my dreams.  My husband slumbered on, unawares.

I waited in the darkness, contemplating what to do, as if it were the whimper of a baby in the night.  "Go back to sleep," I hoped at first.  It continued for about twenty minutes before silence covered me up again.  And then 45 minutes later, it started again.  I got up in the chilled night air and wandered through the house, listening for the culprit, the thief of my sleep.  It was a smoke detector, letting me know with its nagging insistence, that its battery was retiring from active duty.

Were these devices programmed to go on alert in the middle of the night?

It was not in our room, nor in the hallway.  I crept around in stocking feet, trying hard not to wake the others who were sleeping.  I moved toward the sound, calling to me every half-minute, closer and closer, as if playing a childhood game of Marco Polo.  And then, walking past the spare room, I identified the source.  I stood under it as it beeped one last time as if it sensed my presence. "Ok, you caught me." And then, silence.

Ahh.  I went back to bed.  And 45 minutes later, it chirped again.

This morning, after a strong cup of coffee, I pulled a desk chair under the culprit, and changed the battery.  It took less than two minutes.  I regret not taking care of it at 2 a.m.

And what else wakes me in the middle of the night?  Something that I need to take care of?  A fear of what may happen, a lack of trust in what God is doing, panic over what is unfolding around me, a forgiveness that I've ignored -- beep, beep, beep -- an ungracious heart within me?

It doesn't go away by itself. 

And as I found,
               the battery was already there,
    the reality of His redeeming.

O LORD, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path
               and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.

                                 Psalm 139. 1-3

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