Keeping The Night Hours

(My submission to our church’s Advent Calendar Project for Day 13)


Psalm 146:5-10 / Ruth 4:13-17 / 2 Peter 3:11-18

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith for ever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign for ever,
    your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!”

Psalm 146:5-10

by Leslie Linebarger

These days are long, and the nights are even longer. This year has been a year of pain, of set-backs, of loneliness, and of longing. In August, I received a mild brain injury, brought on when I fell and hit my head, which forced me to slow down and to recognize my limitations. In theory, I knew all along that I had limitations, but in August, they became a painfully embarrassing reality for someone like me, who likes to think that what defines me is my competence, my diligence, my efficiency. Suddenly, I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t remember words, I couldn’t remember events, I couldn’t keep up with relationships and all I wanted to do was sleep. Perhaps the most cruel side effect of concussion is the longing for sleep while not being able to sleep. For three months straight, I had a throbbing head, which woke me at all hours of the night and I would lay there, awake, thinking about the work I couldn’t get done, the bills I needed to pay, the shopping I needed to do in order to care for my family and provide a lovely home, the relationships that weighed on my heart, all my family members living so far away, the aching all over my aging, breaking body, and the children and grandchildren that have so many needs and dreams of their own, that break my heart into five million pieces every time I so much as breathe their names.

And now I find myself in Advent.

I wait in the dark where I long for sleep but sleep eludes me.

I breathe.

I breathe God’s name.


God with us.

I breathe God’s name. The breath fills me. The breath releases. God fills me. God releases me.

The beauty of this thought breaks my heart into five million pieces. This Light, this God With Us, fills me, is in me, is around me, has gone before me, is going out into the world, is touching every living thing with breath and life and beauty. This God With Us compels me to rest in my inadequacies, to love others in their inadequacies, to keep faith in times of doubt, to open my eyes to beauty that surrounds me and to lift up my head and wait with expectant joy even when the night seems neverending. A light has appeared in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. He has come, He is here, He is coming again.

Come, Lord Jesus.