I hear you knockin’, but you can’t come in…

January 7, 2016

In 1955 Smiley Lewis recorded the Song I hear you knockin’, but you can’t come in. It was an early, slow rock and roll song that was covered by Fats Domino, who had more success with it than Smiley did. Fats Domino went on to fame and fortune, while Smiley’s career languished and he died in poverty.

I thought of this song recently while thinking about how often I hear God access deniedknocking and trying to help me, but I won’t let Him in. The free will (it might also be called ego) that God gave mankind can also act as a door to keep Him out when we most need him. We toil through life trying to solve things ourselves, letting our egos get in the way; rather than letting Him take our burdens and help.

Do you hear God knocking on your door? Do you let Him in? If not, why not? Is it because your ego won’t let you admit that you need help?

Men in particular seem to be less inclined to ask God for help with troubles in their lives. I’m not sure why we are “trained” to “keep a stiff upper lip” or when we are indoctrinated in a culture of stoic resolve to solfootball player1ve all problems without help. I remember the “big boys don’t cry” admonishments as a child and the “shake it off” advice for almost any hurt while growing up and the “suck it up” guidance for dealing with pain or disappointments. I suspect that athletics in general contribute greatly to that self-image of being able to live with pain.

Women seem to be so much better at sharing their problems and needs with other women and I suspect in turning to God for help in troubled times. I wonder if there is a difference in women athletes in that regard, since athletics is one area where the whole “macho” image thing is an important factor. The whole concussion problem that we now take veryfemale soccer player seriously grew out of the macho “shake it off” creed of athletics. So, I wonder if female athletes, especially those engaged in contact sports (which include soccer) develop a more insular approach to life and religion because of the stoicism required for those sports. Do they hear God knockin’ but they won’t let Him in? I suspect that it is not the case, as it is with men.

I’m just not sure when the “Jesus loves me” messages of Sunday School were replaced by the “Don’t share with others and don’t ask God” stoicism of adult life. Fortunately, I found my way back to that trust in God that we all started with as children, before adult cynicism settled in. I am neither reluctant nor ashamed to ask for God’s help when I need it, which is more often than my ego used to let me admit.

So what are we to do when we hear Him knockin’? Just ignore the quiet little voice saying, “Let me help you” and go about life in pain or desperation? I think rather than say,”I hear you knockin’, but you can’t come in”, perhaps we should take the approach of another song, this one a contemporary Christian song by Chris Tomlin and say, “Lord I need you.”

How will you respond when He knocks on your door today?

“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.” (Charlotte Bronte)

January 5, 2016

I have, more often that I’d like to admit, taken problems to bed with me and spent some of those nights restlessly trying to solve them. Most of usrestless sleep probably have a hard time “turning off” our minds so that we can sleep at night, rather than tossing and turning all night wrestling with some problem or perhaps our fears about some upcoming event. It’s hard not to think about things that have happened and how we should react to them or not to run over and over all of the worst case scenarios that we can imagine about some upcoming event.

The truth is that what we really need is a good night’s sleep so that we can awaken refreshed and ready to take on whatever we face that day. Pulling an “all-nighter” never worked for me in college and it doesn’t work today when faced with problems that will need to be solved tomorrow. Perhaps John Steinbeck had it right when he said:

“It is a common experience that a problem, difficult at night, is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” 

The human mind is a wonderful thing, but it can also be highly self-destructive. During the day there are usually lots of things going on to keep it busy, even if it is also engaged in solving a problem or planning for mind at workan upcoming event. While we are fully awake, most of us have the discipline to focus our minds on the tasks at hand in some organized way. It is when we lie down to sleep that we may find that given nothing else to occupy it our mind starts to run wild and in many directions at once (creating that “ruffled mind” that Charlotte Bronte referred to).

As we lay there at night, our imagination conjures up scenario after scenario, perhaps each more implausible than the last, but still we explore them in our half-asleep state. We’re not really asleep, but our minds are creating nightmares. Why? Because we feel that we must somehow solve whatever the problem is that we are fixated upon; even if there is no “solution”. We cannot admit that there may be no solution. We cannot accept that we can’t somehow solve it (whatever “it” is).

Perhaps the hardest thing for me to learn in my life was to let go of things and admit that I cannot solve all of the problems that I might encounter. Sometimes I just have to lay there in bed and let go by using my favorite little prayer – “Not my will but thy will be done.” I will admit that I prayingmentally fight it sometimes and I may have to repeat that prayer several times before I really can let go and trust that everything will be OK if I just put things in God’s hands.

Sometimes, when I need to convince myself that I’m still a little bit in charge of things I’ll change it up a bit by praying instead, “Lord, help me make the right decisions.” It least that lets me feed my ego and think that I’m more involved the solution process then. The important thing is to let go of the feeling that you are alone in whatever the situation is and that only you can affect the outcome and ask God for help. Try my little prayer and see if it works for you, too.

If you can get to that point where you can let go and put things in God’s hands; then you can get that good night’s sleep that you really need. You will likely find in the morning that Steinbeck’s advice then applies.

Have a great night’s sleep tonight!