What do you get if you cross an insomniac, an agnostic and a dyslexic? Someone who stays up all night wondering if there really is a dog.
If you didn’t outright belly laugh at that, then you have had a good night’s rest. I on the other hand, seriously sleep deprived, laughed until I cried when I heard it. An enhanced sense of humor is just one of the many side effects of sleeping only three hours in a 63 hour period. Another is that you slim down, not on purpose of course; but after the 24-hour awake mark your fork can no longer find your mouth. And you know that irritating indention in your bed where you used to sleep? It disappears.
I’m not an insomniac. I was sleep deprived because I got really far behind on a work project preparing for 16 hours of workshops I was scheduled to present. My initial timeline involved preparing over a two-week period. What I failed to plan for were other people’s agendas that kept me from my own. Day after day, my plans went unrealized until I found myself with just two days to prepare.
I sequestered myself in my office and began the tedious task of writing curriculum, researching case studies, creating media presentations and guzzling coffee and soda. I learned a great deal more than workshop material over the next wearying hours. While some people think brain function diminishes with exhaustion, I found that I could take in more information thanks to the fact that I eventually lost all ability to blink. I discovered it’s possible for coffee to completely loose its taste after the 17th cup. And, I truly came to appreciate the loyalty of my dog at about the 29th hour when everyone else was on their second night of sleep, but man’s best friend was still at your side, raising eyebrows of approval as I brainstormed new ideas out loud. But I can’t take all the credit for the progress I was making; the voices in my head started coming up with really good ideas by hour 28 – or was it hour 42? I actually forget how many times I had seen the sun rise since the last time I slept.
By presentation day, I had created what my dog and my voices thought was a spectacularly brilliant workshop. The only question was who was going to present it? I had long since begun to exhibit the classic signs of sleep deprivation, like impaired speech. I was at great risk of welcoming everyone to a very “impotent workshop.” I had already lost the ability to retrieve common words and found myself floundering for the word to describe that funny metal thing that spits out connectors to hold pieces of paper together.
I knew my reaction times were delayed when the car behind me honked as I sat idle at a green light unable to figure out what I was suppose to do after it changed pretty colors. I forgot what day it was and became disproportionally interested in the word ‘disproportionate.’
And then something quite unexpected happened. Around hour 48 I got a second wind. I felt refreshed and clear headed. My energy came back, I knew it was Tuesday, the voices disappeared and I remembered how to ask for a stapler. From some unknown place came the mental and physical energy to be fully ended.
I would not have believed had someone told me I could competently complete a significant project while enduring 63 hours of sleep deprivation. Yet, it happened. I adjusted and I endured. I would also never in my right mind intentionally plan such an experiment in human testing. Life, however, doesn’t’ always give us optimum conditions nor thorough preparation.
There are times when every person encounters circumstances for which no amount of planning, study or experience are adequate. In those moments, or days, or weeks, or years, it is by God’s grace alone that we can lay hold of what we need at the exact moment we need it. Like a second wind, His grace overtakes us in our insufficiency and carries us through on in His strength.
The Apostle Paul, who had a resume, experience, a track record, and moral support, still found himself unable to be prepared for every eventuality. So He sought the only resource that could make up for his lack in the midst of a hard circumstance.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
When we find we are deprived of the ability to face life circumstances from our own resources, our second wind can be found in the grace and strength of Christ’s power.