I suppose if you’re in your twenties or thirties or even your forties, you might think one way about heat waves in sheets. But if you’re well into your fifties and female, there is an alternative way of thinking.
Yes indeed! ‘Tis the season of life for frequent private summers blowing in from God-knows-where in the midst of the coldest Wisconsin winter I have ever experienced.
Strong wind rattles our west windows the night I crawl into bed next to a veritable hot water bottle. That would be my husband all covered in hair. Me, of such fair skin and thin mammalian covering? I appreciate cozying up to my furry beast of a man, especially when it’s 20 below zero, a wind chill of -38, and gale warnings in effect until 7 A.M. But at this stage of life, who knows when I will suddenly turn from an appreciative, soft, and cuddly curly head to a Tazmanian devil, ripping off sheets with heavy sighs and growls, scrambling as far as possible from that beasty heat source without falling out of bed.
So, there I am two nights ago. Sleeping soundly in my pure cotton gown, I awake suddenly to find myself soaking wet with my own sweat. I feel nauseous and think that if I don’t lower my body temperature immediately, I am going to faint and most probably never gain consciousness again—which, in my opinion, at this stage of life, might just be an OK thing. Then again, I have many living creatures dependent on my daily giving, so I would feel far too guilty wishing my early demise.
I sit up, grab my red file folder marked “Hot Flash Fan” from my nightstand and begin wildly waving it up and down, pretty near the speed of hummingbird wings. (I haven’t figured out how to photograph this yet, thus—no picture here.) Well, when one is burning up but soaking wet, and rapidly waving hot flash folder, air-conditioning becomes too chilly. I hop out of bed, highly annoyed, venture into the dark closet, and change into a fresh cotton gown in the middle of this freezing, dark night of my soul.
Ahhhhh! There! Dry and heat-regulated again! Back to bed I go! My beautiful, beasty husband is snoring slightly and sweetly on his side of the bed, oblivious to my condition. I drift off to sleep once more after about an hour of wondering if I’ll make it to morning without another interruption.
The answer is “NO!”
I wake to the horror of being bound in my new nighty! The one I threw in the laundry basket was short, purposefully chosen because I am a rotisserie sleeper, meaning that I rotate all night long in the same direction for some insane reason. But this night, after soaking through my first cotton nighty, I mistakenly dress in a longer one. I should have known better!
Here I am, on my back, soaking wet AGAIN, but this time, I’m unable to MOVE! I feel like a stick of cotton candy all spun in on itself. But my spirit is far from sweet! The only way out of this ridiculous situation is for me to unwind. I figure I got myself into this predicament with a counter-clockwise rotisserie motion. Obviously, I’ll have to unwind myself clock-wise. Let the spinning begin!
Left side. Stomach. Right side. Stomach. Repeat process till fully unwound, pulling long cotton nighty down from around neck with each quarter-turn.
“How the heck did I get wound so tightly in this nighty,” I’m sputtering as I go.
Sweet husband is still sleeping soundly. The curse of Woman is upon me.
Set free at last, I arise without shining and head to the bathroom. I towel dry and head back to the closet for yet another cotton nighty—this time checking to make sure I pull out a short one.
Finally, because of better living through medication, I fall back to sleep shortly and awake a bit less than refreshed with the other human inhabitants of the house. But all is not lost! There’s surely a spiritual application in nightly, nighty suffering!
Oh yes! There is!
I think of Lazarus, even though he was a man, and even though, if he DID have hot flashes before he died, I’m positive they came from desert winds blowing up from the south and not from his hormones. I think of Lazarus in that tomb, bound tightly, dead three days and stinking, stone rolled across creating the darkest of places.
And then came Jesus.
Not content to just raise from the dead, He gave a second command after telling Lazarus to come out of the tomb into the light of day—into the newness of life.
“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Lazarus was fully alive by the power of God, but not yet fully free. He still had bindings. Death wrappings. Strips of restriction prohibiting movement that he could not remove by himself. And he longed to be free. Don’t we all?
Will we allow Jesus to free us from all that binds, alive in Him though we already may be? I can figure out how to unwind myself from a long, soaked nightgown. But I can’t unwind myself from my spiritual death strips. I need the power of God. I need the One who longs to unwrap me and set me free—completely—from all that steals peace and joy and hope and love—true, abundant life. Thankfully . . .
He is able.
He is willing.
He is wanting.
Let the grave clothes fall!
Let Him unwrap the GIFT and give it to us!