If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another

Sunday morning, 12:30 a.m. The wife and I slumber soundly. Our two mutts, Wally and Mina, began barking wildly. Incessantly. Seems our neighbors are in their kitchen in a loud conversation. (Houses are close together here.)

After the third attempt to quieten them, the wife locks them up in the bathroom for the night. They settle down.

After the wife slips back into bed, a light touch on my forehead tells me another mosquito has discovered my coveted blood. (Windows are open to the outside air, year-round, for natural air-conditioning.) I hop up, flip on the light switch, and hunt for the menace to health and restfulness. No luck. Back to bed.

The buzz returns. Repeat last action. This time I find him, but I can’t tell if I zapped him with the towel or not. Back to bed.

I doze off, and fireworks explode outside our open window — it’s now about 1:30 a.m. The dogs in the bathroom go wild. So does my heart.

After the pyrotechnics, I doze off again, until my eyes pop open, now around 2 a.m., at the bass of somebody’s Sound Surround rattling through the open window. After not a few unidentifiable bars of distorted sound, I wish I could trade it for my mosquito.

As my ancestors were wont to say, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

But I was proud of myself that early Sunday morning.

My groggy mental processes worked like this.

  • What good watchdogs we have! They don’t miss a thing.
  • Mosquitos? What a simple complication! (OK, so I was groggy …) It’s great my nerve endings are noting the pain.
  • Thanks to the fireworks, my heart’s doing a better job of pumping blood for the next mosquito.

I confess that by the time the loud music started, I was hard pressed.

Now, how did I retain my good humor over the repeated interruptions to our sleep?

Right before bedtime, I was working on future lessons for our Bible school study on 1 Thessalonians. Specifically, on chapter 5, verse 18: “in everything give thanks. For this is God?s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NET).

In the hour or so of sleep before the rude awakenings, my mind was turning that verse, by divine process, into internal truth.

Came the barkings, buzzes, booms, and blasts, and I was ready. I had, unwittingly, done my homework.

That’s life. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

  • The tests come back positive.
  • Johnny flunks a grade.
  • I get passed over for the promotion. Or let go unexpectedly.
  • Mother or Dad develops Alzheimer’s.
  • The wife contracts a debilitating disease.
  • The bank account is overdrawn and bills are overdue.
  • Retirement turns out to be the big disappointment.

My minor sleep reducers don’t come close to such trials and challenges. But the same principle applies to both.

When the Word is in the heart, prayers of grace and gratitude slip softly from the lips.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

And in each moment, I give thanks.

“You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart” (Psalm 51:6 NRSV).

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