What Keeps You Up At Night?

What Keeps You Up At Night?

August 5, 2016

“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63:6-7 (NLT)


Darkness blanketed my quiet house. No one was stirring, not even a mouse. Yet my heart would not be still.

Just a few hours before, my heart danced to the sweet sounds of my husband, Luke, tucking our boys into bed. The spaghetti dishes piled up in the sink didn’t even bother me.

The buzz of Luke’s phone interrupted my party. Who could be calling at this hour? When Luke met me in the kitchen, my dancing heart had ceased.

“Someone’s calling you,” I choked out. “The number is from work.”

The voice on the other end confirmed our fears — a job change, effective immediately.

And when I say immediately I mean like by breakfast the next morning our family would be in a new city hundreds of miles away.

Let the packing begin.

Working at the pace of an Olympic sprinter, I washed clothes and folded them into piles, sorted them and threw them into bags. I arranged for doggy care while we figured out where on earth we’d live in this new place, then gathered snacks for the journey ahead.

Finally, with only a few hours to spare I tried to force my eyes shut, and tried to shut down my mind. But this night, I couldn’t find the off button. In the midst of my midnight mayhem, a friend sent a message to say, “God’s up. You don’t have to be.”

Her timely words remided me of a principle my kids learned one day at violin lessons.

“Don’t squeeze. Just kind of sink all the way to the bottom,” the teacher instructed.

As she taught her eager students to play new notes, she noticed they took their effort a little too far. They focused hard and fixed their eyes on the strings. They wanted so badly to do it right.

But their work didn’t produce the results they’d hoped for. The note screeched off the strings and the sound pierced the air, forced and unpleasant.

My boys looked confused. They’d tried so hard, and it just wasn’t working. “What did I do wrong?” they wondered. That’s when the music teacher loosened their grip.

“Sink don’t squeeze,” she said. “The note will play itself. Simply place your finger on the string and let it sink all the way down.”

What if God’s plans for us are like those strings? Created. Arranged. Ready. We simply need to sink into them.

But sometimes we don’t. We squeeze instead of loosening our grip. We encounter a challenging assignment and assume God brought us to it, but left us alone to do it. So we work really hard and give it all we’ve got, all the while screeching out a substitute version of the beautiful melody God intended.

Our key verse gives us another option, “I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 63:6-7).

King David penned these words in the wilderness, on the run from a vast army led by his own rebellious son.

Yikes! If there were ever a moment to be up at night worrying, this would be it.

David did lie awake at night, but not for the reasons we’d expect. Instead of fearing for his life or devising a plan of escape, he couldn’t stop thinking about God.

When you find yourself squeezing and not releasing, maybe move your mind from the goal to the Giver of the goal.

After I read my friend’s wise words that night, my heart shifted. Instead of counting all the things still left to do, I counted on God’s greatness, power and provision. I even giggled as I considered my great big, powerful God watching me scurry about thinking it’s all up to me.

If you’re confused and exhausted today, wondering why your best effort hasn’t played the tune you hoped for, maybe it’s time to loosen your grip. Sink into God’s love for you, then rest in the shadow of His wings.

Dear God, I want my thoughts to swirl with praises to You instead of churn with anxiety over the assignments You give me. Help me shift my thoughts to the richness of Your presence and provision. And as I do, let me sink into the wonderful plans You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (NIV)

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (HCSB)

Do you want to rely more on God? The First 5 App is designed to help you give your first minutes to God every day.

Join Katy McCown on her blog today for some practical ways to sink into God’s will for your life.

Make a list of the things that keep your mind racing and commit to pray about these things daily.

Call a friend and ask her to pray with you.

© 2016 by Katy McCown. All rights reserved.

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  1. I really liked those words “God is up. You don’t have to be”. He has everything covered so I don’t have to waste one precious moment worrying about it. I tried to tell my sister that and she said it was easy for me because I am not a worrier. My Mother use to make herself sick with worry so when I was engaged to my husband my dear father-in-law to be, suggested that I write down the things that worry me and see how they turned out. What wonderful advice and it really worked. Now as my faith has grown I know that worry would have robbed me of many wonderful moments God had in store for me. ❤️

  2. Thank you so much for this much needed message, as its early morning and my mind is still racing. I need to just Let Go and Let God…….sink and losses my grip, so He can take full control of my situation.

  3. Thank you for your message ~ your words have been the vessel God used to speak to me to lighten the urgency I have been fretting over. Time to place the bigness of my task in the BIGness of my God.
    As my daughter likes to say, “Nighters!”
    Blessings & Prayers

  4. Loved this! And all the great verses as well…especially 2 Corinthians 9:8.
    Our God is Awesome!

  5. Thank you for the wonderful words reminding us the we shouldn’t carry the burden but give it all to God for he is in control and his plans for us are perfect. All we need to do is le go n let God Amen

  6. Really great article. I love the analogy of the violin and squeezing too high instead of sinking in. It is so easy for us to want to do so good that we can forget to fully rely upon the one who helps us do what’s needed. I also like the line, God’s up so you don’t have to be. So simple yet our minds race and we can lose sight of that as we try to figure it all out. I try to remind myself to do my best but to allow God to do the rest.

  7. Thanks so much for your words. Believe it or not I came across your devotion late tonight as I sat on a balcony unable to get my mind to rest so that I could sleep. Why you ask? Because my husband was just slated to take a new job across country which meant another move for our family. This was a God send to me because I have lost my focus. I am now going to try to shift my focus to the goal giver.

  8. Nanci Dunton says:

    Absolutely loved this! Thank you so much!

  9. I chuckle as I read this because here I am unable to sleep at 2:15AM reading this devotion.
    Perhaps I can give to God and get some sleep since he is awake anyway?
    , Goodnight!

  10. Michelle says:

    Thank you 🙂 I use to be full of anxiety, there was even a meme out there saying “my super hero power is I can jump to worst case scenarios in a single bound” lol. It is amazing how my relationship with Jesus has changed all that. Will keep your devotional in mind for when things do get a little scary.

  11. Just beautiful and so timely in our lives right now. I will be reading and thinking on this when I wake at night over thinking something. Love that image of God giggling at our scurrying worrying! Thankyou.

  12. wow….again.

  13. I feel like I have broken every string on my violin lately. I am going back to teaching for the first time in eight years. I have worked myself into a complete frenzy getting ready. I come home at night exhausted with nothing left for my family. Lord, please help me to realize that I do not have to do this on my own. Thank you for this reminder of God’s faithfulness

    • Mary in NH says:

      Natalie, if God has opened the door for you to take this teaching job, do it with joy unto the Lord. I’m a teacher too, and made the career change at 45 with two teens in the house and elder care responsibilities. I know what those moments feel like! On my list of worries when I couldn’t sleep last night was “how can I get my cute bulletin board be ready for the first day of school?” Now after ten years, I know it all somehow gets done, and if it doesn’t, it’s usually not missed. Good luck this year, God bless.

  14. Michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  15. Denise Snead says:

    Thank you for this timely message

  16. Hooray for King David!
    Love the image of him resting in the shadow of Gods wings!It is one I believe I will try when anxiety comes my way.Reminds me of “Your spirit goes before me and you grant me your peace.”
    Awe, the promise of God’s peace fulfilled!

  17. As a school librarian, this is definitely God “hitting me on the head with a frying pan” kind of timing.. As others have mentioned, there is so much to do at this time of year, seems that one could always do more. I will definitely be focusing on these scriptures to lean on Him, not my own efforts so that I can show Him to others around me.

  18. This devotion was so timely. I was up at 12:45am reading this. I couldn’t sleep because I just completed my university degree and I’m so happy, but at the same time I’m worried about what’s next for me in terms of employment. But thankfully God’s thoughts and ways are not my ways. He holds my future and He is constantly working to fulfill His purpose in me. I just have to trust and rest in that today. I love the analogy of the violin because it’s an instrument I loved playing when I was in middle school. This devo made me think back to the times when I was learning to play it right. The same thing can be said about my faith. It takes learning and it takes practice to sink into His love rather than to squeeze with all we’ve got. To trust the Giver of the goal rather than the goal. Thank you for this awesome reminder today Katie.

  19. Kim Phillips says:

    Beautiful and timely. Thank you!

  20. I needed this so much. Lord I release my grip, I surrender all of my burdens unto to you who is willing and able to do great things for me, lord I trust that you are good. Lord I trust that you are good to me, lord I trust that you keep all of your promises. Lord, take my yoke. Lighten my weight, help me to hear your voice as you lead me with your love through this very difficult season that has lasted so many years now. Lord you are love, provide rich blessings according to your will.

  21. Neusa Maria Moraes Oliveira says:

    Blessed by this devotional. – thank you!

  22. Beth O'Keefe says:

    So so so timely. Blessings to you!

  23. Lynette Hughes says:

    Hold it all together
    Everybody needs you strong
    But life hits you out of nowhere
    And barely leaves you holding on

    And when you’re tired of fighting
    Chained by your control
    There’s freedom in surrender
    Lay it down and let it go

    So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
    You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
    Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
    I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
    Just be held, just be held

    If your eyes are on the storm
    You’ll wonder if I love you still
    But if your eyes are on the cross
    You’ll know I always have and I always will

    And not a tear is wasted
    In time, you’ll understand
    I’m painting beauty with the ashes
    Your life is in My hands

    Lift your hands, lift your eyes
    In the storm is where you’ll find Me
    And where you are, Ill hold your heart
    Ill hold your heart
    Come to Me, find your rest
    In the arms of the God who wont let go

  24. SHALOM. Thanks a lot for sharing this, love from Madrid (Spain).

  25. I am pregnant for the 5th time after 4 miscarriages. We were blessed to adopt our daughter 4 years ago and were able to get pregnant this time through embryo adoption. I’m finding myself back in that familiar place of fear and anxiety feeling completely out of control. I’m wanting this so badly for our family. I’ve been having trouble sleeping bc of worry and fear that I will lose these babies (twins as we found out yesterday!). I don’t want to miss the beauty of this blessing by trying to hold so tight to the outcome. Most of all I don’t want those old fears from past grief and loss to steal the joy of what God is doing now. This reading has convinced me to let go and relax into the wonder of what God has done and will do through this amazing time. Thank you. Just what I needed to hear.

    • Dear Whitney, I’m praying with you right now against all fear, anxiety and worry! I pray that God’s supernatural peace and love would envelope you like a cloud that never lets you go! I pray for healthy pregnancy, easy delivery, healthy Mommy and babies! I am a twin myself, what a great blessing to have my sister! I pray your family can experience this joy of watching them grow! Lord Jesus please be with your precious daughter Whitney, grant her peace and health! In Your mighty name I pray, AMEN.

    • Whitney, thank you so much for sharing this here. I just love your words, “I don’t want to miss the beauty of this blessing by trying to hold so tight to the outcome.” I pray you find indescribable rest and peace as you trust in God. Congratulations on your precious twins!

  26. For 36 hours we have been praying for our 17 year old grandson. Who was first in the ICU. He could not stop throwing up, and so they landed at the doctors office, did his blood sugar, it was “600” and he was sliding into a diabetic coma. By ambulance they took him to a large hospital, and put him on an insulin drip. We prayed thru the night and all day yesterday. Last night, I could not sleep for being anxious for my grandson. I drug myself out of bed this morning, and there in my email, was your devotion…My oh my!!!! Does our FATHER ever know how to reach our hearts and minds instantly!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you for posting this today…..it was exactly what I needed to read and sink into my heart! Thank you. margaret

    • Praying for your grandson, and you ??

    • Wow, your post really touched my heart. as you can see, I am also Margaret and our name is not the only thing we have in common. I am not a grandmother, but the mother of a 19 year old son with type I diabetes. I will be praying for your family and especially for your precious grandson!

  27. WOW…. sometimes God is truly speaking to me through a message and today is this one! I was awake at 4am but instead of meditating on God I was anxious about work. I’m going to save this message and bible verses and remind myself I’m not doing it alone! Thank you!

  28. Thank you so much. I have never thought this way before and have spent many sleepless nights worrying and anxious about the future. The phrase “God’s up. You don’t have to be.”, is life changing. Thanks for blessing me with that reminder. You are loved and appreciated!

  29. Peggy Glover says:

    Thanks for sharing these inspired words…when you are a worrier, as I am, it’s hard to let go…but it does rob us of weeks, months, and years of receiving the blessings God has laid out for us to receive. A few months ago, I heard a Chris Tomlin song that plays right into this… ” I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”. What a blessing for believers!

  30. This was a blessing this morning for me and my type A self! God doesn’t need me to help Him, He needs me to trust and obey Him! I’m sinking into Him today!

  31. Thank you thank you thank you! I have started Proverbs 31 devotions this week in light of beginning the school year with a fresh perspective! Wow! This is the best! I have felt so much like I was on my own, squeezing instead of sinking into God’s power, love, and Grace! What a mind flip!
    God grant me the discipline and the desire to each day sink into your work rather than squeezing!

  32. I have to chuckle at myself. This morning as I tossed and turned, I decided to go to the First5 app. I read and prayed and finally dozed off. Now I learn I should have come to the Ps 31 post first! “God’s up so you don’t have to be.” Love this! ?

  33. Anne Marie says:

    Amazing devotional! Love the phrase “God’s up so I don’t have to be”! I’m definitely remembering that one for my next insomniac phase!

    • Anne Marie Bonardelli says:

      100% agree. The exact same sentiment from another ‘Anne Marie’ . Thank you, and the bags under my eyes Thank you too!

  34. Dasha smith says:

    I would say sometimes exciting things that show up when it comes to you know doing something fun or just overthinking about things that have happened the past few days or last week

  35. Doreen Mapstone says:

    Thank you! God seems to send the appropriate devo on the right day! I have been struggling lately. We just moved thousands of miles from a place I loved and was just settling into. Now here with no friends and little money (our expenses have increased,) I was struggling to get everything done and it has been keeping me up at night. I know God brought us here and he has a plan, I need to stop stressing and follow him! Thanks for this reminder and being open. It is nice to know, I am not the only one!

  36. Debbie Herbst says:

    I have been struggling with a difficult situation in my work, involving slander to me and lack of support, over several months. My husband and I were discussing what I should do and as I read this devo, my heart was just filled with joy at God’s answer. He is the one who gave me this calling and He can provide abundantly what is needed–that I could never orchestrate. Thank you for being the way God spoke to me today, at a pivotal time.

  37. Thank you, LORD that You continue to mold us and make us, even in the night seasons, because You are never late in anything that You bless us with. No matter what we think of it. So very thankful for this today.

  38. Just BEAUTiful!!!

  39. Thank you! I have 4 girls and the commencement of school seemed to start 2nd to the last day of the last school year. My husband started a new job and we have taken the responsibilities of new ministries. I often find myself squeezing till my knuckles turn white. I love the idea of sinking down instead. It’s the difference between a reaction and a response.

  40. So good, so timely, and so needed at a time where God is about to place me in my new assignment that will stretch me and probably scare me. But thanks be to God who has given us the victory through Jesus Christ!

  41. Always on Time!! God is always on Time!!!
    Thank you for this message as it was like always on Time!!

  42. Well, if this is just so perfectly timed… Amazing.

    I’m reading through The Best Yes and learning just this morning to walk in courage to say no, but also because I know I can rest that God will lead when it’s best to say yes.

    Thank you for this devotion.

  43. Vicki Hampton says:

    Thank you … I needed this message as I begin chemotherapy on Tuesday… I will sink into Gods loving care

  44. Thank you Katy………..I really enjoy your devotionals. The analogy of the violin is one that I will not forget. I needed this reminder as well as “God’s up, you don’t have to be”. ~Lisa~

  45. For me, it’s not what keeps me up at night, it’s what wakes me up at night. 2:30 most nights, I am wide awake. So, for an hour or so, I check email, blogs, facebook. Sometimes I do a COMPEL training. And I pray and write what is on my heart.

  46. Dearest,
    What keeps me up at night is the fact that you probably won’t read this neither will you respond. What keeps me up at night is I have 3 degrees including a doctorate yet I can’t seem to get my foot in the door of the publishing industry. It seems as if even the Christian publishing industry plays the same game of idol worship instead of holding fast to great content, hard work and delivery.

    I’m burned out on the dreams of conferences, devotions like this and sites like this. It’s like a huge scheme similar to pyramid marketing where just a few big-shots make it on the backs of millions of peons hoping to be just like those they idolize. So I’m signing off. I’m

    • …just tired and using this comment section as a way to vent and joke my way to sanity. It’ll all work out. Katy I know you’re doing your best and Proverbs 31 truly a great organization! But… honestly isn’t this how many of us as creative types feel? No matter how accomplished we may be in any one particular area, when we hunger for that dream everything else seems to pale in comparison.

      The truth is God is in everything even the things that keep us up at night. Even our bitterness, type A behavior, plans, or a lack thereof. The truth is I’ve recently gotten incredibly positive feedback from my recent book I’m just discouraged things aren’t taking off as quickly and I’ve got to keep my eyes on God’s goodness and not people.

      Thank you for the opportunity to share

      • Beth Williams says:


        Prayers for you to get published. Don’t know why it is so hard–God has specific plans for you. He will make a way soon@

        Blessings 🙂

  47. Amanda McDaniel says:

    God never ceases to amaze me. It’s 1:37am and I’m up with tears and my mind racing over a de idiom I must make professionally, and here this is. I have not looked at my devotional in weeks as I was holding on tightly with me in control. I break tonight and tap open my P31 app. Coincidence? Nope. I AM holding to tightly and need to loosen my grip and give it to HIM. These words are piercing me and I’m listening. Thank you!

  48. I skipped my usual devotional and felt the need to get on here for one. Wow. That couldn’t have been better timing. We are currently looking for a new place to live, due to my husband resigning as pastor of the church and they graciously provided a parsonage that we need to move out. God has called us to a new ministry here in our city. I find myself up at night worrying about things I know God already has for us. Where are we going to live? How are we going to do this? etc. “Sink into His plans” Oh man I needed to hear that. Thank you for letting God speak through you this morning.

  49. Paul Wilcox says:

    What sort of job makes such authoritarian demands.
    Are you in a cult.
    Hope you find freedom soon.
    Dont have such things here in England. Move here. But take as long as you like to pack.

  50. Thank you! This fits my present situation perfectly. Thank you, Lord, for leading me to this message.

  51. The message today was very meaningful to me. I read devotionals each day and talk to God frequently. When prayers aren’t answered at the pace I would like them to be, I “grip” onto the problem and try to attack it myself. That’s why frustration sets in…because God works at his own pace. Thank you for reminding me how important it is to continue to pray patiently for God to answer the call. He works at his pace for the betterment of all.

  52. Wow! What a timely thought at a timely moment. I had trouble sleeping last night worrying about how I was going to juggle a problem in the coming weeks. I prayed for God’s leadership and did fall off to sleep. But I woke early this morning with the same concerns and I let myself lie in the bed mulling it over and over frustrated because I still had no answer. Sometimes even though we know we should sink into God’s word and take comfort in knowing he is in control; there we go trying to do the job on our own. ” And my God will supply all my needs in Christ Jesus” Phil 4:19.

  53. Kathryn Willet says:

    Hi! This was a lovely devotion but my curiosity has the best of me! What does your husband do that you would actually have to leave the next morning like that? I would surely have a heart attack.

  54. Katy, I had an extremely fretful night stressing over escalating worries about our son as he prepares to leave for college. As the relationship seems to be spiraling, I’ve “tightened” my grip and tried to force him to see where he is heading toward trouble and mistakes.

    Our God is so patient, strong and loving that He waited for me to exhaust myself and then gently handed me your devotion this morning.

    5 days ago, I would not have been ready to hear the personal message that the Lord had ready for me to claim.

    This morning, I’m sinking all the way down into the loving arms of my helper and resting.

    Today’s challenges will be met with less urgency and friction; I claim the awesome power of Christ to direct our thoughts, our hearts, and our love for each other to work things out for good.

    Thank you for being God’s way of speaking to me. Be blessed.

  55. Beth Williams says:

    I have been there also. Awake at night worrying about life and circumstances. How am I gonna handle this or get through that. Your friend’s comment struck a good chord with me. From now on I will tell myself God’s up and God’s got this! He will make a way out!!!

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