One of the things I’ve noticed about growing older is that I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I wake up to use the facilities and then can’t get back to sleep.

Or I wake up because I don’t remember setting the alarm. I get out of bed to check it, then remember I don’t have to be anywhere in the morning. Then I can’t get back to sleep.

Sometimes, the opposite happens. Recently, I slept through the night. When I woke in the morning I thought, “Wow! I slept to through the night.” My next thought was, “Dang! I didn’t get to enjoy it because I slept through it.”

And sometimes God uses my wakefulness to speak to me, like he can finally get my attention. The other day, I woke at 5:00 AM. I prayed, “Lord, please give me another hour of sleep. Maybe even an hour and a half.” I snuggled under the blanket and comforter and closed my eyes. And immediately opened them as he proceeded to answer a prayer I’d said awhile ago.

For the last year, I’ve brooded on whether I should keep writing. Rejection after rejection weighed on me. I’d start a story and it would peter out. I’d revisit an earlier effort and there was no spark. Back in September, I shared this dilemma with Rene Gutteridge. Her advice was to ask God what He wanted me to write, because my fiction stream seemed to have dried up.

So, I did. It felt like my prayer got no higher than the ceiling.

Then came the morning of waking up at 5 AM. Instead of another hour’s sleep, God laid out an agenda for me. First, he gave me the name of a specific agent He wanted me to submit a proposal to. Then He directed me to the Christian Writer’s Market Guide and other resources to seek out other agents. Then He showed me two organizations to join to expand my editing and coaching ministries. Finally, He pointed out I needed to get back into the community of writers by attending conferences and workshops and seeking writers group, including online groups.

What I heard Him say was I’m not done as a writer. Yet. Even at my age. Chronology means nothing to Him. He could use Abraham when the man was 100. He can use me and you.

And if you’re on the far side of sixty, or even eighty or ninety, He wants to use you too in some way.

So, the next time you wake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, follow the example of young Samuel who said, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:9 NLT)