You’re Getting Sleepy . . . Sleepy

September 10th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 3: 23-26 (NLT)

23 They keep you safe on your way,
      and your feet will not stumble.
 24 You can go to bed without fear;
      you will lie down and sleep soundly.
 25 You need not be afraid of sudden disaster
      or the destruction that comes upon the wicked,
 26 for the Lord is your security.
      He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.

 

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Just last night, I received a text from a student who was dealing with some tough issues in life. Specifically, he was worried about strength and tormented by some reoccurring dreams that were stealing away his peace and denying him nightly rest.  Though I will obviously preserve his privacy, I’m astounded at what our next verse in Proverbs is about today.  Hey man, God may be trying to tell you something!  How cool is that!

Sleep is a fascinating feature of creation.  I’ve often reflected on the nature of our bodies and our world.  In many ways, we’re set up internally with a rechargeable battery that has a limited charge.  For this reason, between one-fourth and one-third of our day’s allotment of time is supposed to be devoted to sleep.  For a world obsessed with productivity and efficiency, this time seems wasted.  Just this week, I watched a commercial for a certain company who’s new slogan is “We never sleep.”  I thought to myself, “Wow, I bet those employees are depressed!

Our bodies and minds were never meant to function in perpetual productivity with no rest.  For that reason, God set us up with a natural “shut down” feature called sleep.  Even as I type this blog on my amazing Mac computer, an annoying little red battery light taunts me from the upper-right hand corner of my screen. If I don’t hook up to AC power in about ten minutes, my computer will “go to sleep” whether I want it to or not. Rest, you see, is an essential, mandatory part of life.

Despite our best efforts through energy drinks, caffeine addictions, and accusations of laziness to those who sleep often, our bodies still require a certain amount of sleep in order to function properly.  In fact, recent research has shown a significant correlation between long-term memory loss and sleep deprivation. Cheating ourselves out of rest for the purpose of greater productivity is actually counter-productive to our goal.  No, our bodies will not give up the right to rest without a fight.

So it’s no surprise that our times of rest are key targets of the enemy.  Take a lesson from Elijah who in one day called fire down out of heaven on Mt. Carmel, killed the prophets of Baal, and restored God’s blessing to Israel.  Three sleepless days later, we find him in a fetal position under a tree asking God to take his life. Wow, that’s some emotional swing!  What did God do?  He sent an angel to feed Elijah and then to put him to sleep. Though we are spiritual beings, we still exist in physical bodies. Thus, we should never underestimate the importance of rest and sleep, as well as the challenges we will face when we miss out on either.

Nightmares or insomnia are definite deterrents to a restful night’s sleep.  We must reconnect our minds with the context of this passage.  The previous few verses dealt with the refreshing nature of common sense and discernment (see previous blog history.)  These features of Godly wisdom are the conditions by which one experiences the benefits described in these verses.

A life completely surrendered to God’s wisdom and direction will allow us to “go to bed without fear” and to “lie down and sleep soundly” (verse 24).  This is not just unconsciousness; this is peace.  This kind of rest originates from a spiritual place and trickles down to touch us physically.  What a premise!  We can lie down and let our fears and anxieties be trumped by the realization that our God is wise and gracious enough to handle life’s issues.  I’m drowsy just thinking about it!

At present, no other example is more effective in my mind than my current nightly routine.  My little Sadie falls asleep in my arms with no fears of intruder, sickness, or catastrophe.  She doesn’t worry about what might happen while she rests or whether or not the next day will be difficult to face.  No, as long as Daddy rocks her to sleep, that’s a good enough guarantee to snore the night away and leave tomorrow’s struggles to tomorrow.

Yeah, but I’m not a little baby.  I can’t rest because of my own weaknesses and worries about my own shortcomings.  I can’t truly rest because I’m not worthy of God’s protection.  It’s my fault!

If these thoughts plague your mind, brace yourself for the next verse.  “You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked for the Lord is your security . . .” (verses 25-26). You may not be perfect, but you can still trust in His “security.”  Like a little child who feels safe beneath a warm blanket, God’s grace is a covering of security that should make your heart feel steady and your eyes feel heavy.  Of course you don’t deserve it!  That’s why you need grace!  So don’t rest in your own ability to be good; sleep soundly in the steady rocking of His merciful arms around you.

Yeah, there are traps set for you tomorrow morning, but God has promised that He is able to “keep your foot from being caught . . . “ (verse 26).  Our perfection is not the condition of His grace; His perfection and our surrender are the only conditions.

So let these promises surround you; breathe them in like soothing nighttime vapors.  Ask God to forgive you.  To strengthen you.  To give you rest and sleep. Then, lie down and close your eyes and let God worry about the “rest.” 

Nighty-night.

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~ by johndriver on September 10, 2008.

3 Responses to “You’re Getting Sleepy . . . Sleepy”

  1. When i was little i was so scared of going to bed. I hated the fact that at a time in the day everyone in my family was asleep, as if i didnt have protection. Just like John was saying your body eventually shuts down. Or i went to my sisters room and slept on the floor to make me feel better. As i got older i started to realize i have more than just my family as protection (hint: God).
    The bad part of getting a good nights rest is that you dont want to get up the next morning. For me, i feel safe in my bed and i really dont want to go out to the world.

    Oh, and that last sentense made me laugh…”rest” real cute John.

  2. When I lost my job three months ago (wow, just realized how long ago that was!), I considered that a “sudden disaster.” I surprised myself at how peaceful I was at the time. After years of training to remain calm on the outside – while scrambling on the inside – could not have explained the peace I felt. It was obviously not from me. I’ll admit that I’ve had some rocky moments where I let worries creep inside, but passages like this one (and many others) delivered, spoken, or read at just the right time have restored my peace. Faith without testing is useless. Knowing and believing that, I take great comfort in the fact that God is my security because of that I can rest easy.

  3. Rest is something I cannot live without. When I do not sleep well, I tend to not do my best at whatever I have the next day. In my spiritual walk, if I’m not rested then I might cause problems with accomplishing something for God. You can never receive all that He has to offer when you are unrested, and maybe do not have a peace in your life. I want to be rested in life because I know that I cannot get through the day without a peace from God. I want to be attentive in knowing that God is protecting me, not half asleep.

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