Friday, March 28, 2014

O, to sleep

Our Father gives us good gifts.

"If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

One of those gifts is sleep.

There is so much meaning in the following verses. Please consider:

"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep." (Psalm 127:1-2)

First we learn that we are His beloved. Second, He gives sleep to His beloved. It is one of the good gifts. Third, we can do nothing apart from Him.

John Everett Millais, The Somnambulist, 1871
Anyone striving, reaching, or toiling apart from Him will yield nothing, no matter how long they labor and no matter how much sleep they lose. Watchmen can watch all they want but unless the LORD is watching too, they will see nothing. Or if they do, they will be able to prevent nothing. Builders can build all they want but unless the LORD is in it, the endeavor will come to nothing. Anxious toil is not of the LORD. Neither is its mate: anxious rest.

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:30)

Ultimately the verse in Psalms is saying that those who sleep well do so because of the LORD. Not just because He delivered a good gift of sleep, but because they trust Him. Therefore they do not make a habit of unease. They do not worry, therefore they do not become restless at night. Good sleep is a gift and it is from a habitual clean conscience and a characteristic of an obedient soul. Witness the most obedient soul who ever lived. His trust in the LORD was complete and total, and He slept like it.

"And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up..." (Mark 4:37-39a).

Failure to rest can be showing a lack of faith in God’s provision. A soul which trusts in the Lord will reflect that trust in his sleep.

Oh, I know that temporarily there are circumstances which keep us awake at night. A new mother learning to listen for the cry of her baby may have some difficulty sleeping. And so on. But normally, we should be like David,

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." (Psalm 4:8)

If you're not sleeping, reflect on it. Is your toil anxious because it is not of the Lord? Is your sleep uneasy because you need to trust Him more?

"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure." (Psalm 16:9)

His burden is light. Hand your burdens to Him, trust in Him. And sleep well my brothers and sisters.
Photo by Brandon Atkinson, creative commons


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