Sleep is sound and deep when you know God is watching out for you.
I had a hard time falling asleep the other night. Sleep should have come quickly and that made it all the more frustrating. If exercise is to help you sleep better, I should have blitzed as soon as my head hit the pillow. I have worked hard the last few days preparing my office to be painted. I had also taken a mile walk after supper. Besides, one bad night’s sleep should guarantee you’ll sleep better the next night, right? I had been awake since 4AM, anticipating my day and, I admit, worrying about some things. All day, I dragged, my eyes heavy and aching from lack of sleep. Two cat naps revived me enough to keep going, but by 10PM, I was ready to go to sleep.
Have you ever started to drift off then, just as you feel yourself slipping into unconsciousness, you jolt awake, then you can’t get back to sleep? That’s what happened to me. Wide awake at 11:30. Bummer. And you know what was keeping me awake then? I was tense. I so wanted a good night’s sleep so I could function well the next day. I couldn’t go to sleep because I was worried I wouldn’t sleep.
Our bodies need to sleep in order to function. For some, sleep is an escape from the troubles of the day. It’s refreshing to think that tomorrow, in God’s eyes, the slate is wiped clean and I get yet another chance at this thing called life. Lamentations 3:22,23 reminds me that God’s mercies are new every morning. Whew, I’m so glad. Sleep is also a release of consciousness, a letting go of control. My brain was way too active that night. Maybe that’s the writer in me. But there have been days where, just as I am about to fall asleep, I realize that for the next so many hours, I will be out of touch with my world. For a brief instant, that is a rather scary thought and something in me fights the sleep overcoming my body.
Do you ever do that?
In those moments, two wonderful Bible verses remind me that I don’t have to be in control, I never was in control to begin with and I can let life go for a few hours because God is infinitely more qualified to control the world than I am. He will manage just fine without me. For that matter, He manages during the day just fine without me too, even when I try to meddle in His business!
One of my family’s favorite Bible chapters is Psalm 121. Within those reassuring words comes God’s promise of help and protection:
“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”
Here’s the part that helps me sleep:
“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
God’s watchfulness goes beyond me. He is watching over my entire sleeping community, my church family (the New Testament equivalent of Israel), and even the entire country. Someone is on patrol. Nothing will happen during the night without His knowledge or permission.
Psalm 4:8 says,
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Norman Rockwell, the famed artist of the Saturday Evening Post covers, drew a quartet of pictures called, “The Four Freedoms.” One freedom America is blessed to have is the Freedom From Fear.” Think about that. Because our nation enjoys the peace that we do, except in limited pockets of our country, we live in relative safety. We don’t have to fear stepping outside our doors. We can shop at our local stores without even considering that someone else might decide it will be our last shopping trip. Merely locking our doors at night makes us feel safer. We don’t have to fear shrapnel landing on our pillows, bombs blowing up our home or police storming through our doors in the middle of the nights, confiscating our possessions and attacking our children. It’s not 100% guaranteed but it’s much better than in other countries.
Even if those dangers did lurk in the dark, God’s promise of protection is still true. “I will both lie down and sleep, for you ALONE, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” The story of Jesus calming the storm always amazed me. You know what gets me the most about that story? The part when Jesus fell asleep in the boat. As the Son of God, He knew that storm was coming. Anyone living near the Sea of Galilee knew storms could pop up at any time. Jesus was probably one of the few people who could fall asleep in a boat on the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus could sleep even in the middle of a storm because He knew who was in charge.
Walter Wangerin, in his book, Whole Prayer, told how his family prayed the same prayer every morning. In it, they prayed,
“I thank thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, thy dear son, that thou has kept me this night from all harm and danger.”
Then, at night, the parents would lead the children again:
“. . . graciously keep me this night. For into thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things.”
When He who can sleep in the bottom of a boat during an oncoming storm because He has power over that storm is at the helm of my life, I can sleep in peace, knowing that He alone will keep me safe. I can commend my body, soul and all things to Him because I can trust Him to watch over me and mine.