Friday, April 27, 2007

God Vs. Sleep

"Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you."--Ephes. 5:14 (NIV)

Sleep. That's really where my greatest battle lies. I love to sleep. I'm not a morning person by nature. Before kids, I could, and often would, sleep til noon and love every second of that pure, blissful laziness. Ever since I had kids, however, it seems that I can never get enough of it. Like I am constantly chasing after some unattainable dream of, well, sweet dreams. I'm lucky if I can manage to steal 4 hours of unbroken, uninterrupted sleep these days.

The world will tell you that a good night's sleep needs to be a top priority. But at what expense? Studies tell us that the reason we're so stressed, so tired, so anxious, because Americans just aren't getting enough sleep. But the Bible has some pretty interesting things to say about sleep. Like this one:

So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
poverty your permanent houseguest!--Proverbs 6:9-11 (Msg)

Sound harsh? It's kind of offensive at first glance, isn't it? Trust me, no one hates this verse more than I do! But does God hate sleep? Does He hate me because I love to sleep? No!!! Look at this:

Don't you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?--Psalm 127:2 (Msg)

God is so good, and He wants us to get our proper rest. I think it's more a question of what am I putting first, God or sleep? What has a higher priority in my life? I tend to think that if only I could get enough sleep, then I could wake up early, then I could make some time in the morning for prayer and Bible study, then my whole day will be perfect, etc., etc. See where my emphasis lies? The sleep part of the equation. I have to have these perfect conditions in order to make God a priority in my life. And sleep typically comes first for me. I lay my little head down on my little pillow and bow down to my little sleep god. I forget about that whole "seek ye first" thing where Jesus said that all our other needs, absolutely everything else--food, clothing, shelter, and yes, even sleep--would be added to our lives if we are seeking Him first.

I'm afraid this isn't a very popular idea, especially considering how incredibly busy we are these days. But no matter how much I think I need sleep, or even deserve it--how much more do I need God?

My baby boy woke me up the other morning at 4 am. So we sat up together and watched a little Joyce Meyer. And lo and behold, her whole segment was about making time with God a priority in your life. So after it was over and I got my son back to sleep, I was literally faced with the dilemma of either going back to sleep or staying up to spend some much needed prayer time. I took a hard look at what I really wanted to do. My tired mind, body, and eyes were telling me, "Go back to bed!!" While my beat-up heart and my broken spirit were hungry and thirsty for the love, the joy, the peace, the patience, the kindness, the goodness, the gentleness, and the self-control that my day requires, and that, without His help, I frankly just don't have.

Let the words of King David ring true in your heart, as they have been in mine lately, and be challenged to renew your commitment to making God your number one priority. It is a sacrifice, but one that you can be sure He will bless in more ways than you can even begin to imagine.

He swore an oath to the Lord
and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
"I will not enter my house
or go to my bed--
I will allow no sleep to my eyes,
no slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob."--Psalm 132:2-5 (NIV)


Wes W. said...

Okay, Ange, this is a little harsh for us other sleep-deprived mothers out there. I was only up three times last night - a great night! But I know the struggle. God gave us physical bodies and we are finite creatures. He gave us our limitations. So I hope He has sympathy with those limitations. But also, He is the Bread that I can eat and never go hungry and the Water I can drink and never be thirsty again, so I kinda need that too, no? Jesus is a great example because you catch Him eating, drinking and NAPPING! But He also had a habit of saying, "later - I've gotta go pray -alone." One thing I have done lately is stick the girls in the car, hit Starbucks (latte and scone for me, pumpkin bread for them) and then drive into the country to let the girls look at the cows and horse farms while I crank up a sermon by Tony on my ipod. By the end of the drive I am calmer, less hungry physically and spiritually, and I think a better mom the rest of the day. Although I might have yelled, "Quiet time!!!" a few times at my kids during the drive. Sometimes I am also under the illusion that TV or a book might reboost me more than time with God - not true! Looking for rest in all the wrong places. Anyway, I feel ya, girl. It's our fiery trial at this time in our lives.

Love you.

Angela said...

No condemnation, love! I'm certainly not saying that God doesn't want to give us our rest. On the contrary. I am more commenting on my tendency to put sleep as the higher priority. It is especially hard during these months when the little ones aren't sleeping through the night. There is always mercy and grace. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 40:11
"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." Lord knows I need to be gently lead at this point in my life. This is probably the hardest season in my life that I've ever been in. I've never felt so out of control and so out of balance in absolutely every area!! "Lord, have mercy!" and "God, give me grace!" are two of my favorite prayers these days. I think it's just about knowing what you can Him, you know? I heard once that John Wesley's mother, Susanna, who had 19 children!!!!!, would pull her apron over her head to pray. :) That signaled to the family to leave her alone. That was her "quiet time"! I would imagine with 19 children you just do what you can. I can't even imagine.

Wes W. said...

absolutely no condemnation taken! - I was just joshing with you. Ribbing ya. I totally agreed with your post. I wanted to yell, "Preach!" (But I am not a large black woman so I did not.) And girl, I can really relate. I'll pray for your sleep - and your time with the Lord, if you'll pray for mine.

Angela said...

Texting is such an imperfect form of communication!!! I thought you might be ribbing me, but I just wanted to be sure I hadn't heaped any guilt onto you. Thanks for clarifying!! And if anyone can yell "Preach" and get away with it, Erin--it would totally be you, even if you aren't large or black. ;)

Angie Hipps said...

Wow, you totally read my mail, Angela. This has been a serious area of struggle for me that last year or so (and my youngin's aren't getting up in the middle of the night). I really appreciate the Bible verses that you quoted. I will certainly be praying for you, and hopefully I will see some breakthough while I am lifting you up. Thanks for your courage of sharing this struggle so publicly.

Love you,

Wes W. said...

Guess what?! I will not be going to bed early tonight(as I LOVE to do) but I will be staying out until at least 10:00 attending a Ravi Zacharias conference! I am very excited!! But, in reference to our discussion, I have to admit that I almost didn't sign up when I found out it was going to last until 10:00!! That's how much I love getting my 8 to 9 hours. Wes looked at me in disbelief and said he thought I could handle it:) My seeker/almost believer friend, Lara is going with me. As for texting being imperfect, that is true, Ange - but I'll take it as it allows me to know my dear friend's thoughts even though we are hundreds of miles away:)