Most of us have a battle with sleep in one way or another. Some of us suffer from insomnia, wrestling with falling asleep or staying asleep, tossing and turning on the wrestling mat of our mattress with the opponent named Insomnia, who often wins.
Others of us resist sleeping, like a little child fighting bedtime. We’ve bought into the culture’s belief that there is too much to do and that we’re too important to waste much time in the unproductive state of sleep.
We even feel guilty taking a nap. A friend of mine put a poster on Facebook stating, “Daniel slept in a lion’s den. Peter slept in a prison. Jesus slept in a storm. No matter your circumstances, you can take a nap!”
It’s time for a fresh look at the value of rest and sleep! The truth of the matter is that God designed us to rest and sleep. In God’s description of His creating the universe in the book of Genesis He includes the interesting detail that at the end of the creative process He “rested” from His work. It’s not that God needed to recuperate but that He wanted to give us an example to follow.
One of the Ten Commandments is a command from God for us to take one day off each week to rest. Resting must be really important to make it into the top ten commands from God! “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.” (Exodus 20:8-10a) Yes, we’re commanded to rest!
A personal testimony here: My father, an Iowa farmer, never worked his fields on Sunday. He had to feed and water the farm animals and milk the cows on Sunday, but He never ever worked the fields. I learned from his example. I find it very liberating to rest and take it easy after church on Sunday, even taking a nap, being guilt-free for not mowing the lawn or tackling a home improvement project. Rather than seeing it as a legalistic law I find it freeing!
I think one reason God designed us to need rest and sleep is that it’s humbling. By stopping our work or by lying down to temporarily go unconscious with a nap or a night’s sleep we’re reminding ourselves that the world can get along just fine without us, at least for a little while. It’s an opportunity to put our trust in God, in essence saying to Him, “God, I know you don’t need to slumber or sleep so I’m putting everything in your hands while I do so.”
Resting and sleeping is a way to express our faith and trust in God. It’s also a confession of our limits.
One way we can embrace the fullness of life is to find value and delight in rest and sleep! Trust Him, He will stay awake and take care of things. Sweet dreams!
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8