It’s not an accident that I am following my tribute to coffee with a meditation about sleep. I usually over-indulge on the former when I don’t pursue enough of the latter. But it’s important for my well-being to keep reminding myself that sleep is a gift.
I heard a preacher years ago (I wish I could remember who it was and give him full credit) talk about how sleep is a gift from God to us in order to remind us that we are not God and we don’t have to be awake all the time. Much like Sabbath, sleep is a loving limitation built into the fabric of life, a Fatherly hand on our shoulder when we keep reaching to try to accomplish more and more. Sleep is a reminder that we are but a whirlwind of dust and breath, and each night, we must “die” in order to rise again with the sun. “…He gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2b) Sleep is a gift from a good, good Father.
My kids hate going to bed. They fight and they fuss and they resist it with all their might, but their mother and I insist on bedtime. We love our girls and we know what they need even better than they do themselves. They need rest. We make them lie down and sleep for their own joy.
And yet somehow, their “dada” still insists that he is superhuman, that he is beyond sleep. This was my habit for far too many years: an endless cycle of caffeine and sugar and entertainment and distraction and work and stress and toil and ache and weariness.
These days, I both love and fear sleep, to be honest. I’m so often tired, and sleep can be a friend. But when I do sleep for any length of time, my body reminds me what the years of poor diet and little exercise and inconsistent sleep have sown into my middle-aged bones, and I wake up with a groan in the morning, stiff and stumbling as I frankenstein my way down the hallway. (Yes, yes, that’s not the monster’s name, I know.) The inflammation in my joints is the price paid for so much foolish insistence on stubborn pseudo-immortality.
Will I learn from my mistakes and start taking better care of myself? I’m starting to, slowly, very slowly. (Pray for me in that regard, if you follow Jesus as I do.)
The best part of sleep is knowing that my God “does not slumber or sleep” (Psalm 121:4). I don’t have to worry or fret about the cares of this life. I can put my head on the pillow knowing that my God is there standing watch, and I can rest in His abundant kindness.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.Psalm 4:8