Here, in the all-too-early morning of Tuesday, just an hour or two away from sunrise, the task list is finally at a reasonable stopping point. The “out-of-office” message turns on, the laptop closes, and the editor sleeps for a few sweet hours before toddlers jump on him to wake him up to a new day.
I am thankful to put the work email to bed for the rest of the week. Finally.
Tomorrow, you’ll hopefully be hearing from a less-stressed (and hopefully more rested) man. See you then.
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.
I’m not a Sabbatarian, but I have friends who are. They seem happier.
I heard part of a sermon by Alistair Begg recently, in which he described the Lord’s Day sabbath as a time of reading Scripture, praying, reading spiritual books, having spiritual conversations, and enjoying fellowship with your family and fellow believers. He asked his congregation something along the lines of, “When I describe it like that, does that sound appealing to you, and if not, why not?” I think he was assuming most of his congregation would think it sounded boring.
But I gotta admit, after that description, when he asked if it sounded appealing, I responded aloud, “That sounds awesome.”
The last six months have been hard, gang. Good. Full of blessing. But really hard. This season has taken its toll on my health, my family, and my relationships. I’m often exhausted, out of balance, and in need of restoration and recalibration.
I’m not a Sabbatarian. I don’t hold a conviction about it that’s based on the Scriptures. But I have to admit, I’m thinking about Sabbath rest REALLY often these days, because I can recognize one very clear fact: I can’t keep functioning for long when my life has a staccato jazz rhythm of inconsistent sleep and frequent 12-16 hour work days. All the lines are blurring. I’m losing the clear boundaries of work-life and home-life. Things fall apart. The center will not hold.