|The first task of every day–at least for most of us–is to get some sleep.|
That may sound strange, if you are thinking that your day begins when the sun comes up or when the alarm clock goes off or when Starbucks opens. But the ancient rhythm of days, all the way back to the beginning of time, is different than that.
In the creation account in the opening pages of Genesis the order of the day is described this way: “And there was evening and there was morning–the first day.” (Gen. 1:5) That is, each day in creation began with evening. Later, we know that in Jewish life, the Sabbath began not at sunup but at sundown.
The late pastor and author Eugene Peterson wrote that in placing the night before the day the Biblical writers help us to remember that everything doesn’t depend on us. We go to sleep, God goes to work. The world keeps spinning, tides ebb and flow, and life goes on even though we are not here to superintend any of it. We are not in control, but He is.
“My soul finds rest in God alone,” wrote the psalmist, and sleep is one of the ways that we find that soul rest. As we lay our heads down to sleep at night, in a strange way we do so as an act of faith. We are recognizing our part in this world, but we are sure to turn over the reins of our lives to Him and rest.
I read this week that people who lead spiritual retreats say the number one barrier for people trying to devote themselves to their prayer lives is fatigue. And I would think that also applies to all areas of our devotional lives.
And this is not a new problem. Remember what happened to the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus wanted them to pray? They were so tired they went to sleep. Another time, when they were on a boat in a storm and Jesus was sleeping, they were wide awake with worry and fear. “How can you sleep now?” they asked Jesus. Their problem was that they slept when they should have been awake, and stayed awake when they should have slept. We might call that a sleep disorder.
As John Ortberg writes, planning and arranging to get enough sleep is an act of discipleship. And that is my point: often we are not prepared to “go deeper” in our walk with Christ quite simply because we are too worn out and pulled in too many directions to do so. We have to simplify our lives, eliminate hurry, slow down the RPM’s a bit and get some rest before we are even able to fully focus our attention and devotion on Him.
So here’s a pastoral call to get some sleep, not as an end in itself, but so that you can spend your waking hours “pressing on” toward the high calling Jesus has for your life. You can lay your head down at the beginning of your day–at night–knowing that God is in control and He can be trusted, and then wake up trusting Him with every minute of your day. I promise you won’t regret it.
What a joy and privilege it is to be your pastor. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.