You want a great day, and you plan for it. But so much is reliant on actually having a good sleep. This is because God has always meant for the day to begin when your head hits the pillow and you rest in Gods trusting embrace.
There is a rhythm to our life.
Evening, morning, one day.
Sleep begins our day and is where we invite God to go ahead of us and move mountains while we rest.
I have a habituated way of thinking about how I view my day and the role of sleep. The beginning of the day starts when I wake up. The end of the day is when I go to sleep.
My life, and I’m guessing yours too, is focused on the conscious, awake hours. The time when I am (supposedly) in control of what happens.
I wonder though if we have got it all wrong.
When describing a day, we usually define it by periods of morning, afternoon and evening.
In the creation story though, we find God defining a day differently.
And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
This pattern is repeated for the next six days.
So a day was to begin in the evening. A time when it was both dark, making it difficult to work, and also a time of rest. Therefore our ability to create and to work was to come out of a state of being rested.
Sleep is a trusting prayer
Eugene Peterson has written an exquisite piece about sleep that I would like to share with you.
Day is the basic unit of God’s creative work; evening is the beginning of that day. It is the onset of God speaking light, stars, earth, vegetation, animals, man, woman into being. But it is also the time when we quit our activity and go to sleep.
When it is evening ” I lay me down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul to keep” and drift off into unconsciousness for the next six or eight or ten hours a state in which I am absolutely nonproductive and have no cash value.
The Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work. As we sleep he develops his covenant. We wake and are called out to participate in God’s creative action.
We wake into a world we didn’t make, into a salvation we didn’t earn.
Evening: God begins, without our help, his creative day.
Morning: God calls us to enjoy and share and develop the work he initiated.
As this biblical rhythm works in me, I also discover something else: when I quit my day’s work, nothing essential stops. I prepare for sleep not with a feeling of exhausted frustration because there is so much yet undone and unfinished, but with expectancy.
The day is about to begin!
God’s genesis words are about to be spoken again. During the hours of my sleep, how will he prepare to use my obedience, service, and speech when morning breaks?
I go to sleep to get out of the way for awhile.
While we sleep, great and marvelous things, far beyond our capacities to invent or engineer, are in process – the moon making seasons, the lion roaring for its prey, the earthworms aerating the earth, the stars turning in their courses, the proteins repairing our muscles, our dreaming brains restoring a deeper sanity beneath the gossip and scheming of our waking hours.
Eugene Peterson: Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity
An interesting little term when you begin to investigate the world of sleep research is the term ‘Sleep Hygiene.’
It refers to the habits that help you to have a good night’s sleep. Habits such as avoiding drinking caffeine, keeping regular sleeping hours, exercise and many more.
I wonder if we had a regular spiritual exercise at night, at the end of one day and the beginning of the next, if this would grow a deeper more satisfying sleep.
Perhaps we are out of sync to the rhythm of Gods plan for his creation.
Quotes to Consider
- The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep. E. Joseph Cossman
- Sleep is God’s contrivance for giving us the help he cannot get into us when we are awake. George Macdonald
- It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it. John Steinbeck
- A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book. Irish Proverb
Questions to answer
- What helps you get a good nights rest?
- What are the challenges for you from reading this post?
- Having the beginning of the day when you go to sleep is contrary to our thinking. How would you explain this idea to someone else?
Image cc: maxime caron