Thinking Out Loud

August 30, 2012

Having Trouble Sleeping?

zzzzzzzzzzz — Oh! Are we on?

I believe that the Bible can inform many more areas of life than we give it credit for. And I believe that a big problem many people face but don’t talk about has to do with their sleep life: insomnia, sleep deprivation, etc.

So I was intrigued when Dr. Charles Page asked me about doing a guest post here. At first, I thought he’d do something similar to what’s on his blog — a scriptural study on sleep — which we could run as a Bible study at C201. But then I looked at what he sent me, and decided the issue needs to be raised among a greater audience.  So if this issue touches you read this, or if involves someone you know, send them here today to get the discussion started.

Surrendered Sleep

Living in this nanosecond digital world that never seems to slow down can leave your head spinning. Who has time for sleep? If you snooze – you lose.

Emerging out of our 24/7 lifestyle are issues with sleep and rest that could not even be conceived of in past generations: air traffic controllers falling to sleep on the job, exhausted health care workers having more complications, drivers having accidents falling to sleep at the wheel, sleep disorders reaching epidemic levels. Remember Michael Jackson?

What’s the answer? Sleep Medicine? A new mattress? Sleeping Pills? Herbal remedies? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Polyphasic Sleep? A new internet fad for insomnia? Two cans of Red Bull for breakfast?

Revisiting the truths of God’s word gives us insight to many of these complicated issues involving sleep and rest. I present to you no formulas but rather a Christ centered focus and a biblical framework for making sense of what is becoming one of the biggest issues of our day. As we explore the scriptures several attitudes surface:

A Calm heart:

Jesus modeled the perfect balance between activity and rest. Trusting calmly in the protection and provision of His Father, Jesus slept peacefully in the bow of a ship in a raging tempest. Having the Spirit of Christ within we who believe can rest in the peaceful assurance that God has our back–no matter what storms come our way. Like Jesus, His followers should never lose sleep over worry, fear, loneliness, anxiety, relational tensions or tasks left undone. Based on His unmerited favor, God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves as we sleep, providing for our needs and protecting us from harm’s way.

A Responsive Heart and a Servant’s Heart:

On the flip side, our Lord’s eyes never closed in the garden of Gethsemane. Surrendering to a greater purpose, Jesus prayed and prepared for the suffering of the cross. We typically think that the best way to prepare for a challenging day is to get as much sleep as possible. Ironically, the Lord acted in the reverse. Discipleship sometimes calls for sleeplessness to fulfill God’s purposes and plans for our lives–and the lives of others. It may be as simple as rising early in the morning to listen for God’s leading and prepare for the day.

Have you ever awakened in the still of the night for some unknown reason? Perhaps it’s just some undigested Pizza? Or perhaps—it’s the Lord of the universe waking you up to pray for an unknown trial on the horizon, waking you to serve or a brother in need.

When God calls his followers to give up rest, He also supplies them with mercies that are new every morning. The yoke of exhaustion is easy and the burden of sleeplessness is light when we consider that the Lord is working in and through our lives.

An Enduring Heart:

Sometimes there are no answers for why we suffer with sleep–incurable sleep disorders, the pain of chronic diseases–those “ten thousand sleepless nights” mentioned in a popular song. Perhaps suffering with sleeplessness truly is a blessing in disguise. God’s grace is made perfect in our weakness. However, believers can victoriously endure understanding that heaven is just around the corner. Sleep will no doubt be much lower on our priority list as we experience the eternal presence of Jesus with incorruptible bodies, worshiping in the presence of the saints and the angels. Forget sleep! So whatever sleeplessness believers endure in this world pales in comparison to the glory that shall be revealed when we arrive at our final destination. Insomnia may be a reminder that we are truly not home yet.

It’s all about surrender. As we diligently seek God’s kingdom, prioritizing Him first, He has promised to supply all these things–in our sleep or in our sleeplessness. Surrender your sleep to the One whose eyes never close. All praise to Him–our best thought by day or by night. Waking or sleeping–may his presence be your light.

Dr. Charles Page is a surgeon, author and father of five who enjoys watching sunsets with his wife Joanna in their Texas sized tree house. For a free download of an overview of the spiritual principles of sleep, check out the Surrendered Sleep blog at

http://surrenderedsleep.blogspot.com/

May 25, 2009

Confessions of a Psalm 23 Fan

Filed under: bible, Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:05 pm

I devoted an entire blog post to Psalm 23 back in January, which was actually an encore of a post from the July previous.   I guess I’m a fan.

Truth is, I have major sleep deprivation issues.   I fall asleep okay, but then I wake up after only three or four hours and simply can’t get back.    So I try various techniques — except for just taking a few deep breaths, which always works,  which I forget to do until about an hour has passed — including reciting memorized scriptures in my head such as The Lord’s Prayer, various Psalms and the chorus Paul quotes in Philippians which talks about Christ humbling himself, taking on the form of a servant.  (And last night, a new one, the five points of James MacDonald’s Downpour book and CDs.)

This of course raises the issue of the lost art of scripture memorization.   But we’ve dealt with that before here, also:

You’ve heard the saying, “A generation that does not impart its sacred texts to its children is one generation away from extinction.”  People are seeing this truth playing out in some communities and recognizing the need for some fine tuning.  Keep the media.  Keep the interactives.   Keep the cool music.   But we’ve got to bring back the memory verse, the memory chapter, and the memory Psalm.

The last few days however, I’ve been struck by the incredible complexity of the best known among the Psalms, the one we call number 23.    At three or four in the morning, there are little phrases of this psalm that seem to be nested in such a way that it’s hard to believe that so few verses can contain so many golden nuggets.

If I were not a Christian, I would still have to marvel at these short lines of lyric poetry for their intricacy and beauty.    How can they possibly be ignored?

It’s also the only passage in the Bible — longer than a single verse — that I have memorized two completely different ways.   I once thought that the music piece I knew as “The New 23rd” was taken from the Living Bible, but I now know it was actually written in 1969 by Ralph Carmichael.

Consider the original if you were fortunate enough to memorize it, and then enjoy “The New 23rd” variation.   And try to get some sleep tonight, okay?

Because the Lord is my Shepherd
I have everything that I need.
He lets me rest in meadows green
And leads me beside the quiet stream.
He keeps on giving life to me
And helps me to do what honours Him the most.
Even when walking through the dark valley of death
I will never be afraid
For He is close beside me.
Guarding, guiding all the way
He spreads a feast before me.
In the presence of my enemies
He welcomes me as His special guest.
With blessing overflowing
His goodness and unfailing kindness
Shall be with me all my life
And afterwards I will live with Him
Forever and ever
In His house.

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