It’s 1:30am, the middle of the night, and you’re wide awake struggling to sleep. What’s more, you really need to sleep because you have to be up early the next day or you’ve got an important presentation to give at work or you’re speaking at church. It’s tough when you don’t sleep and you have to be up front on public duty, as it were – I’ve been there many times.
I wasn’t sleeping last night because my mind was simply not really wanting to shut-down. I happened to come across a Life Hacker article on ‘reclaiming your rest’ giving some insight into panic attacks and practical ways of combating sleeplessness when you really need to be sleeping! One very practical way I’ve found that does work is to get out of bed, grab a book and a glass of milk and give it 30 minutes and go back. Often times I’ve been woken up because I was simply hungry, especially after a hard session in the gym.
I was reading Hebrews 4 this week which is why the phrase ‘reclaiming rest’ caught my attention last night. The writer to the Hebrews relates the word ‘rest’ with believers who have come to trust and know God and, therefore, unbelievers who haven’t (Heb. 4:3) – i.e. rest is synonymous with salvation and restlessness with being lost. But the reclaiming of our rest in discipleship also includes the child-like faith in a good and kind Father who simply wants his children to be healthy (not just eternally saved) because trying to function well in life on poor or no sleep isn’t healthy.
Sleep debt occurs when you regularly struggle to get enough sleep, whether self-inflicted or not (sometimes we just need to get to bed before Question Time). It’s a term that provokes an image of being out of money and not able to see ends meet. I don’t think our God wants us to live like this. So how can we reclaim rest aside from the practicalities that http://lifehacker.com/why-anxiety-wakes-you-up-at-night-and-how-to-reclaim-y-1665854013 mentions?
Loving God with all of our mind
I read a beautiful quote this week from Dallas Willard that struck me powerfully and made me think again about how I use my mind for His glory:
How does our loving of God with all of our mind (Matthew 22:22) relate to reclaiming our rest? Well, it’s faith, isn’t it? From first to last. How about we put into practice some mental gymnastics by faith, both before bed-time and in bed itself where our focus is on loving Jesus with more of our mind. Willard’s quote invited me to commune with God when my restless head was on the pillow – it invited me to begin to lift my thoughts to Jesus who is closer than our brains our eyes and our nose, literally. Come on!
More than counting sheep
When we meditate on scripture at night when we feel restless, or when we meditate on scripture so that we don’t become restless, we’re doing more than counting sheep. Psalm 1:1-2 says that ‘blessed is the one whose…delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night’. There is a blessing in meditating on the right things. After all, isn’t panic and insomnia sometimes simply meditating on the wrong, life-sapping things?
Reclaiming Rest – Some Scriptures
If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning[a] and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Be blessed and hope this helps to love Him with more of our minds and reclaim the rest that is rightfully ours as his beloved.