Sleeping In(to) God’s Good Purposes
The start of a New Year is often taken as an opportunity to do some things differently, and I’ve included a few new practices in my life recently as well. A prayer journal, a re-commitment to exercise regularly, blogging and interacting more on social media – all are things I’ve initiated (or re-started) this year in response to God’s leading.
But as 2017 drew near I realized that to give myself to these I needed to first sit down and figure out when I was going to stop, and how.
Most of the time when we talk about stopping or rest in the church it (rightly) centers around keeping “Sabbath” – a day we cease working in order to honor God, remember and celebrate all He’s done with His people, feast and rest. I’d like to narrow this down and focus on one aspect (rest), and more specifically sleep.
When sleep gets a bad rap
Reading Proverbs 6:6-11 can make me a little nervous. I don’t want to be called a “sluggard”, and I definitely don’t want that thief “poverty” coming around my house. Most likely neither do you. So we work. Hard. And that’s a good thing, except when we become so tied to our work we move from “sluggard” to “slave.”
Sleep is our first work
Adam and Eve’s first day began with sleep. To be certain they were blessed and commissioned to be fruitful, increase, fill and rule over creation. But their first act was to sleep. “And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31, emphasis added)
So from the outset we learn that to get in on God’s rhythm for life and to fulfill His good purposes we need a good nights sleep. Which can be a challenge – just one more email, post, or spreadsheet… one more paragraph, page, or chapter. Or maybe it’s conquering one more level in that video game, watching one more episode on Netflix, or clicking one’s way through one last text or Facebook post.
There will always be numerous things that demand our time, energy and attention, and others which would steal it. But we are neither slaves nor victims when it comes to our use of time, for the Spirit God has given is one of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). Not only power for witness and miraculous wonders, but the power to say “no” … the power to ‘power down’ our computers, cell phones, TV’s or game consoles.
Try These for Good Zzzz’s
Michael Hyatt has published a short eBook in which he shares some simple, practical tips for getting the sleep we need. It’s worth the 10-15 minute read, but here are several practices he and others suggest to get a good nights rest:
- Exercise in the morning or afternoon (not at night – that gets your body going instead of winding down).
- Go to bed at or near the same time every night (even on weekends) and allow for 8 hours of sleep (not just 8 hours in bed).
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake after dinner (caffeine keeps you awake, alcohol can disrupt sleep later in the night)
- Establish a bedtime ritual – for example:
- Start dimming the lights and turn off all electronic devices at least an hour before you plan to hit the hay. Hyatt notes one study that indicates the blue light from phones, tablets and computer screens can reduce the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin by as much as 20% if we use them within 2 hours of going to bed.
- Have a warm bath.
- Read something that quiets your mind.
2017 is filled with God-given opportunity and I definitely want to live into the good works He has prepared in advance for me to do. I’m thinking you do too. So let’s embrace the gift of sleep that God has graciously given and make it our first work daily.