Thursday, June 22, 2006

sleep for the night

In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Psalm 127:2 (TNIV)

God made the night time on the first day (Genesis 1). We want to thank the Lord for the night time (Neil Diamond). Though some of us have worked or do work third shift ("nights"). Science has indicated that there is the release of melatonin (I believe it it) in our bodies at night, which is depreciated if we turn on a light (to go to the "bathroom"). This is to help us sleep. Poor third shifters don't get that, being in artificial light during the night. And such is not released during the day. All of this, according to science- whatever water it may, or may not hold.

Life has its built in rhythm and routine that comes with it for us humans from God. Even Jesus, just as human as the rest of us, had to sleep. He grew tired. Slept at night. Often times got up early to get away to spend time with the Father, before the others (his disciples) would arise.

Paul sometimes encountered sleepless nights (2 Corinthians). One time Eutychus paid for it, as Paul went on and on in his preaching. Of course, in that case, we know his life was revived in answer to prayer. (Acts) So sleepless nights are not anathema with God. Sometimes it is a part of how one serves God. Though, surely it should be as an exception to the rule.

I love sleep. But I just don't get around to doing it at times. Then there will be that day, when, besides visiting with my wife and daughter, I do little more than sleep. And I wake up rejuvenated. I've learned to function on lack of sleep, but I am closer to being irritable, and especially much more prone to feeling low, after my morning coffee high.

Your old men will dream dreams (Acts 2). Now that could be a ministry(?). I met Charles Colson in a dream last night. Inspiring. And one of the few dreams I remember. A man who was positive and busy in works of the kingdom. Must have been related to what I was saying in the evening about living as those of another kingdom. I'm not much into dreams or a believer in dreams meaning much. I guess that's coming (ha). Certainly dreams do have a significant part in Scripture, from Jacob (really beginning with Abraham) on.

What about you? What blessings or thoughts do you have about sleep?


John Frye said...

I am finding that the older I get the more I need to sleep well. I also use to be a "night owl" reading late into the night. Now I go to bed quite early (compared to what my pattern use to be). And I'm now an early riser. I do think our bodies need rhythms of life, too.

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks. Yeah, you're surely right. My wife still working nights means her sleep rhythm is inevitably off as well. I remember a professor in seminary kind of downplaying lack of sleep, saying that the body has a way of catching up when needed. Of course that's a chronic problem with many seminarians, and probably the professors as well.

Interestingly (to me) John Wesley was known for being punctual in getting to bed early and rising early, and that may have contributed to his longer (and useful, active) life span. George Whitefield, on the other hand, was known for his excesses (for lack of the better word, I just can't remember the word I think my mind is fishing for, need a thesaurus, I guess) in staying up long hours, then sleeping long hours. That may have contributed to his considerably shorter life span.

Becky said...

Believe it or not, once I hit my early twenties I started needing more sleep. No more all-nighters for me!

If I have a decision to make, I often sleep on it and make the decision the next day. There's something about pressure that sleep helps to defuse, and I find that I make better decisions and write better papers.

Allan R. Bevere said...

When I am feeling exhausted, which is most of the time, I am reminded that when such tiredness is the result of being faithful to God's purposes for the day, such fatigue also feels fulfilling.

The sleep that results is very restful.

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks so much for your wise words. I wish I would have heard and heeded such counsel years ago. Both avoiding all-nighters and sleeping on an issue/decision until the next day, ought to be standard fare for us. At least I could have avoided, more easily, a mistake or two I've made in the past.

Ted Gossard said...

Great point. There is certainly a healthy toiling and tiredness (Proverbs). When the work is sensed and acknowledged to be good, surely that toil and tiredness is blessed. And so is the needed rest. What a blessing sleep is!

Thanks so much for your thoughts.

JP Anderson said...

I once heard we will sleep 20 years of our life. It was Dr R Paul Stevens formerly of Regent College who breached the idea of a Theolgoy of Sleep. He would argue that we are to "think Theologically" about all of life - including sleep. It would be great one Sunday to have pastor share his reflection on sleep in the Christian life with takeaways to consider in our perspective on the manner.

I have recently been going through very stressful times and my sleep has gone nutty. Random wake ups at crazy hours are tell tale signs of an imbalance. Sleep is a good litmus test, in this case, of how you are tackling the pressures of life. JP


Ted Gossard said...

Very interesting. I agree. How often have we heard thoughts on sleep from a pastor or teacher? And a theology of sleep!? Fascinating.

I sleep well, myself, but probably not long enough. Then I'm often sleepy during the day (in goes the caffeine).

Blessings on you with reference to the challenges and stresses you are facing!