Since we measure the start of our day from midnight, most of us begin our day by doing nothing. When the day starts, we are asleep (or should be!). Eugene Peterson phrases it this way, "In prep for my day...I go to sleep to get out of the way for a while." Recent studies have advocated the benefits of sleep. It's good for our body. It's good for our mind. It is good for our soul. That last benefit is not from scientific investigation but from the Scripture. Two Psalms explicitly advocate the rightness, even the beauty, that’s found in our sleep. Psalm 127 reminds us that we need not get up early and go to bed late, trying to keep our lives afloat. God gives to His beloved even in their sleep. Psalm 3 echoes the lesson. The author cries out to God about his need, and then he goes to bed and sleeps. He awakens in the morning confident that his prayer has been heard. God is an active parent even as the child snoozes. Much happens during my sleep that I am not aware of. But nothing is more significant than this, "He who neither slumbers of sleeps" actively cares for me, body and soul.
This spiritual principle of God working while I sleep does more than bless my night's rest. It reorders my understanding of the workings of God. God always has the initiative. He is the prime mover of all creation. He is the first agent of His Kingdom. We confess that in theory, but the practice of our Christian lives suggests something else. We are prone to think that God is dependent upon our activity. By the hectic pace of our living and of our churches, one might think that God needs us to be busy, to come up with ideas, to bring His Kingdom into fullness. We have taken the role as the prime agent. We push and pull to make His Kingdom happen. We do ask God to bless our efforts, but it is our efforts that take centre stage. We rarely step back and give room for the hand of God to move. We do not sleep. We do not rest. Our souls are hurried and harried. We pay a price for it.
I am not advocating for carelessness or irresponsibility in our lives, homes or congregations. I am saying that we need not live by frantic grasps for the needs of body, the maturity of our souls and the coming of His Kingdom. We are to live by faith. A faith that is obedient to His commands. A faith that trusts God for every cry. A faith that waits for God to move first. A faith that offers peace - the peace of a sleeping child. I have not found this faith to be easy. I have found it to be necessary.
"Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest."