Sleep Soundly During the Storms of Life

July 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

208868304_5b39309e45_oI’ve never been one to fall asleep immediately when my head touches the pillow beneath it. For as long as I can remember I’ve always needed to either read, listen to something on headphones, or in some cases when I’ve owned a TV, watch it while laying in bed while my eyelids compete with each other to see which one could drop fastest.

Since I’m a light sleeper, it’s always been difficult for me to fall asleep immediately without the help of either a fan, ear plugs, or a radio to block out external noises. For these reasons I’ve heard a great deal of preaching mp3s over the years while laying in bed dosing off.

The day that Lili took her second home pregnancy test and it showed us that she was indeed pregnant as we were starting to suspect, I was quite frightened, to be honest. How could this be happening, God? You know I don’t really have enough income or support for this just yet, and we’ve been careful and using precautions!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been looking forward to having kids one day, we just wanted to enjoy married life for a year or two first since we’re marrying later in life than most do, and the odds of having empty nest years are slimmer.

That Saturday night a few weeks ago when we found out, I just couldn’t sleep. I was scared. I had a lot of questions and preoccupations running through my head. Things like how I’m no longer needing to worry about just what I will eat, but two other people. I wanted to transition into this change one person at a time. First, my wife, then, my kids. The pace seems to be coming faster than I was finding myself ready for. Usually other people in this situation have a little bit more income than I do.

A little.

In the days that followed we started telling a few others and each of them were excited. Nobody shared the same “concerns” as I did. In fact most people said they knew we’d get pregnant fast, and have a kid a year later. Considering that these were the same people who had prophetic words that Lili and I would become more than friends and start dating back in late 2011, I’ll give them some credit. But still, I didn’t sleep well at first, to say the least!

We All Have Stress In Life

Photo credit: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/stress-management/how-to-relieve-stress-in-daily-life.htm

Photo credit: http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/stress-management/how-to-relieve-stress-in-daily-life.htm

Apparently my reaction as a husband and father-to-be can be pretty normal. People encouraged me personally that God will provide, since He clearly doesn’t think we’re unready or else He wouldn’t have bi-passed our birth control methods to give us this gift. Still, I had — and still have — a lot of work to be done in my inner man to develop peace.

I immediately went back to my own book on Increasing Your Faith. This is not to promote it here, but to admit that in the last few weeks there have been some additional pages added to it to reflect things I’m learning, such as having a good night’s sleep to help get rid of worry. Since I wrote that book to minister to myself in the months leading up to my wedding, it wound up getting a slight expansion now with the latest opportunity for me to put my trust in God and have faith in Him to provide and show me what to do.

My Personal Cure for Insomnia

One of the go-to people whose teachings I put on my iPod and listen to in order to stir up my faith is Dave Roberson, author of the quintessential book on praying in tongues. I started listening to a 6 message series of his I’ve had in my iTunes for years but had never gotten around to listening to. This is easy to do when you’ve got gigabytes of teaching on your computer from just one preacher!

The series, perfectly timed for my life, are called Peace, the Aggressive Weapon of God. I had to listen to these messages several times each, whether laying in bed or while going on walks while running errands, but mostly while laying in bed unable to sleep. Now I’m starting to put into practice in a newer way trusting in God and resting in Him, only in this case, literally resting. Like, not being kept awake from thinking about all my worries or problems, which, now, I don’t really feel like I even have.

There have been studies that have shown how stress causes health problems, and likewise studies showing how laughter can help improve someone’s health, and Dave shares great stories in these messages that I’d have to verify. Suffice it to say there’s definitely a relationship between our emotions and our physical health, I know that from experience. If not, then I would have had a heart attack already with my vegetable-free diet I’ve lived on over the years. My secret to a healthy life has been a whole lot of episodes of The Office, but we’re talking about sleeping in this post. At any rate, how much more so it’s important to make sure our inner man is well established, and this will also prove a positive impact on our outer man. Wash the inside of the cup, the outside will be clean also.

Heavy Sleeping in the Bible

In the well-known story of Jesus sleeping in the boat, we need to be reminded that Jesus was not just sleeping because, perhaps, he was a heavy sleeper and a storm wasn’t enough to wake Him. It wasn’t because He didn’t get sleep that day and was wiped out from praying for lots of sick people and now he “could sleep through anything”. We need to keep in mind that his entourage, the disciples, consisted of some professional fishermen. They have been in a few storms during their lives, but yet here they were worried they were all going to die. That’s a bad storm!

disciples_jesus_storm_boat1

Jesus sleeping in the boat. Artist credit: unknown

Jesus was not suicidal and unconcerned about capsizing and sinking to the bottom of a lake. Being in very nature God, He knew something the disciples didn’t seem to know:  everything was going to be fine. The storm would not result in death, and they would all live.

As a result, the Son of God, unconcerned, was able to sleep through a raging storm.

Sleeping in the Midst of Battle

King David penned the third Psalm during events that took place between 2 Samuel 15 – 19, when his own son Absalom pulled a coup d’etat and took over his kingdom for a brief time. When David finally discovered the plot against him, he fled Jerusalem with his servants and a remnant of faithful followers. As David walked up the Mount of Olives he wept openly as he was deeply grieved because of the betrayal by his beloved son Absalom.

Sounds stressful.

It was during this time David said something from the depths of his being, “Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing” (2 Sam.16:12). Psalm 3 serves as a bit of a diary into David’s prayer life as he penned these words one morning during the anguish he was feeling during this exile:

I lie down and sleep;

I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear though tens of thousands

assail me on every side. (Psalm 3:5-6)

Despite all that was going on in his life, the betrayals not just within his own family, but his long time generals and aides were now defecting to his son, with only a faithful remnant sticking with him, his enemies boasted God has forsaken him (v.2).  Despite all this, David was able to sleep soundly. Why? The Lord sustained him (v. 5).

I think that this is what Paul was describing in Phil.4:6-7,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It is a supernatural peace that only God can supply. It doesn’t make sense. You can look at the problems in your life, and for no natural reason just have complete peace and sleep soundly. It truly does transcend all understanding, because other people may look at your life, and think you’re going through a perfectly understandable challenge and not understand with their natural senses how you could be holding up so well. I’m sure Paul probably began by worshipping God, recalling God’s character, remembering all that God had done for Him in the past, as well as what God has promised for the future. At least that’s what I’d think he did because that’s what I’ve been doing.

And it works.

The God Who Never Sleeps or Slumbers

In my favourite book of the entire Bible, the Song of Solomon, I also see another aspect of this played out in a more subtle way. Midway through the book, immediately after what is commonly interpreted as their wedding, the Shulamite Bride, or a type of Bride of Christ, the Church, is half asleep or half awake when she hears her lover, the groom at the door (Sg 5:2). At first she doesn’t answer, but by the time she gets to the door, he’s long gone (Sg. 5:6).

Many read this through a lens of rebellion and think that her sleeping here is indicative of backsliding and not answering when Jesus is knocking. However, others, like my mentor and friend SJ Hill have compelled me to believe she is merely at a stage in her maturity where she can rest and trust and is awoken by him. Jesus, our Bridegroom God never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:4) and ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25),  like when His disciples in the garden of Eden the night before His crucifixion who couldn’t stay awake one hour while He prayed so fervently that his sweat was like drops of blood.

Photo credit: Flickr creative commons license.

Photo credit: Flickr creative commons license.

It’s believed by some that, the Bride here in the song is resting while he “takes care of things” during the night in a similar way that in most cultures throughout the ages, it’s typically the man who is the provider who looks after his wife and family. Likewise, our source of provision is our heavenly bridegroom, Jesus Christ. All our needs are met in Him. He has our best interest in mind, even if and when we feel like He doesn’t or isn’t working things out on our timetable or in our way.

With that in mind, when I access that place in my inner man that has the peace that transcends all human understanding, where I can’t accomplish what I need accomplished on my own but only with the trust in my “head covering” to do it all for me, I can rest easy.

If you’re having difficulties sleeping lately or worry has consumed you, give your cares to the Lord and let Him fight your battles for you.

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Steve Bremner

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Steve Bremner is a Canadian missionary to Peru, who is called to raise up disciples who flow in the power of the Holy Spirit within a missional community named Oikos. He is passionate about blogging and podcasting, and is general editor of Fire Press, and also produces & co-hosts its podcast called Fire On Your Head. If you like Steve's blog, you'll also like his Kindle books.