The Gift of Sleep

moon

Are you often awake in the middle of the night and growing weary of the tiredness?

The lack of rest feels like an enemy, and to some extent, it is. The dysfunction of a fallen world guarantees that we will never have quite enough hours in the day, that our bodies too often won’t cooperate with our desire for rest, and we will feel our physical limitations deeply.

Sleeplessness can leave us vulnerable to temptation and weakness. Modern pundits tell of the consequences of accumulated restlessness on the mind, body, and soul. God has designed our bodies to need rest; the gift of sleep reminds us that we are not sovereign, that we are not omnipotent, but that God is both of these, and more, to us his children.

The gift of sleep is really a gift of dependence, an invitation to trust the God who “will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4) and who “gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). My sovereign God has ordained every night of life just as he has ordained my days. He is the author of the number of times I wake each night, just as he is the author of each one of the days of my life, be they blissful, benign, or “bad.”

Sleeplessness causes us to look away from ourselves — our capacity, our resources, our energy reserve, our mental acumen, our physical strength, and our careful planning and scheming — and it causes us to rely solely on him who “does not faint or grow weary” (Isaiah 40:28). It is there, in the middle of the night, that we find ourselves coming to the end of ourselves. And the end of ourselves is a very good place to be. We will find we are not all-sufficient, that we cannot provide what we need to get through the next day.

God himself is the only All-Sufficient One. He always has been. He always will be. He brings sleeplessness into our lives so that we will remember this. In this place of exhaustion, we find God’s grace to be ever present. [1]

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30–31)

Eagle

40 Gifts of Lent | The Gift of Sleep: Gift 14 | [1] Source for this post is from: desiringGod.orgThe Sovereign Hand of Sleeplessness by Kristin Tabb

The Confession | Sunday Respite 

Sunday Respite
Blessed Jesus, you offered us all your benedictions when you announced…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”
but we have been rich in pride.
“Blessed are those who mourn”
but we have not known much sorrow for our sin.
“Blessed are the meek”
but we are a stiff-necked people.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”
but we are filled to the full with other things.
“Blessed are the merciful”
but we are harsh and impatient.
“Blessed are the pure in heart”
but we have impure hearts.
“Blessed are the peacemakers”
but we have not sought reconciliation.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness”
but our lives do not challenge the world.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you
and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”
but we have hardly made it known that we are yours.

We plead with you to ask the Father to grant us forgiveness and give us the blessedness of your righteousness.

— Matthew 5:2-12 (ESV)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

40 Gifts of Lent  | Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN

Come Away and Rest

Gift 9 Rest

Solitude is very different from a ‘time-out’ from our busy lives. Solitude is the very ground from which community grows. Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other. — Henri Nouwen

You are in God’s care, no matter what.
He is in control, not us.
He knows what being afraid feels like and tells us not to fear.
He has promised you will know His care and comfort.
He will not abandon you in your time of need.
He will let you rest. [1]

Gift 9

40 Gifts of Lent | Come Away and Rest: Gift 9 | [1] Emily Gibson,  https://briarcroft.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/lenten-meditation-i-will-give-you-rest/

When Children Pray

The Prayer

“Where a people prays, there is the church; and where the church is, there is never loneliness.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This evening, my four year old granddaughter asked if she could say the prayer before our meal. As we held hands while she prayed, I was grasped by the sweetness and simplicity of Gods love and grace for her and our family. The faith of a child is rich and unencumbered by worries or unbelief. She set the bar high for some tired weary adults.

I’ve been reading the remarkable biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Mataxas. While reading today, I discovered the context of the above, well known quote. I was surprised that Bonhoeffer said this in response to the prayers of children. I was awed by this primarily because I have devoted most of my work life to children’s ministry and can relate to being grasped by God when children pray.

Bonhoeffer was about to leave Berlin and embark on a new mission as a vicar of a German congregation in Barcelona, Spain. He presided over his last children’s service at the Grunewald church and later wrote this account in his journal:

I spoke about the man with palsy and especially about the assertion that your sins are forgiven, and tried once more to disclose to the children the core of our gospel; they were attentive and perhaps a bit moved, for I spoke, I think, with some emotion. Then came the farewell … The congregational prayer has long sent shivers down my spine, and it did so incomparably more when the group of children, with whom I have spent two years, prayed for me. Where a people prays, there is the church, and where the church is, there is never loneliness. [1]

I am encouraged by the gift of prayer from my granddaughter and yes, even the children that I spend time each week in the beautiful place that is church. Where a people prays … there is never loneliness.

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40 Gifts of Lent | When Children Pray: Gift 8 | [1] Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Mataxas; Chapter 5.

The Song | Sunday Respite 

Sunday Respite 1 Lent

PSALM 100 {The Message}

On your feet now — applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re His people, His well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.

 The whole world is singing a song. It’s the song without words. It’s the song you were created to sing too. We forgot our song long ago, when we turned and ran away from God. But Jesus has come to bring us home to God—and give us back our song. So go on—sing your song! -Sally Lloyd-Jones

Sunday Respite 2 Song

40 Gifts of Lent  | Quotation: Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, Sally Lloyd-Jones; page 28, Sing Your Song

Snippets of Posts and Quotes | Take 4

the-future-is-bright

The Hardest Peace | Mundane Faithfulness

I often fail, I’m often found in weakness and brokenness, but through it all I am met- always met in love. This is not simply my story and journey with cancer. It is a book written to appeal to us all as we meet the bitter edges of life on this side of eternity. In the brokenness of our unmet expectations of life, will we look for Jesus and His abundant love? Or will we tumble into bitterness and anger that leave us utterly self focused and disappointed by the hard in our story each of us are asked to receive. —Kara Tippetts  http://www.mundanefaithfulness.com

On being healed of being a big deal | Deeper Story

I’m learning to take those moments, called “small humiliations”, as gifts.  http://deeperstory.com/on-being-healed-of-being-a-big-deal/  —Micha Boyett

Don’t ever hide your joy | The Beautiful Due

There’ll be days when you’re on high beam joy. Shine on, unapologetically. But if you’re flesh and blood, there’ll be days when you dim your lights a little because you’re having a crappy day or you know someone else is having a crappy day. You can still shine on those days, its just a little dimmer and that’s perfectly alright, sometimes even quite inviting. —John Blase

Study: Working moms’ stress levels linked to ‘mental labor’ | Fox News

“A reminder of the incredible stresses working moms try to manage. A reminder for grace.” http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/08/13/study-working-moms-stress-levels-linked-to-mental-labor/ —Fox News

 The Path Through Pain | Recovery Room

“Pause and consider: in a truthful moment, do you have areas of your life plague with unnerving, breath-quickening, near-crippling anxiety?”   http://deeperstory.com/recovery-room-the-path-through-pain/  —Seth Haines

For anyone who has ever felt alone | Journey Box Media

“With You (I Feel Again)” reflects on how easy it is to be lonely in a crowd. Set to the platinum hit single, “Feel Again” by OneRepublic. Best Video: http://journeyboxmedia.com/with-you  —journeyboxmedia.com

Poetic black and white watercolors | Bored Panda

Linger here. http://www.boredpanda.com/animals-children-black-and-white-watercolor-art-elicia-edijanto/

10 self-defeating thoughts that can wreck your workout | Today

Think of yourself as an inspiration story just waiting to happen. http://www.today.com/health/10-self-defeating-thoughts-can-wreck-your-workout-1D80342643  —today.com/health

Foggy and Fine Days | Barnstorming

The weather and my mood have little connection.I have my foggy and my fine days within me; my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter. (Blaise Pascal) Being lost in the fog is never forever. The sun is always up there somewhere and all will be fine. —Emily Polis Gibson  https://briarcroft.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/foggy-and-fine-days/

Grace Changes Everything

the way you live

“Even though we are now in faith, the heart is always ready to boast itself before God and say, ‘After all, I have … lived so well and done so much that surely He will take this into account.’ We want to haggle with God to make Him regard our life, but it cannot be done. With men you may boast, ‘I have done the best I could…If anything is lacking, I will still try to make recompense,’ but when you come before God, leave all that boasting at home. Remember to appeal from justice into grace. But let anybody try this and he will see and experience how exceedingly hard and bitter a thing it is for I myself have been preaching and cultivating [grace] through reading and writing for almost twenty years and still feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal so with God that I may contribute something so that He will give me His grace in exchange for my holiness. I just cannot get it into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace, yet I know that this is what I should and must do.” – Martin Luther [1]

Grace Changes Everything