Monday, September 20

A Good Night's Sleep

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you O Lord make me dwell in safety. --Psalm 4:8

As a child I was taught a familiar bedtime prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

Guide me safely through the night

and wake me with the morning light.

Four simple lines that my lips repeated faithfully for many years. I would fall asleep with an image of one of God's angels tucking me into bed then hovering in the room to keep close watch over me through the night. That image helped me sleep peacefully and I liked the thought of a God who cared about me enough to make sure that he was with me even while I slept.

As I got older I failed to hold onto the profound simplicity of that prayer. I crawled into bed each night thinking not of a guardian angel, but of all the busy things that awaited me the next day. No longer a child, my life was more complex and consequently less peaceful. Occasionally I struggle with insomnia, but when I take time to focus on this verse, I am able to calm my thoughts and get some much needed rest.

Sometimes I wonder if insomnia is more spiritual in nature than physical. Peaceful sleep is unattainable for many (myself sometimes included) because life is too full of things that crowd up the mind and heart, leaving little room for God to come in. At the end of each day, we have all used up the same number of hours. We cannot add a single moment by staying up worrying about the things of tomorrow. By resting in an attitude of quiet peace with the Lord, we can set aside our worries--if only for a few hours--and fill our bodies with the peace that comes from trusting God.

A good night's sleep is more than just crawling into bed for a few hours. Even while our bodies lie still, our brains are engaged, processing the day's events, and working to help us rebound from stress. We can be assured that God holds us close to him as we sleep. He allows us to sleep in peace and in safety.



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