I have always admired (even envied) how Jenny sleeps. She sleeps so well. Jenny can sleep for 12 hours straight with one or no breaks at all. She also sleeps very quietly. She makes no sounds at all. I could count with my fingers the few times I’ve heard her snore. You couldn’t even describe that as a snore. More like a wimp of a snore – like a deflated snore. Like gosh, I now have to snore. Jenny also enjoys going to bed at night. You can see her eyes light up when its time to sleep. I usually say to her that she gets ready to go to her throne where she is queen – where she reigns supreme.
On the other hand, I’m a restless sleeper. I must admit I don’t sleep well. I toss and turn a lot. I wake up so many times during the night. By saying I don’t sleep well does not mean that I am troubled. No. Sometimes it’s just ideas running through my head or thoughts about a book I just read before I slept. There things do affect my sleep. And yes, sometimes I’m worried about some things in our lives.
Throughout the bible, God has an uncanny way of speaking to people who are asleep. Why sleep? I think He uses sleep to speak to us because of what sleep does to us. During sleep, God uses dreams and visions to speak to us. I am not an expert in dream interpretation and this blog is not an attempt to decipher dreams. However, during sleep God will speak to us using images, dreams, visions and even audible voices.
Have a look at these bible figures
Adam – When God wanted to make Eve, He put Adam into a deep sleep. (Genesis 2:21)
When God wanted to cut covenant with Abraham, Abraham fell into a deep sleep. (Genesis 15:12)
When God wanted to defend and protect Sarah, He spoke to Abimelech in his sleep (Genesis 20:3)
When God wanted to change the trajectory of Jacob’s life, he did it in his sleep. (Genesis 31: 10-11)
When God wanted to protect Jacob from Laban, he spoke to Laban in a dream. (Genesis 31:24)
When God wanted to reveal to Joseph the plan he had for the future, he spoke to him in his sleep. (Genesis 37:5)
When God wanted to warn pharaoh of the impending famine that was going to engulf his kingdom, he spoke to him while he was asleep. (Genesis 41:7)
When God wanted to bless Solomon, he visited him in his sleep. (1 Kings 3:5)
When God wanted to use Daniel, He spoke to him in a dream while he slept in his bed (Daniel 7:1)
Joseph Jesus’ earthly father was warned by an angel in his sleep that he should flee to Egypt. (Matthew 1:20)
Pilate’s wife was so scared of Jesus because she had a very terrible dream the night before Pilate was to sentence Jesus to death. (Matthew 27:19)
Paul had the Macedonia call in his sleep. (Acts 16:9, 18:9)
Finally Jesus – When God wanted a new creation (the church), he put Jesus to sleep (John 19:30-34)
In the bible, sleep is a picture of coming to the end of yourself. It means that you give up and rest. It means that there is nothing else you can do. It also means you are vulnerable because when you are asleep, you are susceptible to any thing. It can also mean that you are weak and helpless. Have you had one of those dreams where you are unable to move or say anything?
In the truest sense, sleep means coming to the end of yourself.
Sleep is coming to the end of yourself. Sleep is rest.
Sleeplessness aka restlessness
So then the opposite is true. Sleeplessness is a picture of your self-effort, works, cajoling, hustling, name-dropping, hinting, sweating, DIY, mind games, manipulation, rat race, worrying, self-righteousness, pride etc. Insomnia (the inability to sleep) is on the rise in our generation mostly because we have become such a works – tuned people who believe that if we don’t do it ourselves no one else will do it. Therefore, our ability to just rest and relax has been affected tremendously. With no sleep comes all sorts and manners of sickness and diseases.
We have even invented a new toy to help our kids deal with restlessness. It’s called the fidget spinner. The toy has been advertised as helping people who have trouble with focusing or fidgeting by relieving nervous energy or psychological stress. Restlessness has now become big business.
Joseph Prince the senior pastor of New Creation Church in Singapore says this – “when you rest, God works. When you work, God rests”. This is so true. We rest and sleep and then God works for us. God refuses to work for anyone that is busy.
The world says if you want to get anything done, give it to busy people. Grace says if you want anything done for you, go to sleep. The world says do more, Grace says do nothing – sleep. The world says stay alert. Grace says go to sleep. I will watch over you. Do you see the radically juxtaposition idea of grace?
The world says do more, Grace says do nothing – sleep. The world says stay alert. Grace says go to sleep. I will watch over you.
Sleep aka rest is at the heart of our faith. On the cross, Jesus slept (died, rested, came to the end of himself) and then came forth the new creation, the church and his bride. We rested on Jesus’ finished work for us and were saved. This means that every blessing and promise that we will get from God will come to us via the same truth.
Even heart transformation – by this I mean change of behavior only happens when we rest. If we try to change ourselves by our sheer will then yes change happens but it only lasts for a short while. According to grace, change happens when we do nothing – when we go to sleep. When we rest.
Hey go to sleep. I mean literally. It will do you good. Sleep will refresh you. Sleep will still you. Sleep will slow you down. You are in a rush. Sleep will heal you. Sleep will slow down your aging process. You will live long. Sleep will clear your head and enable you hear the still small voice in the midst of the barrage of noises that are around you.
Have you ever noticed how well little babies sleep? For babies, they have been sleeping in the womb for 9 months. After they are born, all they do is eat and sleep. For young kids they play, have fun and then sleep. They sleep so well that the next morning they wake up with so much energy to play and have fun. Jenny’s niece’s daughter Atiya once awake is a bundle of too much energy. She just can’t keep still.
According to the Australian Koala Foundation, the koala usually sleeps between 18 to 22 hours. They sleep a lot to conserve energy as their diet requires a lot of energy to digest. Sleeping for long periods is a strategy for conserving energy.
What if you went to sleep and really slept? Would your problems go away? No! But you would wake up with a new sense of perspective or even hope for the future. Again, when you rest, God goes to work.
That’s what grace looks like