February 11, 2011
"It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating
the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep."
Psalm 127:2 (ESV)
I restlessly rolled over and squinted sleepily trying to focus my eyes on the bright blue digits still taunting me in the night. The alarm clock on my dresser flashed the awful news:
3:18 AM. Ughhhh!
I had crawled into bed nearly four hours earlier, eager to rejuvenate my body with a sound night's sleep. My ever-full schedule as a wife, mother, daughter, volunteer, neighbor, friend and part-time work-at-home woman had me worn and weary. Not only was my body tired, but my brain raced as well.
Random thoughts strung together like an annoying necklace of woes: Would my latest project be done in time? Is my adult daughter doing okay in her new job and living situation? Is my elderly mom going to slip and fall on the ice in this nasty winter weather? Did I offend my friend when she'd asked for my honest opinion about her child-rearing decision? Are my sons making wise choices when it comes to their peer groups? Would I gain back the twenty pounds I'd just lost…..for the third time?
And then…the dreaded "what ifs." What if the young mom in my Bible study discovers her husband is having an affair just as she suspects? What if my high school son with special needs doesn't do well on his ACT exam next year? What if my friends lose their home to foreclosure? What if my sister-in-law's ex-husband threatens her again…or worse?
And so I tossed and turned; and tried to no avail to induce sweet slumber that would whisk me away from all of my fears, both real and imagined.
Finally giving up, I dragged my flannel-clad self into the kitchen to heat some boiling water in my kettle and steep a bag of chamomile tea. I hoped it might do the trick.
Then, I recalled today's key verse.
Anxious toil. Yep. That pretty much sums up the state of mind in which I found myself:
ANXIOUS: "feeling nervous: worried or afraid, especially about something that is going to happen or might happen."
TOIL: "hard exhausting work or effort."
And all of this worry, unrest and wondering was costing me precious moments of sleep.
So that night, and many nights since, I have taken God at His Word. He says it is vain for me to toil anxiously. He says He gives sleep to His beloved. So I asked Him to give me the very sleep He promised!
As in many areas of my life, He doesn't simply wave a magic wand and make everything disappear. Oh, He is willing to grant. But sometimes, I also need to be willing to help in the process. So now, when the restlessness creeps in and threatens to rob me of another night's sleep, here is what I do:
With a notebook by my bed, I jot down my worries and leave them in the hands of the only One who never slumbers or sleeps. I transform my list of "what ifs" into a prayer page of "please advise," asking the God who crafted the entire universe out of nothing to show me, when He is ready, what action, if any, I need to take with regards to my list. For the time being, I request that He work on them, so I can get some shut-eye.
I also ask Him to show me if there is work for me to do that will require a temporary loss of sleep. Oh, not the flustering worry-work of fretting, but the pure, sweet work of simple prayer. I slide out of my comfy covers and get down on my knees. Then I pray a child-like prayer (about the only kind I can muster at that hour) and solicit the Savior. At times, I've even fallen asleep at the edge of my bed. (It may sound un-spiritual, but I see it as an instant answer to prayer! After all, I was asking for sleep and He granted it!)
If you too are tired of sleepless nights, will you join me in this quest for slumber? Stop counting sheep. Come to the Great Shepherd instead. You are His beloved and He has a little gift for you: rest for both your body and your soul.
Dear Lord, I am tired. I am weary. I want to be at my best so I can serve You fully. Will you please grant me, Your beloved, sleep just as You promised? In Jesus' Name, Amen.
For more on this topic and a Sweet Dreams basket giveaway, visit Karen's blog
A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman
His Princess: Love Letters from Your Prince by Sheri Rose Shepherd
31 Days of Power: Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory by Ruth and Warren Myers
Locate today's key verse in your Bible. Read each word slowly, pausing to let the words penetrate straight to your soul. For added effect, look up the specific definitions to any key words.
When have I been unable to sleep? What did I do? Did it work?
What other ways can I combat sleeplessness and restless thoughts?
Isaiah 26:3 "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (ESV)
© 2011 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105