Bedtime. It is, hands down, my favorite time of day! There is not much better than sitting in my bed reading, watching shows or working on the computer, but the best part is snuggling deep under our fluffy comforter and going to sleep. I am getting all giddy just thinking about it.
As Christians I don’t think we give sleep much thought. I know I don’t. We know that our bodies need it and we acknowledge that it is a gift of God. But it turns out that there is more to it.
While Spurgeon has been with the Lord for quite some time, his writings continue to teach us. In his commentary on Psalm 3 he mentions two kinds of sleep, the sleep of presumption and the sleep of holy confidence. I'd like to unpack that a little bit.
The Sleep of Presumption
There are some who love sleep so much that they put off the things that need to get done in order to get that nap or those extra hours of sleep at night. While I am all for naps and sleeping in, we are in danger when we assume that we will have plenty of hours available to us to get our work done, whether it is doing those dishes, writing that paper or calling our friend.
We believe God owes us. He owes us those extra hours. He should give us tomorrow despite the fact that we wasted today. This is presuming on God’s grace.
Every night our 4 year old asks me if Joe or I will check on him before we go to bed. And every night I assure him that we will, to which he replies, “But will you check on me before God closes my eyes?” He understands something about sleep that I often forget. Both work and sleep are gifts from God and must be stewarded well.
“Not a man would close his eyes, did not God put his fingers on his eyelids; did not the Almighty send a soft and balmy influence over his frame which lulled his thoughts into quiescence, making him enter into that blissful state of rest which we call sleep."
The Sleep of Holy Confidence
In Psalm 3:5-6 David is being hounded by his enemies. He has to hide from his own son, his life is in danger and yet he talks about being able to sleep in peace.
"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."
David’s sleep does not come because he is presuming he will see another day. His rest comes because he knows and trusts the God of sleep. He has done what he could for the day. He cannot sleep and stand guard at the same time but he knows someone who can stand guard for him.
Every one of us has been tasked with a certain amount of things we need to do each day. It will be different for each of us. But we all have been given the same amount of hours.
Here is what I believe we need to learn. We need to pray as we go about our day, over the appointments we make and the to-do list we put together. Then we need to work hard, in order to make the most of God’s time God gives us. Finally, we should go to bed at a good time, trusting that God will give us the rest we desire and the protection we need.
What about those tasks that didn’t get done, those hard decisions that still need to be made, and those fears that swirl around our hearts? Those who sleep in holy confidence rest knowing that they have worked hard, prayed even harder, and that God is at work in and over all things. This mindset will help control our desire to worry and overwork ourselves. It teaches us that we are not and should not be in control.
“[H]e rocks the cradle for us every night; he draws the curtain of darkness; he bids the sun shut up his burning eyes; and then he comes and says, "Sleep, sleep, my child; I give thee sleep.”
This is especially important for those who are in full-time ministry. There is only so much God has called you to do for today. It may involved doing everything on your list or it may mean not scratching off a single thing. We do God’s bidding, not our own. He is our captain who determines the course of his mission.
On the other hand we need to beware of wasting God’s time through laziness and loving sleep and rest more than we should.
Do you sleep the sleep of holy confidence knowing you have worked hard and prayed well, or do you sleep the sleep of presumption abusing God’s good gift and expecting God to give you more hours?