Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Sweet, sweet rest!


"He will not let your foot be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."

-Psalms 121:3-4

By Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr.

Sleep. We go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret. Sleep. We make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we wake up our bodies every morning to keep it late.

Rest. What a delightful thing! Napoleon wrote: "I would not exchange it for all the thrones in the world." Neither would most of us. I know very few people who would argue against the value of a good night's sleep.

Our bodies are like coils-We get so wound up after a long day of work (and even play) that we need a good night's sleep to unwind. But have you ever thought about how much goes on even while we sleep? It is so important for our bodies to get the rest we need.

Even more significant is this: God uses our sleeping hours to accomplish some pretty amazing feats.

I have discovered, once I pull the covers over my body and shut my eyes at night, God uses my darkness so that I may discover the brightness of His will on the following day.

The psalmist declared that we belong to a God who needs no sleep. At all times, God is busy at work in us and around us.

When you rise in the morning to see the dawning of the sun, who do you think makes it possible? As you sleep, who do you think charts your course and makes straight your path for the day that follows? It is God!

Worried over this, uptight over that, some of you do not sleep well at night.

Today, I want to reassure you. You are in good hands when the lights go out at night. Having taken my own advice, I can tell you that I sleep better now, knowing I belong to the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps.

God molds our lives

Recently, I came upon a beautiful little story that might give you fresh insight into what goes on at night while God is at work. The story is about a noted painter and sculptor, Sir Herbert Von Herkimer.

Herkime's father was aging and growing feeble. Facing increasing difficulty caring for himself, he went to live in the home of his distinguished son. The father also was a sculptor and, to pass the hours watching his son at work, he asked for clay to mold and model.

Yet, because of his enfeeblement and failing sight, the old man grieved as he put away his work each night. He was not as good as he once had been. Because he could not shape the clay as he wanted, he went to bed very sad each night.

However, after the lights went out and the old man fell asleep, his son secretly worked on his father's creation. In the morning, not knowing another hand had touched the clay, the father would return to his work and exclaim: "Why, this isn't so bad after all! I'm still pretty good. Maybe I'll keep trying."

And he did. Each night, his son worked on the clay, and each morning the old man awoke with a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of value and worth.

In many ways, God works like this on our lives. We are the clay, and God molds us even while we sleep.

A special prayer for bedtime

Sleep studies show the thoughts we ponder before going to sleep keep stirring after we think we have closed up shop for the night. Many times, problems we could not solve during the day are worked out when we awake the next morning.

Some people attribute such solutions to the value of a good night's sleep, but in my thinking, God kept working while we slept.

When you run up against brick walls while trying to make decisions, this is one of the wisest pieces of advice I can give you: Offer to God in prayer that which is foremost on your mind. If it is a problem, take it to God. And if you desire to wake up a better person than you were the day before, ask God for that, too.

By placing your cares in God's hands during the night, you can be assured they will have God's attention. If that problem is resolved by morning, God is certainly the One who solved it.

Throughout the scriptures, God's work during our sleep can be substantiated. The Bible relates how God has touched, spoken to, and even changed His servants while they slept. For me, the best of these stories is about Solomon, from I Kings 3.

The night before Solomon was to become king, God came to him in a dream, and asked Solomon the one thing he most desired as king. Read for yourself what Solomon said. His answer so pleased God that God gave Solomon not only what he asked for, but also that for which he did not ask!

In conclusion

My point is simply this: The God we serve is a 24-hour God. There are no "Closed" signs on God's shop door. You won't find God out to lunch or on vacation.

God watches over us, provides for us, and even molds and shapes what we shall be... not only during our waking hours, but also even while we are asleep. With that confidence, I arise each day and move through it, knowing nothing will happen that God and I cannot solve together.

What about you? Are you tensed up at bedtime? Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you tried medicines, hot chocolate, or counting sheep?

Why not try counting on God?

If God can dress the sky each night in the glittering array of stars and moon, and can bring the sun up each morning at a precise moment, I know God can work on you and your problems while you sleep.

Sleep well tonight, my friends. God will be quietly at work, putting the finishing touches on the previous day. And, rest assured, God will make sure that all you need for tomorrow will be taken care of tonight as well!


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