Sleepology 201

Aristotle’s discipline for staying awake while studying would be to hold a metal ball in his hand over a metal basin.  If he began to fall asleep, the ball would fall into the basin acting like an alarm clock to wake him up!

What if we had such discipline for our sleep as well?
The Christian life takes disciplines & holy habits of all kinds!

So here are four key theological highlights on sleep with hopes to lead toward better discipline:

It prepares us for God’s mission the next day.

  • It was the prophet Elijah was commanded to go and have a prolonged time of solitude and prayer, and before this mission, what did the Angle of the Lord do?  Allowed him to sit, eat, and take two long naps because the angel stated, “for the journey is too much for you.”  (1 Kings 19:7)
  • Our mission to love God and love people is very hard.  Just like medical intern studies that show more mistakes with less sleep, we are more apt to spiritually cut ourselves or those around us with abusive thoughts, words of frustration, or short-fused actions.

It affirms trust in God.

  • In the midst of worrying to get everything done or our desire for control, worry-free sleeping reflects passages like:
    • 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.  (Psalms 3)
    • 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  (Matthew 6)

It confirms our humanness.

  • Psalms 121 reminds us that God alone is one that will “neither slumber nor sleep (121:4).”  Our heavenly father does not sleep, but we do.  It is a good reminder of that we are mere creatures, not the Creator.  So we acknowledge his presence, and rest in that.

It reflects & honors the night-to-day sequence & rhythm that God spoke into existence at creation.

  • Genesis 1:5 states, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
  • Scripture reminds us that night starts the day, positioning us in a state of rest & submission to God as He starts the new day and for us to then be invited in to what He has already established.  We enter into early morning, seeing God already active and moving, as we begin a new opportunity to be a part of his already unfolding mission.

Sleepless nights will come.  Nights of only 4-5 hours of sleep may hit our calendar.  But if a shortage of sleep becomes a regular practice it may be a sign of a lack of faith, a refusal to respect the inbuilt rhythms of our Creator, and could diminish our effectiveness towards the mission?


~ by Dave Smith on July 25, 2009.

3 Responses to “Sleepology 201”

  1. My first thought when I read 101 was the idea of Sabbath and how that idea is woven through the Hebrew understand of the cosmos.

    How do you think Sabbath works itself into your series? Is it 103? Or maybe better … 107? *wink wink*

  2. Good addition. I think I am needing your help on this one!

  3. A skeleton outline might look like:

    1) The Hebrew understanding of creation in Gen. 1, in which the world is divided and ordered according to purpose. E.g., light is separated from darkness, and each has its function; land is separated from water, and each has its function. Included in that ordering would be the dedication of the Sabbath as a day to rest. I.e., work is separated from rest, and each has its function.

    2) The concept of shalom, that life is purposeful in some way, and that the idea “life as it should be” actually exists and is attainable.

    3) You don’t get to shalom living by circumventing the way the world (and human beings) has been created. We aren’t meant to work 80 hours / week and become workaholics (pastors included!!!). There’s a time to work, and we should work hard when we are working. But, there’s also a time to rest, to enjoy God’s good creation, to invest in relationships, and to reap the rewards of our labor. Oh yeah, and there’s the whole doxological emphasis of Sabbath as well 🙂

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