“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” – Psalm 127:1-2
Are you tired? Be honest. Do you wish you could go take a nap right now, but can’t because you have too much to do, too many responsibilities? When someone asks you “How’s it going?”, is your first response usually “busy”?
Our weeks are filled with a lot of activity, aren’t they? Work (sometimes more than one job), school, extracurricular activities, sports, budget balancing, chores, yard work, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, eye appointments, lunch meetings, business meetings, coffee meetings, church activities, play dates….feel free to chime in if I’m forgetting something. One thing our weeks don’t seem to be filled with very much is sleep.
My daughter started kindergarten this week. It’s been an adjustment to say the least, on many different levels. One adjustment we made as a family was to change our bedtimes. The added structure to our day from school has added structure to our nights now, and honestly, we’re benefiting from it…..a lot.
I’ve always been a morning person, but over the last few years I’ve gotten accustomed to staying up late after the kids go to bed in order to get some extra work done or just veg for a while. Turns out staying up late and getting up early makes you lose sleep. Who knew? Maybe I can blame my night life schedule on youth ministry? I need to stay up late because jr. high and high schoolers stay up late, right?
But here’s the thing. Psalm 127:1-2 reminds me that whatever I do, unless I trust God in it, it’s pointless. And that includes sleeping.
Don’t get me wrong, God isn’t against our efforts. In fact, whatever we do, we are to work at it with all our hearts (Colossians 3:23). But the key is that we work hard for God while we trust Him to provide for our needs. God “grants sleep to those he loves” because He’s providing for a need….rest. We all need rest – adequate rest – to function properly. Not only are we rejuvenated physically, but we’re also recharged spiritually.
It is a Godly, Biblical thing to sleep. It is a gift from God to those He loves so that we can in turn love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is not, however, a Godly, Biblical excuse to be lazy. Proverbs 18:9 says, “One who is slack in his work is brother to the one who destroys.” There is a tension between work and rest that must be balanced in our lives. And we need to trust God in both. Work while trusting Him, and rest while trusting Him.
A lifestyle of more work and less sleep does not mean more honor to God. Quite honestly, it means more disobedience to God. From the beginning of creation, God has laid out for us the importance of rest. If He rested, shouldn’t we? Does that mean that we shouldn’t answer the late night phone call or knock on the door to listen and offer support and prayer to someone who needs it, or stay up past bedtime to have a little “overtime” in God’s Word? No. But it does mean that we don’t give priority to the things that shouldn’t get it.
The emails can wait. The Facebook notifications will be there in the morning. The project can be paused. Netflix will save your place. The more we fully rest in God, the more we’ll be fully productive for Him. God wants us to trust Him in our work and in our rest.
When is the last time you got a full 8 hours of sleep? When is the next time you’re going to get a full night’s rest? 😉
He grants sleep to those He loves.