Read the previous installations of this story by clicking Sleep-Day One, Sleep-Day Two, and Sleep-Day Three
8.10.06 So I am minding my own business (and my own busy-ness), wondering why God won’t give me direction for my future. I’m living the Type-A life, up in the wee hours and go ’til you drop late at night life, living to check things off the list that never ends daily. I’m physically run-down, emotionally weakened and I am innocently pondering the events of the day (while I stain bricks until sunset, nonetheless). I was remembering how Hunter couldn’t hear from us, receive from us, needed nothing from us until he could get sleep. Just sleep.
I was on my patio as the sun was disappearing behind the mountains and the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, came to my mind.
1 Kings 17 – 21 In partial summary, Elijah was a power-house. He had the favor of God and walked in great authority. God used Elijah to tell King Ahab that a drought so severe was coming there wouldn’t even be dew. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had encouraged the worship of Baal and killed God’s prophets; God was not pleased. Calling down this type of heavenly curse must wear you out because God made Elijah take some r & r, sending him to the brook Cherith where the ravens fed him morning and night and he drank water from the brook.
Elijah got the restoration he needed there and the brook dried up. That was when he got his next instruction: to go to a widow at Zarephath, where he was not only part of a miracle of provision for her (her oil and flour did not run out until the drought was over because of Elijah), but when her son died later, Elijah prayed and God revived him.
Elijah was the guy who set up the public “testing” between Yahweh and Baal with the building of the 2 altars. Ahab had called him a “troubler of Israel,” and Elijah put it back in Ahab’s court by saying that the king was the troubler by allowing the worship of false gods.
God proved Himself like Elijah said He would by showing up in fire on a water-drenched altar while Baal did not show up despite the hours of prayer and self-mutilation of the false god’s prophets.
Our God showed up! He honored his prophet!
But when Elijah became the target of Jezebel’s rage after he ordered the deaths of her priests, he ran in fear. He ran in fatigue. He ran in exhaustion. Elijah ended up under a tree taking a long nap, wishing he could just die. That is tired! I actually get that. That is whole and complete fatigue!
When Elijah was awakened by an angel and told to eat, he found a freshly baked cake and a container of water by is head. He ate it and then went back to sleep. He wasn’t praying for purpose, begging God for his next assignment, ahem. He was just sleeping, then eating divinely prepared meals, then sleeping some more.
The angel woke him up again and told him he needed his strength so he should get up and eat again. THAT food and THAT rest prepared him for the next 40 days of a tough journey. But it wasn’t until after THAT food and THAT rest that he got his next instruction from God and went to a cave where God spoke clearly and decisvely to him.
The study notes in my Bible say of 1 Kings 19.11,12
“The Lord did not reveal Himself to Elijah in the spectacular ways by which He had shown Himself to Moses. To this discouraged, despondent old prophet, God responds in gentleness.”
God did speak to him again, not in a great strong wind, or in an earthquake or even in a fire. God spoke in a “still small voice,” or a “delicate whispering voice.” Had Elijah not been quieted by a time of rest, had he remained in the endless, noisy cycle of boldly prophesying and working hard at it, he may have missed it – the very thing he needed most.
So here I am on my patio staining those ever-loving bricks on a hot summer night, remembering Hunter’s cries, pondering the prophet Elijah and it was becoming clear: I need sleep. I am so tired. I cannot find peace or comfort of any kind until I get sleep. There is nothing anyone can offer me that will help me in any way until I get rest. And, God is not going to give me my next directions until, through rest, I am in a better frame of mind.
B I N G O !
God got through to me.
This new idea, this thought that I neeeeeeeeeeeded sleep began echoing through my mind. I even dreamed about it. I was going to need proof that this was actually true and by the next day I was ready to find out. But for the moment, fireworks were going off in the sky of my heart like I was being granted some divine permission to indulge myself in something that was good for me – that God might still be pleased with me even if I wasn’t running myself ragged. Could this be true? What if I am not on my hyper-vigilant watch at every second – will the world cease to revolve correctly? Sadly, I would soon find, I had been living with somewhat of a God-complex. How embarrassing.
You may be thinking, “Good grief, of course sleep is from God. Of course He wants you to live a rested life. I have no trouble sleeping and not feeling guilt about it.” Wonderful! I wish you’d clued me in (though I probably wouldn’t have understood, anyway).
But some of you, my friends and family, are so tired you can barely read this. You are holding your world together for all you are worth. You are pleasing everyone and getting everything done and you dare not skip a beat or disaster will strike. Rest is most definitely not a state of mind. It is a place in which you can live. Think about these:
“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest…be diligent to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4.1,11
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet,” Proverbs 3.24.
On day 5, I will tell you what I found in black and white right there in the Bible about sleep and how God was trying to make sure I heard it fully, and actually had been for some time.
Hunter needed it, Elijah needed it, and it turns out, I was sorely in need of sleep, too.
Deliver us from from striving & our self-reliant pride, Lord. Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: Working for the Kingdom of God does not exempt me from His commands concerning the Sabbath and keeping it holy. It is pride to defy it. Word to all my friends and family in ministry. With love!
Read all the posts from this series:
- Sleep, Day one – I didn’t even know I needed it
- Sleep, Day Two, I hadn’t slept in almost ten years
- Sleep, Day Three, Hunter and the Prophet Elijah
- Sleep, Day Four, Even the Prophet Elijah needed a nap
- Sleep, Day Five – I discover Psalm 127!
- Sleep, Day Six, The Sunday Morning Bubble Disaster
- Sleep Day Seven, Even God rested on the 7th day