Friday, September 21, 2007

Sweet Sleep

Sometimes I go to bed and cannot sleep. It doesn’t happen often, as I am usually sawing my logs almost before my head hits the pillow. But when it does, I feel “wired” and agitated in my mind. I might be trying to solve a particular problem, but more often it’s a combination of things that whirl around in my head and keep me from rest.

This happened two nights ago. Today God speaks about it. These words in Isaiah 50:10-11, while likely a call to the unsaved, relate to me as a Christian who sometimes attempts to “light my own fire.”

God says, “Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely upon his God. Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—this you shall have from My hand: you shall lie down in torment.”

The bigger principle is that those who spend their lives relying on their own judgments and reasoning instead of trusting the Lord and walking in His light will eventually lie down (die) and spend eternity in torment. This sad reality is repeated over and over throughout the Bible. God calls people to fear, obey, and trust Him, not ourselves and our own ideas.

Yet Christians can rely on our own judgments too. We are admonished in places like Proverbs 3:5-6 to “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

If faith in Christ automatically produced perfect obedience, I’d cheer and shout, but it doesn’t. I am tempted by sin, and the essence of sin is that “we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isaiah 52:6).

Doing my own thing is easy, a life habit. Conquering it involves tests like Isaiah talks about in chapter 50. Darkness comes, times when it seems like God is gone and I’ve no idea what is going on or what to do next. What will I do when that happens?

As my devotional book says, those are times that my mind is apt to “think things over” or “put two and two together” or “come to this conclusion.” In other words, I’m tempted to dispel the darkness by lighting my own fire, coming up with my own solutions.

God doesn’t always offer light in darkness or immediate solutions to tough problems. Instead, He is sometimes gives me opportunity to trust Him even when I can’t see what is going on. I am to walk by faith, not by sight.

Faith is knowing God is true, regardless of circumstances or what my own muddled mind might be telling me. Faith waits instead of pushing. Faith relies on the light I do have until He gives me more. Faith is a type of rest, not necessarily inactive, but leaning on Jesus.

So if I cannot sleep because I’m mulling over some issue or another, God tells me to stop doing that, to turn off that ‘light’ and instead rest in Him, even in darkness. As Psalm 127:2 says, “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.”

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