August 19, 2016

Abiding or avoiding?

Last night I went to bed a bit early thinking that would mean more sleep. It didn’t work that way. I could not go to sleep and seemed to be awake for hours. If sleep happened, it didn’t feel like it. I tried to pray yet kept drifting in and out of all sorts of thoughts, most of which were either work-related or useless — and not at all sleep-inducing.

This morning my first thoughts were questions: How do I avoid that kind of night? I put on my spiritual armor in the morning to keep focus and that works; do I need to do the same when I go to bed? Show me what to do, Lord.

This is the verse for today which, if taken literally, promises a good night’s sleep . . .

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

Chambers discusses how a Christian can fall into introspection, a sort of navel-gazing that is troublesome and produces a sense of being incomplete or not having what is needed. He reminds me that God wants me to be absolutely complete in Him and whatever disturbs my rest in Him needs to be quickly brought to Him.

This ‘completeness’ is a spiritual state of mind where I am totally trusting Jesus and able to focus on Him. This is about learning to abide in Christ, nothing or no one else. It is that rest of mind that erases anxiety and fills the heart with peace that is beyond human understanding.

I thought I had that when I went to bed. The day had been a good one, but when my head hit the pillow I felt physically wired and mentally unfocused. This did not seem to be based on anything undone, or that should be prayed about, or put aside for tomorrow. Was it physical? Was it mental or emotional? Was it spiritual?  I have no idea. I just know that I’m tired and could nap at the drop of a hat.

Rereading the above verses of invitation from Jesus, I tried to remember if I was heavily burdened, carrying a load that was not mine to carry. The day did not go that way, but I read the news just before bedtime. That is one sure way to add stress to an otherwise calm day. But I did pray through the news items that bothered me.

Then I thought about what it means to come to Jesus. Surely that includes prayer, and also relying on Him for whatever is needed. I did that, even asking for sleep, but still did not sleep. Jesus include learning from Him in His invitation, so I wondered how He would deal with sleeplessness, likely with prayer. I was sleepy and focus on prayer was difficult. My mind wandered, but not always to good places.

Jesus says He is gentle and lowly in heart. Perhaps I was prideful of the good day I’d had? My soul was not at rest because I’d slipped from humility to smugness? This may seem trivial, but He does get picky as He draws me into that complete union with Him. Not enough thankfulness and too much patting myself on the back? I’m still not sure.

I agree with Chambers when he says, “Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one—‘Come unto Me.’ The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words.”

This writer adds that if my heart is not right, I will dispute with Jesus rather than come to Him. If resistance to Him is my cause of sleeplessness, then I must ask Jesus to expose it so I can confess any area of my life where I am avoiding Him instead of abiding in Him.

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