Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Sleep

The Myth of Rest

This morning I woke up tired. Yesterday I woke up tired. The day before that… well, you get the idea.

But it didn’t used to be like this. I remember the day. It was sometime near the beginning of my second year of seminary. We had been through a move, renovations, pregnancy, having our first daughter, and me starting a new job at the church, all within the past year. I was taking a full course-load at TBS (including languages) and working near full-time at the church with a newborn at home. The year before I had taken about 1.5 times the full course-load because I wanted to get a running start. It was a good thing I did.

I woke up that morning and I was tired, frustrated, and angry. The world seemed at that moment, dark (because it was… it was before 6am in a basement apartment in the winter in Canada) and hopeless. I was drained. While my spirits weren’t necessarily broken, my body was, and my mind was too. I wanted to give up. There just simply wasn’t enough time to get everything done. I knew there was no stopping, and there would be no catching up any time soon. What I didn’t realize then was that there would be no catching up from that point on… probably for good.

There’s never enough time for sleep. Never enough time to finish all my jobs. Never enough time to stop and rest.

Vacations have come and gone and seasons have been busier than others, but overall I’m still tired. One daughter has turned into three, our basement apartment turned into one house (with lots of renovations) and then another house, part-time pastoring turned into full-time pastoring and church-planting, and I’ve gotten older. Life has not slowed down. I don’t think it will.

Being tired used to scare me. It used to paralyse me. It used to make me panic and wonder, ‘when will I ever get the rest I need?!’ Now I try, on my better days, to remember that the tiredness and lack-of-rest that I feel is part of being in this fallen creation. It is a result of sin. But it won’t last forever. In the New Heavens and the New Earth I will know the rest for which I was created. I’ll sleep then.

In the mean time, I’m thankful for the gospel of Jesus which speaks to weary, performance-worn people.

Come to me, all who labour 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.

Thankfully, though the work is hard this side of eternity, Jesus promises true rest in the life to come. And in the meantime he gives grace and provides strength. And he lets us feel our tiredness and our weakness for our good. After all, I must remember that there is only one who does not sleep or slumber. And my tiredness serves to remind me daily that I’m not that one.

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** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

Tired Isn’t Always Bad

It is a Monday. When I first conceived of writing this post it was a Monday morning. Monday mornings are tired times, generally speaking, for preachers.

This morning, I was tired.

As I was going about my morning routine, I thought to myself, I should have some coffee when I get to work. That will help make me alert. But as I was driving in to the office I began to think about it a little more. I think I’m afraid of being tired. I didn’t know why that was.

There are times when I definitely don’t want to be tired; times when I want and need to be firing on all cylinders, and so I thank the Lord for the gracious gift of coffee or sugar or whatever else helps restore mental alertness. But I didn’t need coffee this morning. The jobs I’m working on currently are more mundane jobs of scheduling, planning, catching up on e-mails, etc. and I can do those just fine without any stimulant… even on a Monday morning!

So why would I be want coffee? Why would I be so upset at the thought of being tired? I think the answer lies in what CJ Mahaney so astutely points out in Humility with regard to tiredness and sleep:

The fact is, God could have created us without a need for sleep. But He chose to build this need within us, and there’s a spiritual purpose for it. Each night, as I confront my need again for sleep, I’m reminded that I’m a dependent creature. I am not self-sufficient. I am not the Creator. There is only One who will ‘neither slumber nor sleep’ (Ps 121:4), and I am not that One.

Sleep is a gift, but it’s a humbling one. It’s a matter of only hours, at most, before you’re ready to again receive God’s gift of sleep. When that time comes, let me encourage you to pray something like this: ‘Lord, thank You for this gift. The fact that I’m so tired is a reminder that I am the creature and only You are the Creator. Only You neither slumber nor sleep, while for me, sleep is something I cannot go without. Thank You for this gracious, humbling, refreshing gift.’

What CJ says about preparing to go to sleep can be applied to being tired throughout the day as well. If I use my tiredness right, it’s not something I should be afraid of; rather it has become an opportunity to grow in humility.

So why am I afraid of being tired? Because I’m proud. Because I live a in a self-created illusion that I am somehow self-sufficient. Rather than seizing this opportunity to thank God for the physical reminder that he is God and I am not, I try to mask the symptoms of my creatureliness, my weakness, and my limitations and pretend that I am God… that I will not grow weary.

So this morning… I drank no coffee. I’m glad that I’m tired. I’m glad that God never is. I’m thankful for this reminder and I pray the Lord uses it in an ongoing way to stretch me and grow me in humility.

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