In Proverbs 3v21-26 Solomon exhorts his son not to let wisdom out of his sight(21). And details the blessings of living that way: it brings life(22), provides safety and security as we navigate life(23), removes fear so we sleep soundly(24), and frees us from the debilitating terror of sudden disaster or ruin(25). How is that possible?
Because wisdom begins with knowing God. The fear of the LORD is the beginning, the foundation of living skilfully in God’s world. Look carefully at(26), Solomon tells us why we can be free from fear and anxiety that would rob us of sleep, “for the LORD will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.” Wisdom is knowing God and not letting him out of your sight, not letting circumstances, fears, or if only’s, crowd God out of view because he is with his people.
Have you ever taken a child to a big sporting event or concert? There’s 80,000 people and you don’t want to let them out of your sight, because to do so would be to lose them, so what do you do? You hold tightly to them. That’s what Solomon is saying about God. In the midst of 80,000 possible worries, if only’s, and anxieties don’t let God out of your sight. It’s knowing God and knowing that he’s with you, interested, present, caring, sovereign, good, that you can trust him with each and every if only, that enables us to sleep sweetly.
Solomon isn’t saying don’t worry be sleepy. He’s saying take those fears, that dread, to school. Teach them, train them, shrink them back into perspective as you see them in the light of the God who is your Father and who is with you. Sleeping is an act of, as well as the result of, trust in God. It is us getting out of the way for a while so God can act.
Psalm 4 was written in a time of national crisis, we don’t know exactly what but everywhere David looks there’s pressure. What does he do? He cries out to God. What does he pray for? (6)”let the light of your face shine on us…” He prays that Israel will know God, because then they’ll have a security bigger than this current crisis or the next one or the next one. And it leads to sleep even in crisis, because (8)“you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
Solomon’s wisdom echoes David’s experience. Sound sleep begins with wise wakefulness, don’t let God out of your sight, see God, feed on God, who he is, what he has done, how he feels about us, his love and care for us. Ultimately see it at the cross, the supreme demonstration of God’s love and willingness to involve himself in his world for his people. Sweet sleep begins with wise wakefulness – not allowing God to be crowded out by the world and its worries.
Jesus taught his disciples the same lesson in Matthew 6v25-34. Jesus addresses the issue of anxiety and worry. He doesn’t say don’t worry be happy. But don’t worry because you know and trust your heavenly Father’s care. (32)He knows what you need and you can trust him to provide it. How much of our sleeplessness is caused by anxieties and worries, dreads that are at root the result of a lack of faith or a forgetfulness about God? God cares about those things, he wants us to bring them to him and in turn bring him to them and so change the way we think and feel about them. Sound sleep begins with wise wakefulness that won’t lose sight of God but intentionally sets out to know God. Not letting the day with its worries crowd God out, but keeping him in view and fears in perspective.
Sleep is God’s gift to us. It’s a reminder that he’s sovereign and so we can turn off, disconnect, and exercise trust in his goodness and loving fatherly care whilst we sleep. And that process begins with wise wakefulness that won’t let God out of our sight all day, that brings those situations to him, and exercises trust in him.
How is your sleep? Maybe we need to repent of ignoring God’s good gift of sleep, of fighting your creatureliness and dependence on God and resolve to turn off the distractions, minimise the blue light, have wise routines, and remind ourselves of the nature of God, and pursue sleep as an expression of trust in God’s goodness. Even as a way of worship.
Maybe for others it’s not letting our fears and anxieties crowd God out of our sight during the day, but wrestling to keep God in view. Taking time to shoot up an arrow prayer in a crisis, creating a time to read and pray in the morning, the evening and/or throughout the day so that wise wakefulness means you’re trusting God as you come to sleep so that “when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Asking others to pray for and with us as we battle anxiety and fears that rob us of sleep, and to keep pointing us to our good, good, Father. Spurring us on to trust in our heavenly Father’s care.
Perhaps you’ve let God out of your sight, you’re go to church but it feels like habit, you feel disconnected, and that you’re drowning in a sea of dread. We sleep but God doesn’t, he doesn’t drift off or forget, he’s with us, we’ve just lost sight of him, but he hasn’t lost sight of us. The cross reminds us he could never forget us. Why not pray now? Bring your worries and anxieties to him? Confess how you feel? Ask God to help you pursue him, keep him in sight, so you know the comfort of his care and the gift of sweet sleep, and then resolve to put things in place that help you not let him out of your sight. Ask someone to pray with you and help you.
How is your sleep?