Posted in good gifts, jesus, rest, sleep, trust

O, to sleep

Our Father gives us good gifts.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

One of those gifts is sleep.

There is so much meaning in the following verses. Please consider:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2)

First we learn that we are His beloved. Second, He gives sleep to His beloved. It is one of the good gifts. Third, we can do nothing apart from Him.

John Everett Millais, The Somnambulist, 1871

Anyone striving, reaching, or toiling apart from Him will yield nothing, no matter how long they labor and no matter how much sleep they lose. Watchmen can watch all they want but unless the LORD is watching too, they will see nothing. Or if they do, they will be able to prevent nothing. Builders can build all they want but unless the LORD is in it, the endeavor will come to nothing. Anxious toil is not of the LORD. Neither is its mate: anxious rest.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)

Ultimately the verse in Psalms is saying that those who sleep well do so because of the LORD. Not just because He delivered a good gift of sleep, but because they trust Him. Therefore they do not make a habit of unease. They do not worry, therefore they do not become restless at night. Good sleep is a gift and it is from a habitual clean conscience and a characteristic of an obedient soul. Witness the most obedient soul who ever lived. His trust in the LORD was complete and total, and He slept like it.

And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up…” (Mark 4:37-39a).

Failure to rest can be showing a lack of faith in God’s provision. A soul which trusts in the Lord will reflect that trust in his sleep.

Oh, I know that temporarily there are circumstances which keep us awake at night. A new mother learning to listen for the cry of her baby may have some difficulty sleeping. And so on. But normally, we should be like David,

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

If you’re not sleeping, reflect on it. Is your toil anxious because it is not of the Lord? Is your sleep uneasy because you need to trust Him more?

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” (Psalm 16:9)

His burden is light. Hand your burdens to Him, trust in Him. And sleep well my brothers and sisters.

Photo by Brandon Atkinson, creative commons
Posted in fatigue, overwork, rest, society

Overworked Americans are a hazard

I read with interest Michael T. Snyder’s piece a few days ago “Americans are literally being worked to death.” Here is a snippet–

“Are you constantly tired and do you feel incredibly stressed almost all the time? Well, that means that there is a really good chance that you are a typical American worker. Even though our incomes are going down, Americans are spending more time at work than ever before. In fact, U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. But it was not always this way. Back in 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it is up to 46 hours. But there are other major economies around the globe that are doing just fine without burning their workers out. For example, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker does.”

“Sadly, for many Americans work is not even finished once they leave the office. According to one recent survey, the average American worker spends an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls after normal work hours have finished. Other Americans are juggling two or three jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Americans are busier than ever and work is often pushing the other areas of our lives on to the back burner. What this also means is that “family vacations” are becoming increasingly rare in the United States. In fact, Americans spend less days on vacation than anyone else in the industrialized world. While some would applaud our “work ethic”, the truth is that the fact that we are being overworked is having some very serious consequences. In fact, as you will see below, Americans are literally being worked to death.”

For the first time in a while I’m only working 40 hours per week. It is still stressful though, because of a reduction in our staff numbers. So we were told we have to work smarter and stretch. This means we are all taking on more duties, and working in a more rushed fashion than ever before to complete an ever-growing list of tasks during those 8 hours. Add to that a growing bureaucratic regulations that must be attended to and the list of things to accomplish during the day gets quite long.

Many Americans are working two and three jobs, and still, pay has gone down and our money buys less. The treadmill is outpacing us.

I lived on a sailboat for two years. I was a live-aboard cruiser. I learned so many valuable lessons during that time. We didn’t have radar or GPS or self-steering. Me and my husband stood watches through the night in shifts, did our own navigation by old fashioned ways, and when we anchored, (no marina for us) we rowed to shore in a dinghy.

We had some rules though. We understood that with fatigue, comes mistakes. On a sailboat, mistakes could cost us our lives. We respected what our bodies were telling us and we didn’t try to stretch things. We never made a passage that took more than 48 hours, knowing that our bodies would not adjust well to a prolonged two-hour on, two hour sleep rotation very well. When we’re tired, we can’t think as clearly.

Above is a still from the Bob Ballard-NatGeo show Alien Deep, episode “Wrecks of the abyss.” The team was looking for ancient wrecks and their radar showed a hit. They deployed the submersible, and as it approached the radar bump, the crew gasped (and me too) as the camera panned over the deep sea bottom to show a modern yacht, fully intact, resting gently upright, sails still deployed. It was the S/V Miranda out of Heidelberg. Now it is forever sailing the eternal deep, its fate a mystery. My husband and I knew that even in calm weather, one instant of inattention or mistaken decision-making could yield a fate like this for us, too. We were careful and tried not to allow fatigue to set in.

Fatigued driving is akin to drunk driving, it affects our brain so much. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says over 55,000 accidents happen each year due to fatigued driving, and they say most of those could be prevented just by getting a good night’s sleep.” (source)

When you’re exhausted you cannot think, react, calculate, decide or do many other cognitive functions as well as when you’re fresh. Add to the normal exhaustion that most parents feel, an extra job or two and you’ve got a fatigue permeating society that affects overall performance.

Let’s say that you’re on the road and you encounter a tired cop, a weary EMT, a fatigued transit conductor, a tired delivery driver, an exhausted bus driver. When people in jobs that affect others are tired, they make mistakes. Their mistakes affect others. They may have a harder time handling tension, stress, anger, or irritations that normally would not affect them.

It is one invisible way that society comes apart: depressed economy leads to overwork leads to fatigue that leads to mistakes that turn violent or deadly. It is one of the threads that stresses a society and overwork and fatigue pulls the thread apart from the seams. We’re all feeling that stress and societal disintegration. We can’t see fatigue, but we see its effects in reduced productivity and high exhaustion rates. Mistakes soon appear, then more and then even more. A wrongly filled out prescription, stepping on the gas instead of the brake, inattentive crossing guard… Think about it. Think about the number of people you depend on each day to make decisions that directly and indirectly affect you and your family. They may be in fact working three jobs and operating on 3 hours’ sleep.

When the Tribulation arrives, people left behind will encounter an already angry, discontent fatigued population ever vying for resources that are becoming scarcer by the day. It will get ugly fast.

I know it is hard now for many of you. But Jesus knows the importance of rest. When He sent the Apostles out on mission, and they returned to report to Jesus of their labors,

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” (Mark 6:31-32).

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2)

Our permanent rest is coming soon. Until then, I entreat in as loving a fashion as I can for us all to make wise decisions for yourself and your family that will allow you all some down time, as well as quiet time to worship Him. I hope you all have a good, and restful, weekend.

Posted in glory, jesus, rest

Encouragement: Preparing a place for us

There is such inexpressible and perpetual activity in the holy realms, it is breathtaking to think of. All heaven is working under command of our Holy God to ready for the Time. What time? The time when God says to Jesus, “Go get your bride!” And His deposit of our inheritance will be redeemed in full! (Ephesians 1:14; 2 Corinthians 1:22). All of time, history, prophecy, and Holy Sovereign Decree has been moving toward the time of fulfillment of the promises of Jesus to His Bride and the promises of God to His people the Jews. Everything.

If you have ever been involved in a project, you know the cycles you go through. There’s the initial excitement, the middle part slow slogging, then the hurry up, ‘oh my goodness the deadline is approaching!’ feeling. I lived on a sailboat for two years, and the few days before we launch is a hectic rush of never-ending activity to get all the provisions on board. The deadline to leave port is hard and fast, one which liveaboard cruisers and Navy personnel know the feeling well. If you ever have opened a restaurant, or built a house, or sold a house and had to move, gotten ready to graduate, gotten married…you know that the activity to prepare for the event by the deadline is never ending and increases the closer the deadline comes.

We do not know the day or hour the Father will tell His Son to go get His bride, but we can sense the deadline nearing. There is a massive amount of activity, some of it seen and some of it unseen.

But back to the bible’s pictures of activity. Didn’t Jesus say, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2).

Things are being prepared, right now. Our lodging in New Jerusalem. Our feast. The temple perhaps. I don’t know, but He is preparing. He is engaged in activity to ready for the moment when a flood of redeemed souls enter glory to dwell with Him forever.

He is also preparing for the moment when His promises to his people the Jews come to fulfillment and the Kingdom Comes. Here is one specific glimpse of that preparation:

Jared Hollier drawing

A Vision of a Man with a Measuring Line
“And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand! Then I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.” (Zechariah 2:1-2).

Zechariah had been awakened and was shown a series of 8 astounding visions all in one night. One of them is that God sent a surveyor (likely The Angel of the LORD, Jesus) to measure the place where the final Jerusalem will be, its exact size and placement! Rejoice O Jerusalem! “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her;” (Isaiah 66:10).

Right now Jerusalem is called Egypt and Sodom, (Revelation 11:8), but someday it will be cleansed, and it will become the holy city God intended it to be.

Look! He is so gracious, He showed Ezekiel also! “In the visions God brought me to the land of Israel, set me on a high mountain in which there was a structure like a city on the south. And he brought me there and behold there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze with a line of flax in his hand and a measuring reed and he stood in the gate.” (Ezekiel 40:2).

Measuring … preparing … So much activity:

Wm Blake, Jacob’s Ladder, from Wiki

“And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!” (Genesis 28:12).

Going and coming … ascending and descending … Not just in the Old Testament but the activity continues in the New:

“He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51).

The Sovereign God, His Perfect Son, and the Holy Angels are working to bring about the fulfillment of all the glorious promises of the bible. I know we know the judgment promises will come true. The world and the heavens will be UNcreated in a reverse orderly progression that mirrors the 6 days in the Creation. Mountains will crumble. Rivers will dry up. Sun will blink out. Stars will fall. People will die.

But to the positive, He is also readying His universe for the new heavens and the new earth, for the moment when the Father says, “Son, it is time for you to be married. GO GET YOUR BRIDE!”

Is there any doubt that the preparations will have been completed and the glowing glorious heavens will be inexpressibly beautiful? No, no doubt.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4)

Our Savior who Saves by grace, our Father, the architect of the earth and the universe, the author of our faith, the redeemer of souls, the Chief of all the Holy Hosts, is preparing…for us.