In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety
(Psalm 4:8, NIV)
Apparently, we will spend around one-third of our lifetime sleeping. We know that sleep is a time when the body recharges, realigns, and repairs. The body is resting. But it’s an active rest. We’re not consciously aware of all that’s still going on while we sleep. Science aside, we can’t see it or measure it or analyze it. But things are happening.
It can be difficult to rest. To actively rest. To be moving and living and having our being while the productivity can’t be seen or measured or analyzed. I’m not addressing busyness. I’m talking about an active rest.
It’s what God is doing in the soul waters. Where no one else can see. Too deep even for us to hear sonar sound hit bottom. Where prayers for spiritual maturity and growth are being fashioned and worked out for good. Where choices of faith to go “beyond the wall” of familiarity or ease take root. Our ear becomes attuned to something different. The goals of what to accomplish shift somewhat. We are ready to go, at attention like a soldier. But we’re not called out into battle, to march on. We’re on a journey, yes, but we’re not necessarily moving somewhere, like to a physical location on a map. It’s an active rest. And there’s no telling for how long.
My brother’s family used to have a German shepherd mutt called Abby. She loved to love and she loved to be loved. And we all loved her in return. But sometimes her desire could benefit from a little guidance, shall we say. My brother needed her to rest first thing in the morning, so he could do his devotions. So he (somewhat seriously and somewhat humorously) taught her a new command: “Do your devos.” Front paws would stretch out in front of her and head would go down onto the floor. Eyes were still wide open. It seemed an active rest.
I’ve been praying for new dreams these last couple of years. After circumstances changed. After the map got suctioned out the window. (It’s long gone.) And active rest? It comes upon me. It presses up around me, hemming in my steps, my paths. I couldn’t move even if I wanted to. Movement is no longer linear. It’s more of a brewing. Working out some character elements under water while I sleep. Strengthening walls of spirit and heart. Sometimes I’m not sure I even know.
Abby loved to run and was always ready to. Sometimes I pray, “Let’s get on with it, God.” Yet, what is a familiar and meaningful psalm to us takes on new meaning: He makes me [or causes me] to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul . . . (Psalm 23:2-3a, NKJV). It seems He responds and says, “Lie down.” Not in meanness or forcefulness or condemnation. Not any more than my brother was with his bigger perspective in mind. Rather, I’m compelled to rest. Something more is going on, is being accomplished, is to come.
This Advent season, we actively wait for Christ to come again. And for some of us, we actively rest. The working out of embryo, birthing new child and new dreams. We know that He does not slumber or sleep (Psalm 121:4). And so we trust Him again to take care of the rest.
Prayer: Lord, we long to do Your will. May You continue to accomplish Your good purposes in our lives and bring it all to completion at just the right time. May we rest well and look forward with hope to all that You are bringing together in Christ, for our pleasure and for Your glory. Amen.