by | May 3, 2010 | 2010, Musings | 0 comments


Most church nurseries have the familiar words from I Cor. 15:51 posted on the wall. They read “…we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Sleep is an important topic whether we are discussing the resting rhythms of an infant, the snoring habits of a middle aged husband or the fitful patterns of a menopausal woman. We all need sleep.

Although we spend a third of our lives asleep, researchers are not sure why. A recent article in the “National Geographic “magazine postulated that basically we sleep because our brain demands it. In addition to the obvious physiological benefits, sleep helps us “remember what is important and forget what is not.”

Our nightly rest of 7 to 9 hours is divided between periods of what is called “deep-wave” sleep and rapid eye movement sleep. We drift in and out of wakefulness. The truth is the brain is as active during our sleep as it is when we are awake. And the go-to-sleep thing and the wake-up-now thing are both controlled by the ebb and flow of chemicals in our brain. Deep in the hypothalamus there are two clusters of cells that shift levels of electrical activity and determine when we sleep and when we wake up. So much for counting sheep and setting alarm clocks!

It seems that children who get less sleep may be at risk of becoming overweight. Teenagers have an excuse for the late-to-bed routine; they naturally get sleepier later at night and need to wake up later as well. They are not their best at eight a.m. classes. And the older we are the less sleep we require.

As I read the article, I kept thinking of that seemingly sarcastic verse in Proverbs 6, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to lie down.” The Bible tends to treat sleep as a euphemism for slothful, lazy behavior.

Most of the verses that address sleep do so from a negative perspective. We are warned in Proverbs 20:13 “Do not love sleep, lest you become poor” and in Proverbs 10:5 we are told that the one who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully.

But this week, the verse about sleep that we can all meditate on is found in Psalm 121. Out of a collection of 15 Psalms known as the “Song of Ascents”, this song was sung as the Israelites traveled up to Jerusalem three times a year. And right in the middle of their musical rehearsal of God’s faithfulness, Psalm 121:1-4 says:

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

It is true that we all need to sleep. And I am grateful for my prone 8 hours with a nap thrown in every now and again. But it is so comforting to know that our Lord does not sleep. He does not need rest. He is always attentive to the needs of His children. This week, awake or asleep, you and I can fully engage in the details of our lives knowing our Savior is making sure our “feet do not slip.”


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