On a scale of 1-10 how rested do you feel today? Is that any different than the day before? Or the week before? Or what about even the month before?
Our responsibilities are ever increasing and our amount of sleep is ever diminishing.
We seem to always be in motion. Always serving and running from one thing to the next. Busyness is the new drug of choice. Or at least the new socially acceptable speed at which to live life. But why do we do this to ourselves?
Well, there is a myriad of reasons – overcommitment, a desire to please others, and being exhausted which leads to poor decisions, to name a few. But there is another reason that can actually underlie all the rest.
A lack of trust in God
Don’t write this off too quickly. Let’s connect some ideas and see where it leads.
Trust is defined as
reliance on the integrity, strength, or ability of another, or placing confidence in another.
This is what we are meant to do in all areas of our lives. Trust God. Rely on His resources. Depend on His character. Be confident in His action in our lives. Let Him do the work. Whether that means our ministry achievements, our never-ending to-do list or nurturing our families, God can accomplish it all. Even more than that, He wants to accomplish it all on our behalf.
A lack of trust leads us to feel the weight and responsibility for that which is not ours to own. Ministry achievements do not depend on us. Staying on top of our to-do lists does not depend on us. Nurturing and loving our families does not depend on us. We can work 24/7 with good intentions and towards good goals and never accomplish all there is to do.
My lack of trust in God
I remember the first time God began to challenge me with this idea. I was in one of the busiest seasons of life I had experienced up to that point – full-time ministry, project lead on a huge project, working on a degree, balancing relationships and community. There was not a spare moment of time as it was and God simply asked me, “Do you trust Me with your time?”
“Well, of course I trust you with my time. Isn’t that what Christians do? We trust! I mean, I’ve been quoting Proverbs 3:5-6 since I was a little girl.”
Thus began a wrestling in my heart that caused me to see that trust is not just a word or a feeling but an action. Trust is shown not by what I say I believe but in what I actually do. God was clearly asking me to set parameters for accomplishing all that needed to be accomplished and then to rest. To go to bed early. To get a full night of sleep.
It wasn’t logical. My brain couldn’t wrap itself around the idea. I wasn’t even getting everything done as it was, much less with even less time. But the more I resisted, the more God revealed my heart. He revealed my lack of trust in Him to care for me and accomplish what was needed. He revealed my dependence on self and not on Him. My prayers were filled with requests to “give me strength” and “keep me awake”. When He wanted to be my strength and give me rest.
Your lack of trust in God
Maybe, if you’re honest, this is where you are too. Maybe the demands of life and family, of home and work are driving you. Maybe they’re your taskmasters. Maybe you long for a slower pace but just don’t know how. Maybe your mind comes up with a thousand reasons why it would be impossible to use fewer hours of your day to do all that needs to be done. I know. I’ve been there. Maybe it sounds like this,
If I don’t keep working on this to do list, my house will be a disaster!
There are so many that need to be reached with the gospel, I must keep pushing forward.
God has given me goals and dreams, and now I am working to accomplish them.
If I don’t take time for these things, then people’s expectations won’t be met.
If I don’t just stay up and finish this, then my day tomorrow will be even more stressful.
God relentlessly pursued me in this area until I finally gave in. I set clear parameters for working and sleeping. It was terrifying! It required faith. I had to actually trust instead of just saying I trusted. And the crazy thing is, it actually worked! (Crazy to me because it was so counterintuitive, but obviously not truly crazy since it’s what God intended!)
I still can’t explain it, but I actually got everything that really needed to get done – even with less time! It made me prioritize my time better and learn to say no to what wasn’t really necessary. I enjoyed my work more because it wasn’t constantly driving me. I was rested for the first time in a long time. I even started waking up on my own before my alarm went off. What?! And I learned, perhaps the biggest lesson for me, that just because I think something needs to be done doesn’t mean it actually really needs to be done. I practiced letting go of perfection in order to embrace the reality of life.
Go to bed
Sleep causes you to acknowledge in the most practical way possible that you have limits. That you can’t do it all. Sleep causes you to realize that results do not depend on your effort. Sleep allows you to see God at work in your life in very practical and tangible ways. Sleep is one way to actively trust God day in and day out. You could say,
Sleep = trusting God
Think of the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat the night there was a storm. (Mark 4:35-41) He was exhausted from ministry. His physical body had reached its limit. He had to have known a storm was coming. But He realized that God was in control. He entrusted Himself to God and slept. There’s a lesson to be learned here.
Larnelle Harris has a great song entitled “The Strength of the Lord”. It tells the story of reaching the end of ones’ self and turning to God – learning to trust, learning to rest. Here are the lyrics to just the chorus:
It’s not in trying but in trusting
It’s not in running but in resting
Not in wondering but in praying
That we find the strength of the Lord
Not striving. Not pushing onward. But trusting. Resting. This is where our strength is. This is the life God intended for us.
(If you have a minute, listen to the entire song.)
Is God calling you to trust Him instead of trying in your own effort? Is He calling you to rest in Him and stop running at a frantic pace? You too can turn toward God and away from self. Trusting God and going to bed can be the first step in breaking the destructive pattern of self-reliance. Maybe some things won’t get done. Maybe some people’s expectations won’t be met. That’s ok!
Because in the process you will develop a greater trust and confidence in God which will lead you into greater intimacy with Him. You can lay aside the weight and responsibility of life’s demands and entrust yourself to God and His ability to meet your daily, practical needs.
Are you ready to give it a try? You don’t have to make a life-time commitment! Try it for 7 days and see the difference it makes.
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