Tag Archives: 4th commandment

Sleep, day five (I discover Psalm 127!)

What a summer I had last year.  I had lost or damaged so many things: relationships, direction, sense of who God actually created me to be, confidence, income, health, peace of mind. My ministry was gone and my marriage was wounded.  The only thing firmly in place was my pride, but God was chipping away at it.  Who will I be, I wondered, if You take that away from me?

God is getting through to me

8.10.06 I finally confessed the truth to myself and God:

I need sleep.  I am so tired.  I cannot find peace or comfort of any kind until I get sleep.  There is nothing anyone can offer me that will help me in any way until I get rest.  And, God is not going to give me my next directions until, through rest, I am in a better frame of mind.

8.11.06 and the 1-2-3 punch.  I sat at the kitchen table with my Bible.  The only scriptures I could recall about rest were the commands to keep the Sabbath, a commandment I not only broke regularly, but had some pride in doing because I didn’t want to be seen as lazy, but rather a hard worker who earned her keep. The only scriptures about sleep in my rememberance were the ones like, “…the stouthearted were plundered, having sunk into their sleep,” and when David said he would “not give sleep or slumber” to his eyes.

Even Proverbs taunted me with, “A little sleep, a little slumber…so poverty shall come on you,” right after  calling me a “sluggard,” and telling me to “consider the ways of the ant,” hard workers, all of them.

So after the revelation I received the night before, I prayed, God, please show me if this is Your word to me right now.  Could it be true that all You are asking of me at this time is to sleep, get rest, become renewed?  Is Your yoke really that easy?  Is Your burden really so light?  Could You teach even me to cast aside my need to be and to do and could You actually give me rest? (Matthew 11.28-30, please read, dare to believe).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


God gives His beloved sleep.  That thought popped into my mind right after I prayed.  I had heard it somewhere (probably a few thousand times…I am a slow hearer).  God gives His beloved sleep.  Simple, plain.  To the point.  With some trepidation I searched my concordance.  There it was: Psalm 127, a Song of Solomon (the wisest of men).

Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

I read it.  I read it aloud.  I wrote it out, word for word.  I thought about it.  I looked at each phrase independantly and interdependantly.  I meditated on it.  I thought it through from every possible angle. It was this amazing thing I could barely believe was there for me! I spent an hour and a half at my kitchen table with my Bible just trying to grasp this wonderful news: God gives sleep.  He was ok with me getting sleep.  I didn’t have to do it all.  I didn’t have to make sure every single thing got done before I enjoyed the restoration, the recovery that sleep brings.

It began to dawn on me that “unless the LORD builds ” it…it is futile.  “Unless the LORD guards” everything, the watchman (me, usually) is in big trouble.  The revelation was taking hold that I was living in the vanity of rising early and staying up late and worrying my head off over everything (the bread of sorrows/anxiety).  God had actually given me permission to sleep.

God gave me, one of His “beloveds”, sleep I wasn’t quite sure what it meant or how I would do it and I knew I was really too busy to do it, but I also knew this was a moment in time I could receive and be changed or ignore and spend the rest of my life regretting.  An hour and a half of scripture meditation…I got up to start the dishwasher with wonder in my heart…



The phone rang just as I got up from the table.  My firstborn (see photo above), Tara, was calling.  I thought maybe I would tell her what God had been showing me through His Word, but I wasn’t quite ready to come forward with the full story. It was the sin of my pride being exposed, after all.

She wasn’t waiting to hear from me anyway.  She came directly to her point.  She said, “Mom, I have been reading the Word and I feel that God told me to call you and tell you this-” and you are probably not surprised to hear that Tara read Psalm 127 to me…every word of it, stressing, “God gives His beloved sleep.”

That was one of those moments, even now as I write it, I am in awe that the God of the universe had time to make sure I was hearing His plan, His will, His heart towards me.  It is so humbling.

The P.S. to this is, our friends are not fooled nor impressed by our drivenness. Our families do not think we are living our best life just because we are running circles around them doing-doing-doing. They’d love to have us stop, relax and be. My mom still starts every phone call from several states away with “I know you’re busy and I don’t want to keep you, but…” because she knew I was perpetually in a hurried and harried state of the most earth-shattering projects at all times for years.

The problem is, when we are not rested, we don’t allow anyone around us to rest, either, at least not without making them feel inferior. When we’re rest-less, we cause restlessness in the ones we love most. We even make them do things from our endless to-do lists.

Are you blushing with shame? Remember, I’m not judging. It takes one to know one. My poor husband, Dave, hadn’t had a day off in over 20 years, thanks to my lists and projects. Our full-speed-ahead “fruitfulness” wears out the ones we most love.


Later that evening, I pulled out an article about resting in the providence of God that a friend had given to me to read a couple of months earlier.  I had read it at least twice.  I thought I would check it out again since it was about the Sabbath and I had a newly-increased motivation in learning to keep it, and obey it.

You are sharp enough to have guessed what I found –  I hadn’t even noticed the paragraph about Psalm 127 before or the beautiful statement made by the article’s author:

“God knows that His creatures need restoration by rest, and so He not only commands but even invites us to get it.”

God wasn’t being redundant with me.  He was making sure I got the invitation! He knows how slow I am to hear and learn sometimes.  I mean, this whole thing is in His Word, so actually, since I learned to read, it has been there for me to read and receive.  How many times had I run the other way?  My husband Dave and God only know.

Two days later, God would issue another reminder as I wrestled with whether or not I would press in to accept this newfound freedom.  I’ll tell you about that tomorrow (Sleep, day six).  But until then, I want to tell you that I know from experience that the loss of sleep from over-work and anxiety and pressure is overcome by calling on the Lord who calls you His “beloved one.”

If you need to work hard and press in to do something difficult to feel alive, then press in, “make every effort,” to receive the promised rest, as Hebrews 4.1-11 invites us!

Think about what you are willing to give up to receive what God is willing to give you…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill.  I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” Ps. 3.4-5  Even during the most hectic and disconcerting times in my life, I can sleep in peace knowing God will sustain me and has the whole world in His hands…

Read all the posts from this series:

Sleep, day four (Even Elijah needed a nap)

 Read the previous installations of this story by clicking Sleep-Day One, Sleep-Day Two, and Sleep-Day Threesleeping-baby.jpg

8.10.06 So I am minding my own business (and my own busy-ness), wondering why God won’t give me direction for my future. I’m living the Type-A life, up in the wee hours and go ’til you drop late at night life, living to check things off the list that never ends daily. I’m physically run-down, emotionally weakened and I am innocently pondering the events of the day (while I stain bricks until sunset, nonetheless). I was remembering how Hunter couldn’t hear from us, receive from us, needed nothing from us until he could get sleep.  Just sleep.

I was on my patio as the sun was disappearing behind the mountains and the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, came to my mind.

1 Kings 17 – 21 In partial summary, Elijah was a power-house.  He had the favor of God and walked in great authority.  God used Elijah to tell King Ahab that a drought so severe was coming there wouldn’t even be dew.  King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had encouraged the worship of Baal and killed God’s prophets; God was not pleased.  Calling down this type of heavenly curse must wear you out because God made Elijah take some r & r, sending him to the brook Cherith where the ravens fed him morning and night and he drank water from the brook.

Elijah got the restoration he needed there and the brook dried up.  That was when he got his next instruction: to go to a widow at Zarephath, where he was not only part of a miracle of provision for her (her oil and flour did not run out until the drought was over because of Elijah), but when her son died later, Elijah prayed and God revived him.

Elijah was the guy who set up the public “testing” between Yahweh and Baal with the building of the 2 altars.  Ahab had called him a “troubler of Israel,” and Elijah put it back in Ahab’s court by saying that the king was the troubler by allowing the worship of false gods.

God proved Himself like Elijah said He would by showing up in fire on a water-drenched altar while Baal did not show up despite the hours of prayer and self-mutilation of the false god’s prophets.

Our God showed up!  He honored his prophet!

But when Elijah became the target of Jezebel’s rage after he ordered the deaths of her priests, he ran in fear.  He ran in fatigue.  He ran in exhaustion.  Elijah ended up under a tree taking a long nap, wishing he could just die.  That is tired!  I actually get that. That is whole and complete fatigue!

When Elijah was awakened by an angel and told to eat, he found a freshly baked cake and a container of water by is head.  He ate it and then went back to sleep. He wasn’t praying for purpose, begging God for his next assignment, ahem. He was just sleeping, then eating divinely prepared meals, then sleeping some more.

The angel woke him up again and told him he needed his strength so he should get up and eat again.  THAT food and THAT rest prepared him for the next 40 days of a tough journey.  But it wasn’t until after THAT food and THAT rest that he got his next instruction from God and went to a cave where God spoke clearly and decisvely to him.

The study notes in my Bible say of 1 Kings 19.11,12

“The Lord did not reveal Himself to Elijah in the spectacular ways by which He had shown Himself to Moses.  To this discouraged, despondent old prophet, God responds in gentleness.”

God did speak to him again, not in a great strong wind, or in an earthquake or even in a fire.  God spoke in a “still small voice,” or a “delicate whispering voice.”  Had Elijah not been quieted by a time of rest, had he remained in the endless, noisy cycle of boldly prophesying and working hard at it, he may have missed it – the very thing he needed most.


So here I am on my patio staining those ever-loving bricks on a hot summer night, remembering Hunter’s cries, pondering the prophet Elijah and it was becoming clear: I need sleep.  I am so tired.  I cannot find peace or comfort of any kind until I get sleep.  There is nothing anyone can offer me that will help me in any way until I get rest.  And, God is not going to give me my next directions until, through rest, I am in a better frame of mind.

B I N G O !

God got through to me.

This new idea, this thought that I neeeeeeeeeeeded sleep began echoing through my mind.  I even dreamed about it.  I was going to need proof that this was actually true and by the next day I was ready to find out. But for the moment, fireworks were going off in the sky of my heart like I was being granted some divine permission to indulge myself in something that was good for me – that God might still be pleased with me even if I wasn’t running myself ragged.  Could this be true?  What if I am not on my hyper-vigilant watch at every second – will the world cease to revolve correctly? Sadly, I would soon find, I had been living with somewhat of a God-complex. How embarrassing.

You may be thinking, “Good grief, of course sleep is from God.  Of course He wants you to live a rested life.  I have no trouble sleeping and not feeling guilt about it.”  Wonderful!  I wish you’d clued me in (though I probably wouldn’t have understood, anyway).

But some of you, my friends and family, are so tired you can barely read this.  You are holding your world together for all you are worth.  You are pleasing everyone and getting everything done and you dare not skip a beat or disaster will strike.  Rest is most definitely not a state of mind. It is a place in which you can live.  Think about these:

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest…be diligent to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4.1,11

“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet,” Proverbs 3.24.

On day 5, I will tell you what I found in black and white right there in the Bible about sleep and how God was trying to make sure I heard it fully, and actually had been for some time.

Hunter needed it, Elijah needed it, and it turns out, I was sorely in need of sleep, too.

Deliver us from from striving & our self-reliant pride, Lord.   Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF: Working for the Kingdom of God does not exempt me from His commands concerning the Sabbath and keeping it holy. It is pride to defy it. Word to all my friends and family in ministry. With love!

Read all the posts from this series:

Sleep, day three (Hunter & the Prophet Elijah)

Read the previous posts in this series: Sleep Day One, and Sleep, Day Two


So where were we in this little *lack of sleep and rest* story?

I had lost title, position, most of my marbles and any inkling of what God had in mind for my life.  I was madly volunteering for anything anyone would let me do, cleaning obsessively, weeding my yard (and maybe even a little of the neighbor’s), helping Rocky & Jovan with their upcoming nuptials and basically over-doing everything I could put my hand to.  I was up before the sun and didn’t, or should I say, “refused,” to stop until well after dark.  There were no leisurely lunches with my daughters for me, no playing in the pool with the grandkids.  I was suddenly “not working,” and all I knew was, if Jesus returns today, He will not find me sleeping or being lazy!

“work…for the night is coming…” – The BIBLE!

During this time, my vision was blurred, I was chronically swollen, my body ached everywhere it is possible to ache, my joints were locked up.  I didn’t feel well – ever.  This “time off” thing wasn’t working.

Amidst all the activity, I kept praying, asking: what next?  I wanted to know how God planned to use me, where I would next get to serve Him.  I cried about this a lot, but the heavens remained silent, no to-do list written in the clouds.

I felt miserable and broken and now even God had no use for me.  Couldn’t He see that I was a hard worker for the Kingdom?  He said He needed laborers for the harvest. Didn’t God understand that I would sacrifice pretty much everything to work for Him?  Hadn’t I proven this?  I couldn’t comprehend why He wouldn’t put me to work?

It was a very hot summer day in August

8.10.06. The Walgreens sign in town said 104 degrees.  My daughter Tara called. She and her husband, Dave, were bringing my adorable almost-2-year-old grandson Hunter to the house for a swim.  When they walked in the door a few minutes later, daddy carrying Hunter, the little guy seemed in a bit of a daze.  He had fallen asleep in the car and his face was pink from the sun, complete with car-seat sleep-creases.

As they prepared for the swim, his daddy set Hunter down to prepare a water bottle to take outside.  Hunter teetered and his body started to tremble.  He grabbed the legs of a kitchen stool and started to cry. But it wasn’t like any cry I had ever heard from him.  His face was red, agonized; a sorrowful, deep groaning-almost-scream came from within the depths of his little body.

Hunter had our attention immediately: mine, mommy’s and daddy’s.  I offered to scoop him up.  The cry poured out, he shook his head.  No.  Do you want a drink?  Water?  No.  Do you want lemonade?  No.  Do you want some pop?  No.  Do you want mommy?  Do you want daddy?  All we wanted in that split-second was to bring Hunter comfort, but nothing we were offering seemed to fill the bill.  We could not comfort him.  He was troubled beyond any simple outside fix. Hunter could not be comforted.

I know I am the nonna and everything, but Hunter, even at 20 months, was an unusually good-natured toddler.  There weren’t random meltdowns for no reason. He wasn’t throwing a fit; he wasn’t trying to get his way.

As it happened, they’d just had a really busy, on-the-go day and he’d missed his usual nap time.  They figured a refreshing swim and then a nice late-afternoon nap would be the ticket.  Unfortunately, he fell asleep in the car those few minutes before and he was past the point of exhaustion – his trembling body a true sign of that.  He needed rest right now, more specifically sleep.  Pure and simple – sleep was the answer. Until that happened, there was nothing else that could happen.

God was about to show me some things concerning sleep…

That evening as the sun was setting and I was out on the patio staining some bricks (yes, staining bricks…I know, I’m rolling my eyes now, too), I was remembering Hunter’s gut-wrenching and pathetic cries and how badly he was needing that nap.  I thought about how he could not be soothed because he was so tired and that nothing I had offered would or even could comfort him.

Immediately, out of the blue, I began to remember the story of Elijah.  This was a power-man out of the Old Testament if ever there was one.  He was bold and walked in the favor of God raising the dead and declaring miracles and ticking off government leaders by saying what God told him to say.  God backed him with so much authority that he could even change the weather.  But as I was sweating away staining my bricks and pondering Hunter’s gut-wrenching cry earlier in the day, God reminded me that even Elijah needed a good, long restorative nap.

More on Elijah later…

Do you need permission to rest and sleep in?  I give you mine.  I give you God’s.  Consider whether this constant state of activity in which you are living is where you have placed your confidence? Are you fully self-sufficient and is it the healthiest place? Is it a place of pride for you? Because, fair warning: God resists the proud. He gives grace (and naps) to the humble, though. So – think it through carefully…

Be blessed and be at rest today!  Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF: “...ask..where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls...”  Jeremiah 6.16 NKJV

Read all the posts from this series:

Sleep, day two (I hadn’t slept for almost 10 years)


SLEEP, Day One, click here for the previous post on this topic

This is part of my story

I had one of those sort of everything-in-your-life-changes-and-you-weren’t-expecting-it crisis events last summer, which I will not go into right now, but suffice it to say, I suddenly had “time on my hands.”  In theory, I could relax, get some things done around the house and catch up on projects if I wanted to.  Everyone I knew, especially my family – my kids and husband and my mom – kept telling me God was giving me this “opportunity” for some much-needed rest.


But I didn’t rest.  I couldn’t.  Especially since I suddenly wasn’t working at a paid position, I felt it was very important not to be lazy.  For whatever reason (a type-A dad?  our culture?  guilt?), the scriptures in the Bible about laziness and the sluggard blink as neon signs in my head.  When I “consider the ant…” I see that those little boogers just don’t stop.

Consider the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise. Proverbs 6.6

My value for years had been wrapped up in how much I could accomplish, how busy I was.  I couldn’t remember a conversation with anyone important in my life that wasn’t about how much we were doing, but how much we weren’t getting done.  I had been on an out-of-control roller coaster performer for my entire professional life and even when given a pause, a chance to float in the pool, I could not change the pace.

So, when this “time” became “available” to me, I filled it like the mad-woman, restless, Type-A maniac that I was and worked harder than ever cleaning, mopping, washing walls, scrubbing floors, edging the lawn – by hand!

By hour 12 or 13 in the day, I would be so sore I could barely move, but I didn’t want God or anyone else to catch me being lazy.  My “time off” was killing me!  The thing is, I hear people, especially women, talk about getting an extra day for themselves and yet they fill it with garage cleaning or some other big project and would never think about doing something restorative. Even though God used the 7th day to rest, we keep going like those annoying Energizer bunnies essentially refusing to enjoy the day to rest or “sleep in.”

So I know I am not alone.

When did you last sleep, really sleep, and wake up completely refreshed and restored without feeling guilty about it?  How many years have you been rest-less?

Our local Safeway has a used book table to raise funds for a non-profit group.  One morning by chance, I picked up a book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial & Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. by Richard Swenson, MD.  Here is what I saw as I leafed through it that made me wonder if there might be another way to live and convinced me to pay the 50 cents for it…

“We must have some room to breathe.  We need freedom to think and permission to heal.  Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity.  No one has time to listen, let alone love God.  Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions.  Is God now pro-exhaustion?  Doesn’t He lead people beside still waters anymore?

Something has been stolen from us that we can’t quite name.  Who plundered those wide-open spaces of the past, and how can we get them back?  There are no fallow lands for our emotions to lie down and rest in.  We miss them more than we suspect.”

I had a sense God might be trying to chase me down and teach me something, but He’d have to catch up with me first!

stick runner

My body was breaking down.  New physical symptoms of unhealthiness were cropping up weekly, one thing affecting another.  My marriage and all valuable relationships were badly damaged, starving to death in the wake of my obssesive activity level.  I wished I could be Mary in my relationship with God, but I could only understand Martha – somebody has to do the work!

But God in His grace was about to shine a light to expose my pride and sin against the Sabbath and also give me the gift of sleep – a gift I could have had earlier and one you get to have, too. This is a good thing. Believe me when I tell you.

Go ahead and yawn…imagine real rest, a blessing from God if ever there was one, Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Perhaps I’ll take a nap today…

Read all the posts from this series: