Friday, September 28, 2012

Now I lay me down to sleep...

You know babies...

They can sleep. I mean, they can sleep anywhere. Anytime.

When Leah was a newborn, she could sleep ALL day long. An atomic bomb could have gone off, and she would have continued sleeping.

My three kids are all very different. Lori and Leah are the talkative, friendly, bossy ones, while Benjamin is the quiet observer. It amazes me how personality reveals itself even in sleep.

Leah, Miss High Maintenance, requires everything just so. There will be no sleep until the bathroom door is cracked and propped open, her My Little Pony blanket is tucked snugly in place, two prayers are said word for word, at least one story is read, and the room has been thoroughly inspected for cats (which are perfectly acceptable during daytime naps, but not at night.). After the routine, usually performed somewhere around 12:00 a.m., don't make the mistake of forgetting the hug and kiss. If you do, Leah will get out of bed and insist on it...and the routine begins again. For a minimum of 30 minutes after, Jonathan and I will lay in bed and giggle as Leah sings herself to sleep...LOUDLY, with songs she has made up herself. With Leah, bedtime has always been a pain.

Benjamin, on the other hand, needs his nightlight, Mr. Blue Blanket, and his light-up Glo-E bear (not lit up. He likes to know that he can light it up if he wants to. Weird). He will sit serenely in his bed sucking his thumb until he passes out.

Lori is the escape artist. Jonathan and I have often remarked that Lori is the kid who does everything that our other kids never did. Color on the walls? Yep. Lori did it. Potty trained at two? Yep. That was Lori. Climbed out of bed? Also Lori. Lori climbs out of bed at least three times before she is settled in. She makes up assorted excuses...usually "I need to go potty"(three times within 5 minutes...either she has the world's smallest bladder or she doesn't want to sleep...You decide). Lori also sleeps in something more like a nest than a bed. While at the fair last week, working a concert for Compassion, Jonathan and I passed by all the booths where you can win giant stuffed animals, we saw a pig roughly the size of our coffee table and remarked "Lori needs that!" You see, she is hoarder, and given the opportunity, she would have had that giant pig in her bed with her. Last week, I cleaned out her bed and inventoried the contents...1. 3 stuffed Minnie Mouses 2. 3 stuffed pigs (mama, papa, and baby) 3. 3 stuffed dalmations (also a family unit) 4. a Nerf dart gun 5. 7 hardcover books 6. 4 pillows 7. 2 blankets 8. A tea service for four 9. Two handfuls of little junk toys. Amazingly, she KNOWS when I remove something!! Ten minutes later, I'll see her calmy go and retrieve her displaced bedfellow, all the while giving me a surprisingly filthy scowl for one so young. Sometimes, I'll go in to wake her up and I can't tell where the stuff ends and Lori begins.

All this got me to thinking, wondering, why we humans are like that. As much as I might want to deny it, I have my own sleep patterns too. For couch naps, I construct a nest of pillows placed just so and cover up with one particular blanket. For bed, I must have two pillows, NO noise, and Jonathan. Without those three things, sleep is practically impossible.


When do we lose the amazing ability to "sleep like a baby?" At peace, trusting that the world, or some version of it, will still be there when we wake up...

What is at that we are afraid of? Is it robbers? Is it monsters? Or is it the fact that, for a little while, we will be slipping into a state that requires us to abandon control?? I think that may be it.

Fear is a hungry, gnawing thing. If we gave in completely, we would never close our eyes. We fear all kinds of things that "go bump in the night" in the most relatively safe country in the world. In general, most of us don't fear wild animals, genocide, or human trafficking. We are not looking forward to a tomorrow with no food, more sickness, and less hope. Yet even here, fear chews on our hearts.

I think of the story in Matthew 8 where Jesus (the only time I know about) is actually sleeping. It is happening in a crusty old boat full of crustier fisherman in the middle of a wild and horrific storm. Yet there is Jesus, sleeping like a baby, in the bottom of the boat. Clearly, he is not bothered.

But His disciples are.

When the storm gets bad enough, they wake Jesus up. "What's wrong with You?? YOU are sleeping and we are DYING here!!!" they shout.

Jesus is clearly not impressed. With a word, he shuts down the storm. And shuts up the disciples. And leaves them wondering what kind of man (if He is a man) is sitting in their boat.

How was it possible for Jesus to be at absolute rest in the most tumultuous of situations? I've seen my own babies at rest like this. Sometimes, the more chaotic, the better for them. When they were small, they weren't afraid. They didn't know how to be. Don't you sometimes wish you hadn't learned?

Jesus, and babies, are serenely aware of something we often are not. Life is outside of our control. But NOTHING happens that is outside of God's control. There is NO situation that He can't handle. Fear has no place with the Lord of the universe. Wasn't fear one of the first (and worst) aftershocks of sin? When God came looking for Adam and Eve in the garden, didn't Adam reply, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid..." (Genesis 3:10). In Scripture, God is constantly reminding us "Don't be afraid!" We get the precious words from the mouth of Jesus, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid."--John 14:27

So whatever it is in your life that has you paralyzed in fear...pour some truth into that wound.

God is in control. Like a baby asleep in his mother's arms, God is holding you close. He is supremely concerned with your needs. This isn't to say that nothing bad will ever happen to you. It just means that if you wake up and your world is forever changed, God is there. If you wake up to sickness, to pain, even to death...God has it all under control.

So we can stop nest-building, toy-hoarding, pillow-hugging, and worry-warting, because "He who watches over you will not slumber" (Psalm 121:3).

So tonight, after you brush your teeth, kiss your loved ones, and finish off your routine, whatever that may be, pray the prayer of faith, the prayer of thanks, that tells God "I'm not going to be afraid of tomorrow..."

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." --Psalm 4:8

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