Sleep Is Not Refreshing

I’ve been reading through Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan to my kids.  We do a few pages at the breakfast table in the mornings.  I know they’re young, but I’m hoping to go through it several times over the coming years, and I pray that the spiritual truths will slowly sink into their hearts.  In the meantime, they’re captivated by an exciting story like I was at their age.

I just pulled out a fascinating little nugget from this story for myself that I wanted to share.  For those of you not familiar with this story, it is a beautiful allegory of our Christian walk with the Lord, depicted through the tale of a man named Christian who takes a journey from his City of Destruction to Mount Zion and of all the adventures and encounters he has along the way.

The part that really struck me a few days ago was the bit about the Hill of Difficulty.  Christian is climbing this hill, and it’s really tough going.  He has to pull himself up this mountainside on his hands and knees, and he is brutally exhausted.  On the side of the road is an arbor that God made to provide him with some rest, so he steps off the road for a moment to sit on this little bench and take a break.  He pulls out a scroll with words from Jesus that was given to him when he received his salvation and means to encourage and refresh himself a little from the hard journey.  What really happens is that he’s so worn out he falls asleep, and when he does, he drops his scroll under the bench.  He wakes up several hours later, in horror that he’s slept the afternoon away, and rushes off to make it to shelter before night fall.  As he’s traveling along, he meets some men who are terrified of lions up ahead.  He wants to fight his fears with the words of Jesus but he realizes he doesn’t have his scroll anymore.  As it’s his ticket into Mount Zion, he has to go back and get it.  He retraces his steps in tears and prayers and finally finds it under the bench where he slept and repents to the Lord for falling asleep before continuing on his way.

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This is a photograph of an illustration from the Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress edition released by the Moody Bible Institute in 1960.

Now, as a child, I could never understand why Christian would repent for falling asleep on the bench.  I mean it was placed there for him to get a rest, and if he was tired, wasn’t a nap a good thing?  But now as an adult, I get it.  He was in a trial in his life, and it was really, really hard.  It was totally wearing him out, and he needed a moment to catch his breath before his difficulty got the better of him and he gave out in the middle of the road.  God provided a moment of rest for him, time he was supposed to use to refresh his spirit by connecting with the Lord through the word, and instead he fell asleep.  Instead of digging deeper into the Lord and finding strength for the journey ahead, he loses his focus, he stops keeping watch and drops his connection to Jesus.  And when he does wake up and remember he’s supposed to be moving forward, this forgetfulness causes him to lose time by having to retrace his steps.

How many times have I done this?  I’m so worn out by fighting my spiritual battles, by climbing my hills of difficulty, that when God gives me a breather, a few days of rest, I use it to pull away from Him, to forget everything, to forget to connect deeper to Jesus and just wander away spiritually and mentally.  Then when it’s time to resume my fight again, I’ve lost ground because I’ve forgotten what I’ve learned and need to retrace my steps again.  This was such a powerful reminder to me that just because things get a little easier for a moment, that doesn’t mean I should loosen my tenacious grip on the Lord, even for a second.  The time of peace should be used to dig in deeper and bring strength to myself through my connection with Jesus during in my quiet times.  I’m going to need that strength and that connection again when I resume my road, which always comes sooner than I expect.  It’s time to stop falling asleep.

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Major Milestone!

I am so excited and proud to report that William has officially transferred to his bed for night time sleeping.  I don’t know if I have ever been so relieved to get our bed back just to the two of us!  He’s doing alright with it.  He still cries for a few minutes, but then he lays down and goes to sleep, with only one appropriately timed nighttime feeding.  My neck and back are grateful, and I’m actually starting to get some sleep at night again.  Michael and Gabriel are also settling down and not waking up so much in the middle of the night either, and Nate is looking a little fresher himself.  Nothing like a good night’s sleep, right?

William still has problems with napping during the day.  He will sit in his crib and rock and cry instead of sleeping despite the fact that he is clearly tired, but even though it’s painstakingly slow, he’s making some progress on that end as well, and there is loads to celebrate!

Thank you all so much for praying for us, and Thank you, Jesus, for sustaining me and keeping me calm and going through a time of severe sleep deprivation.

Pulling A Miracle

I know I haven’t been writing as regularly as I would like here.  Sleep training William makes me feel like I’m descending into my own personal circle of hell with all the screaming and crying and sleep deprivation.  Every time I want to quit, he gives me a decent day or night, so we press on, but I have to say I cannot wait till this is over.  I know it’s only been 5 and a half days, but it feels like a stinking year.

(Side note: To everyone who tells me I will miss these days, I smile and nod, but I just can’t believe you yet.  Maybe one day wisdom and hindsight will teach me differently.  I hope you’re right.)

I’m just sort of plodding along, trying to keep us all alive until that time when things are better, and this has unfortunately affected my walk with God too.  Sometimes you just are too tired to have a good quiet time.  But He is every loving and gracious and giving me what I need for each day, whether I realize it or not.  Just this morning, I read the story in Matthew when Jesus tells his disciples to feed a crowd of 5,000, and they tell Him they can’t with only the few loaves and fish they have, but Jesus does a miracle and takes care of everyone anyway.

I feel like that now.  Making it through a day with all the screaming, crying, meltdowns, and tantrums that happen regularly… well, you might as well be asking me to single-handedly feed 5,000 people.  I tell God, I’m only working with four hours of sleep, two hands, and one very short temper.  I just can’t make it stretch that far.  But through this story, He is assuring me again, that whatever I have to give Him will be enough, He’ll take care of the rest.

Between you and me, I really can’t wait to see how He pulls this one off.

Searching For True Rest

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I keep praying for the Lord to show me what this looks like in my life, especially in these high stress days of no sleep.  I think sometimes having the ability to reach out to someone who is greater and more powerful and in control than I am is a start.  I figure the only way to truly know this aspect of Jesus though is to be in a time of unrest.

So here we are, I’m waiting for my lesson!

Today we have three therapy sessions, and I bought 40 pounds of chicken last night that need butchering.  Should be fun. 🙂

A Missed Miracle

Matthew 8 has that story we all know, when Jesus healed two men by casting their demons into a herd of pigs which then stampede into the water and drown.  The pig herders run to town, tell everyone what happened, and then they all beg Jesus to leave.  As a kid, it always bothered me that Jesus would just take away those pigs from the poor herders who only happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I mean, that was their livelihood, right?  But now as I think about it, why were Jews herding pigs?  It’s not like they were supposed to be eating them or even really be around them.

I wonder, could it be that the real miracle was that Jesus was trying to help out this town that kept pigs?  Could He have been trying to purge something from their lives that was keeping them from getting closer to God?  It didn’t look like a vice or an addiction, it was a job they were probably working very hard at, and it was something they took seriously as we can see from the way they reacted.  They couldn’t see the miracle.  They couldn’t see what Jesus was trying to do in their lives.

Am I the same way?  Are you the same way?  Is God doing something in our lives, but we can’t see it for what it is, and so we resist?  It’s uncomfortable, it shakes up our paradigm too much, so we get angry and ask God to get us out of that situation.

I’m praying the Lord changes my heart and helps me not to resist the good things He is trying to do, even if I can’t see them for what they are yet.