As I write this, it is 7:02 a.m. on the Sunday of the close of our Annual Conference. Mind you, I have been awake much longer than this and finally got out of bed just before 6:30 a.m. to have my devotional time in the presence of the Lord, before I began writing. For several weeks now, I have functioned on a few hours of sleep. I would be tired and go to bed “early” (between 10:00 – 10:30 p.m.) but would wake up in the wee hours of the morning like, “I’ve only been asleep 3 or 4 hours”. I know sleep is important and needed, but there are times and seasons where you may have to forgo sleep and burn the midnight oil to complete an assignment. Once the assignment is done, you can catch up on your rest.
There was a time in my life when I would have been extremely concerned about not getting enough sleep because not only was I not sleeping, I was not resting. I was not resting because I was trying to work things out in my own strength. The Word says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). Well, there have been many times that I have leaned on my own understanding. Purposefully neglecting to have my mind stayed on Jesus so that he would keep me in perfect peace. I was worrying up a storm even though, one of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:6 which says in NRSV, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Know that if you are worrying you cannot sleep or rest. But if you cast all your cares on Jesus, the one who cares for you, he will give you rest. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NRSV). Jesus says, “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” (Matthew 11:29 NRSV)
There is a difference between sleep and rest. Sleep is defined as: a natural temporary state of rest during which an individual becomes physically inactive and unaware of the surrounding environment and many bodily functions (as breathing) slow. Rest as a noun, is defined as an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity. Rest as a verb, is defined as cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. A good night’s sleep usually provides the rest you need to have a balanced productive day. But there are seasons – kairos moments – when you cannot afford to sleep for 6 – 8 hours uninterrupted.
If you are a boss lady or a boss guy, you have things to do, places to go and people to see. But if you try to do it all in your natural strength, you will crash and burn fast. But if you operate in the strength of the Lord, he will give you rest; he will KEEP you in perfect peace. When you wake up early, it will not be because you are worrying. It will be because the Lord has given you Godly wisdom to carry out your God-given assignment and you must capture it; document it so you can execute it accurately.
When you abide in the Father he will give you rest. Exodus 33:14 says, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest”. Isaiah 40:31, another one of my favorite scriptures says, “but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Yes, when you wait on the Lord, he will relax you, refresh you and recover your strength.
Wait doesn’t mean sitting around twiddling your thumbs doing nothing. It is an active wait – live like you expect something from the Lord. That is why I like the NIV translation which says, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Keep your hope up as you rest in the presence of the Lord!!!