Sleep is a good thing. Who doesn’t like sleep? Who wouldn’t want just a few more minutes of it? As a parent of two young children, I know I do. When my kids don’t get the sleep they need, their attitude changes. Their irritability goes up. In one sense sleep helps keep things in the right balance. Spiritually speaking, sleep helps keep things in perspective.
Pride, a fundamental part of our human experience, tells us how important we are. We begin to see ourselves not as we ought, as equals with the rest of our human brothers and sisters. We find our gifts and talents a little better than someone else’s. I’m familiar with pride, and I’m willing to bet anyone who reads this is too. What does this have to do with sleep?
At least two things happen when we sleep that, I believe, are good for us spiritually. Admittedly, I’m assuming we are looking at our lives beyond the level of mere physicality, but the higher levels of our lives. In my opinion everything is spiritual, not just the nice church services we attend or quite time we practice. As Lewis once said, fundamentally we are souls with a body, not physical bodies that have souls. Our souls will live on. So, what are those good things that happen when we sleep?
First, we admit and realize we are incapable of doing all things. We are not invincible. Sleep reminds us of our need for rest and our bodies’ inability to accomplish every task we assign it. In other words, we are limited. But, this is a good thing. We need to be reminded that despite our most sincere of opinions, we are limited. We can only do so much.
Second, we (and here I’m referring to our own consciousness) are not as necessary as we think. When I drift into the boundless dream world, all that is necessary to keep me alive keeps on doing its’ thing while I’m oblivious to it. I keep breathing. My heart keeps beating. Wounds are healing. All this happens while I (conscious self) am doing nothing. What’s different than the day time? Not much. Only when we are awake we are conscious of all that is happening around us. When we sleep, we are no longer conscious of what’s happening, yet, it still does. Again, I want this reality to teach me humility in that I’m not in as much control of life as I’d like to think. I cannot think and make my heart stop, or my lungs cease completely. To do those things, I would need outside help.Essentially, I’m trying to say that I don’t even keep myself alive!
The Psalmist writes (Ps 3:5):
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
Lying down, sleeping, and waking are essentially not my own doing. They are the Lord’s. I’m ultimately living under the sovereignty of God. While I think I’m all-powerful, a time will come, and probably with the next 20 hours, where I will do something which will tell me plainly that I’m not. I’ll go to bed.
May we see the lessons about reality all around us, even in the most mundane of things.