My terrible sleeping habits started in college. and only got worse from there. I worked second shift in a factory and didn’t get off until 11pm. I worked close at McDonald’s and would get home at 4am. Of course, when one gets off of work, it’s not simply go home and go to bed. It’s go home and unwind for a while before going to bed. I went back to work second sift at the factory again. Then we had our first child, so when I would get home and take my turns up in the night (my wife might argue me on this one). Then I went to graduate school … while working full time … so … more late nights. Of course, being a youth pastor, many of our events and activities are in the evenings, so … I have been a night owl for a good 20 years now. But, honestly, I feel the drain. I know I don’t get enough sleep. The third lesson I was reminded of on this trip was the importance of rest.
While going on a canoe and camping trip isn’t necessarily a recipe for comfort and sleep (paddling all day definitely makes one tired, but sleeping in a tiny tent on nothing more than a 1/4″ pad while trying not to bump one’s big ole 6′ 4″ tent mate doesn’t lead to the best night’s sleep), it did prove to be restful in a much deeper sense of the word. Indeed, I did find myself going to bed earlier and waking earlier, but the rest I received was more holistic. I experienced the shalom – the peace – of God. The trip provided me with a week of stress relief, quiet from the noises of daily life and responsibilities, and most of all, a time to rest emotionally and re-center myself in God.
Psalm 62:1, 5 – “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him … Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.”
As I found rest in the Lord, He assured me of His intense love for me as His child, and in light of that love He helped me reflect on areas of my life that were out of alignment with His best and need of my attention, including my sleep patterns.
I know that my physical condition affects my mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual conditions (See post: The Life of the Body). So, ever since I have returned home, I have been more intentional about getting to bed earlier, and I have definitely felt the affects in my body. I have felt less tired, less stressed and that has allowed me to be more alive and present during the day.