In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD,
make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8 TNIV).
Rest has never been one of my strengths. I grew up in a "get it done now" environment where laying around was considered "lazing" around — with other not so nice terms used to describe it. I've never been much of a sleeper, either. So as I have aged, and hopefully also matured in faith, I've been confronted with some of God's principles that I have ignored to my own detriment. I'm trying to let these principles have way in my life, but fifty years of living out of sync with these principles has made this transition hard.
These principles can be called the rhythms of creation — one day of rest every seven (Genesis 2:1-3), day begins with evening and then morning (Genesis 1:5-31 says this six times), and the power of the words of God to give life (Genesis 1:3-31 says this at least 9 times). Whether one embraces these as Laws to be upheld or rhythms to be observed, I believe we ignore them doing harm to our families, our culture, and ourselves.
One of these great rhythms, evening and then morning as the definition of a day, is very foreign to us in modern culture. Modern culture assumes that the day begins in the morning. We rise up to go work, to be productive, to get stuff done, to make our mark on the world, to accomplish great acts, and to make our way up the ladder of success. Night is something we have pushed back as much as possible or it has become the time to carouse and go wild. We light up the nighttime as much as possible because we see rest and sleep as a waste of time and an intrusion into our productive time and our party time.
Is this good? Is it right? Is it healthy? And much more to the point, is it what God wants for us?
If we listen to the broad strokes of God's story in Scripture, we find there is a basic rhythm to everything the Father has done to bless us. He offers us his grace and then calls for our response — obedience, action, worship, and holiness. Look at these big examples and see the stroke of our Father's gracious brush:
- The gift of creation, then our call to work and live obediently in it.
- The deliverance from Egypt, then our call to be the LORD's holy people as articulated in the Law and the 10 Commandments.
- The sending of the Son, then our call to follow and live obediently as Christ's presence.
So, we shouldn't be surprised that one of the great underlying themes of grace in the opening chapter of the Bible follows this same broad brushstroke — grace and then action, "there was evening and there was morning."
Amazingly, most Bible-believing folks have never even noticed this, much less thought about the grace of this principle. Jewish people and the first Christians, however, held to this principle of time. The new day began for them at sundown. They seemed to understand that God made our day to start with rest. God blesses us with evening to be in his presence, to rest from our labors, to be with family, and to rest in his grace. Only after enjoying and being blessed with this grace are we called to get up and do productive labor in the second part of the day, daylight.
This understanding of a day and God's grace in giving it to us, leads me to ask some serious questions of myself:
- Why have I so easily dismissed this important principle?
- Why have I turned down this lovely gift?
- Why have I simply deemed this perspective as a cultural expression of time rather than a rhythm God created for us to bless us?
- Why have I accepted the morality of the holy God and not his view of time?
As I struggle with my own tendency to "work myself into the ground," I find many people all around me who are doing the same. In our frantic pace to do something important and be something significant, we have overlooked what God wanted most for us and from us — to walk with us in the cool of the evening (Genesis 3:8) and bless us with resting in his presence (Psalm 4:8), and let him remind us of how we are precious and wonderful to him (Psalm 139:14).
So what are we going to do about it? How should a change in perspective on this principle of time change our attitudes and behaviors?
Hmm! I'd like to hear from you and see what you have to say. Let me hear from you on my Heartlight Blog:
Until then, I hope you celebrate the sundown of a new day this evening.