Friday, February 29, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 21: Sleep

I definitely felt that it was Friday today. I was up late last night due to the water heater issues, up early to drive a friend to the airport, and then working long while waiting for Mitch and George to arrive at bus depot. By the end of the work day, I could feel how my brain wasn’t firing near as fast or well. Even though I was able to program without any operational issues, work wasn’t fun. Talking with Kara on the phone, I was short and crabby. I had hid the wall, and needed a nap before taking in tonight’s festivities with Mitch and George.

While drifting to sleep in the parked Volvo, I started thinking about Jesus and tiredness. Gospel writer’s don’t record him talking about the subject much. There’s the great story of Jesus falling asleep at the front of the boat despite some rough seas. Clearly Jesus got tired and slept. But I wonder if tiredness wasn’t as big of a deal in their electricity-less culture. When night-time hit, there wouldn’t have been a whole lot to do. No computers or television. While possible, walking around wouldn’t have been pleasant. There’s only so much you’ll do before candle-light. So, I suppose it’s valid to assume that sleep was more regular and plentiful in their day-to-day lives. Consequently, sleep would have had to have been more present, and thus unnecessary to talk about.

One particularly interesting situation with Jesus and sleep is in the garden on the night he was betrayed. Jesus is on his knees praying through the night, and a few times comes back to check on the disciples, only to find them sleeping. You can read the story here. What sticks out to me is when Jesus says “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Jesus’ words are incredibly practical for those of us caught in a sleep-deprived culture. Jesus acknowledges that out inner self may want to persevere, but is tied with a body that has weakness. As a result, Jesus says to watch out and pray so that we don’t fall victim to the body’s weakness. It’s not 100% clear what temptation Jesus is speaking to. The surrounding context would be the temptation of denying Christ to save oneself ridicule or punishment. There’s the temptation to selfishly look after one’s own need (in this case being tired), despite being asked by a treasured friend and mentor to keep watch while he is distressed to the point of death. Jesus is pointing out a weakness so that we can work around it, not be bit by it. To not be owned, Jesus directs us to watch and pray. Watching and praying are really one continuous action. Applying this to sleep, notice your condition, be in communication with God about it. This sets us up to know when we need to say no so we can rest and whether we need to be extra mindful of depending God to get us over the hump of a present challenge (like the disciples needed in the garden).

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