Today, I’m pleased to welcome popular author and speaker, Margaret Feinberg. She is a dear friend whose wise words and generous character encourage me often. It was Chapter 4: A Sanctuary in Time from her most recent book, Wonderstruck: Awakening to the Nearness of God that inspired me to start the Sabbath Society. I’m giving away a copy of Wonderstruck to one person who leaves a comment. The winner will be announced on Thursday.
Sleep deprivation takes a heavy toll on our minds and bodies. Scientists show that insufficient amounts of sleep affect the part of the brain that controls language, memory, sense of time, and our ability to plan. In addition, the body performs less efficiently and isn’t able to recharge the immune system as well. But lack of sleep also affects our spiritual lives.
When I’m physically tired, weary, or stressed, then I’m less likely to live with an awareness of the Holy Spirit in my life. I discover:
My morning times of study and prayer become more rushed.
I passed by countless people without really seeing them—or their needs.
I rushed by moments of grace and God’s goodness unaware.
I hush the Holy Spirit’s nudges by responding, “I don’t have time.”
Years ago someone asked me, “What’s the biggest thing that causes you to sin?” I considered the temptation to overeat at a fancy buffet, the advertisement of that sexy shirtless guy, the juiciness of gossip, the enticement of breaking the rules, the pride that so easily creeps into our hearts, and much more. Temptation takes so many different forms. But as I reflected on the thing that causes me to sin the most, I only had one answer:
Lack of sleep.
That may sound silly at first glance, but when I don’t get enough sleep, I’m more likely to stumble into any temptation before me. The resolve to stay strong, remain pure, or be courageous melts away. Without enough rest, I become increasingly impatient and unloving, more susceptible to fear, and easily angered.
Through rest I’m in a better place to receive the grace of God to overcome these temptations. With enough sleep, I can more easily locate the way of escape from a sticky situation as described in 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Apart from the divine gift of downtime and Sabbath, I cannot fully awaken to the presence of God. Rest refreshes our physical bodies, expands our mental capacities, and increases our spiritual awareness. Below is a list of ways rest makes me more attuned to God. A
- I’m more likely to retain passages of Scripture I read and study.
- I’m more attentive to what people are really saying to me—using both verbal and nonverbal cues—to understand the deeper needs.
- I’m more likely to pause to consider a Christ-like response to a sticky situation.
- I’m more ready to reorient my day to the whispers of the Holy Spirit.
One of the most powerful ways rest awakens me to God is simply in the reminder that He is God and I am not. By taking time—even if only a portion of a day—to stop working and rest, I’m reminded that God holds all things together. Not me. Rest helps reorient my life Godward. Often when I rest, I’ll awaken to a different perspective. The item or detail I thought was oh-so-important didn’t need as much attention. But the thing I had overlooked suddenly became essential.
I find comfort in knowing that despite the countless demands on Jesus’ time and the importance of His ministry—He still takes time away to rest and reconnect with God through prayer. Pulling away from the everyday demands is essential.
Sometimes we can convince ourselves that unless we can get a two-week vacation or an entire weekend off we can’t experience the rest, rejuvenation, and reorientation God wants to give us. But God can do amazing things with only small pockets of time.
Jesus extends the invitation to come away. In Mark 6:31, Jesus instructs His followers to “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest for a while.” The word oligos in the Greek that’s translated “a while” actually means “little, small, few”. I love this detail! Because it means God can do great things with only a sliver of time.
Don’t miss the invitation to come away with Christ to be renewed and restored.
Reflecting on Mark 6:31, how is Jesus making this invitation to you right now? What’s stopping you from responding?
Margaret Feinberg is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive and Extraordinary Women. Her books and Bible studies have sold over 600,000 copies including The Organic God, Scouting the Divine, and Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God. Margaret currently lives in Morrison, Colorado, with her husband, Leif and their superpup, Hershey.
This post adapted from Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God DVD Bible Study. For a sneak peek, click here.