Sleep, God’s Precious Gift

I woke up one morning still exhausted after just five hours sleep. Wearily I picked up my copy of the Daily Bread Devotional and read, “During sleep, God has an opportunity to heal us, to renew us, even to rearrange our minds.” I read the sentence a second time. I thought, during sleep God is busy working within me. I knew that healing happens while our bodies are at rest but I’d never thought about God rearranging my mind. God must really enjoy having a free hand with me while I sleep. God wouldn’t have much chance rearranging my mind when I’m awake. Concerns, plans, ideas constantly flood my mind.

Still, I’ve always considered sleep a waste of time. Grudgingly, I drag myself off to bed at twelve or one a.m. Even though I’m retired I’m happiest when I’m up again by six-thirty.  I wondered, does God get frustrated when I totally disregard my need for sleep? What makes me think that my work, no matter how necessary and valuable, my ministry of caring, even my pleasure (when I party or read until 2:00 a.m.) is more important than God’s work within me while I sleep? I’ve always thought of sleep as one of the ways that I care for this body God has given me. Never before had I considered rationing my sleep time as getting in God’s way, as causing God frustration, as cramping God’s work to transform me. Many young parents become sleep deprived as they care for their children and fulfill their responsibilities. Maybe, besides prayer, we could offer the gift of child care while they sleep.

I reread the devotional. Thank you for reminding me, I thought. Sleep is God’s gift. I need to receive it with gratitude. “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.”  (Psalm 127:2)

Love Letters

 

God’s Valentine Gift for All of Us

We receive very few letters in the mail anymore. Many of us have shifted to communicating in short notes by email and phone conversations. When I open the mail box, I expect to be greeted by bills, circulars and newspapers. I remember when the envelopes in the mail box contained stories of my friend’s life. She’d send lovely long letters, written like a journal over several weeks. I looked forward to those letters and the news and laughter they carried.

Last year, another friend gave me a bundle of letters she found in a desk in the home of her uncle Wes, after he died. Addressed to lady friend, obviously at the beginning of a relationship, they express a hope for a life together that never happened. Even though Wes married someone else, he saved the letters. Maybe he wondered what life might have been like if he had pursued that road.

For me the Bible is a love letter from God. In passages like Isaiah 43:1-5, God says “I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you…” These are statements of commitment and love. Too often, we see the Bible only as a book of rules to be obeyed, or a story of judgment to be feared, or both. We set it aside to gather dust. We forget that first and foremost the Bible is God’s love letter to us. When we’re feeling hurting and alone, the Bible offers comfort and assurance. When we’ve lost our way, the Bible provides comfort. But like the letters in Wes’ desk, God’s Biblical letters can only speak of the promise of relationship. They’re only words on a page until we read them and accept God’s love.

“I have called you by name, you are mine.”  (Isaiah 43: 1b)

For more reflections by Janet Stobie go to www.janetstobie.com

With God, A Tiny Drop Can Make A Big Ripple!

This is the first time I’ve been stuck at home because of a physical injury on Ash Wed. I’d like to be up and going but I must find value in being still.

The scripture I was offered from Daily Disciplines this morning talks about prayer. Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6) I know this is only one of the instructions Jesus gave us for prayer but it is the instruction I need for today.

I cannot attend an Ash Wednesday service, but I can pray here in my quiet home. I can focus on God. Many times I have told parishioners in nursing homes who were feeling useless, that they can have a ministry of prayer.

Today, I will begin my ministry of prayer. I will focus on God, and pray for healing for myself, and my family. I will follow that with prayer for specific friends, and then reach out to people I don’t know, farmers who provide our food, factory workers, ministers, community leaders. Gradually I will enlarge my circle of prayer to Canada as a whole and her leaders, the U.S., trouble spots in the world, and the world as a whole. I will pray for all of creation.

In my mind I can see the power of prayer spreading outward like the waves ripple out from a tiny drop of water. Yes the water will smooth again, but it will not be the same. It will contain one more drop. I believe that there will be a different energy composition in the world because of my prayers today. It may be small, or it may be monumental. This may be the day that one world leader needs the tiny nudge from my prayer to act compassionately, or this may be the day when one troubled teen needs that extra blessing of my prayer to choose to life rather than death.

I may be stuck here in this chair today, but I can pray. I believe that God will use the love I offer in my prayers to bring goodness to the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to pray my injury has given me. For today, for these moments I’ll set aside my frustration and peacefully pray.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, why don’t you do the same?

Aging Gracefully

Three weeks ago, my Tom’s beloved mother, Rita, died. Rita was ninety-six, a good age. She’d lived long and well. Over the last ten years, the time that I have known her, she moved from a senior’s residence to a full care nursing home. Although she was ready for this next life with God, we will miss her.

One of the blessings she leaves with me is the inner joy that she carried right to the end. Every time we visited her, she greeted us with a smile that would light up the room. That smile drew us back to her over and over again. Even when her hearing had all but disappeared and conversation had become difficult, her joyous greeting wrapped us in love.

Growing old requires tremendous courage. It becomes a process of letting go. Eyesight and hearing become dim and walking becomes difficult. Maintaining our joy in life requires determination. I’ve no scientific proof, but my experience with the elderly tells me that as we age, our personalities intensify. A number of years ago, I decided that it’s valuable to live a life of gratitude. Already, I’m finding it easier and easier to be thankful. I’m grateful that my knees still work well enough to dance. I’m grateful that my hearing aids have restored my hearing. I’m grateful that we have grandchildren growing up and stepping out into the world. I’m grateful for family and friends. I’m grateful for my church family and the list goes on. If I live to be ninety-six like Rita, and a smile is all I have left to give, I’ll be grateful for that smile.

I suggest that you take a look at your life. What is the main focus of your personality? Do you want it to intensify as you age? If not, I suggest you seek out a new focus that will stand the test of time.

“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18)

 

For more reflections by Janet Stobie go to www.janetstobie.com