My sweet husband is the most dysfunctional sleeper. Not to confess that over him, but truly, he can barely piece together two consecutive nights of quality sleep. It’s been that way for the fifteen years we’ve been married. He’s tried everything natural and over-the-counter, and most recently, a prescription medicine for shaky leg syndrome left him with a violent case of the hiccups. Not only did he not sleep, but I didn’t either as spasm after spasm pierced the air and shook the bed! After that fiasco, I finally went undercover, literally, and tried something we dismissed as ludicrous for years because it was simply to simple: a bar of soap under the sheets. Guess what? It worked! He slept like a baby for a week before he even knew it was there. I have no idea what compelled someone to try soap under the sheets or why it works, but we sleep with two bars just for good measure.
I, on the other hand (and much to his annoyance), can achieve REM asleep within twenty seconds of my head hitting the pillow. Last week, however, I felt his pain when insomnia plagued me several nights in a row. I raided his stash of failed natural remedies to see if one might help me regain instant snoozability. I tried reading to make myself sleepy. To no avail. After several nights of this, I managed to fall asleep at a somewhat decent hour, only to wake myself up thirty minutes later screaming at the top of my lungs. I don’t remember what was happening in my dream. All I remember is the terror I felt as I came to and the perplexed face of my husband as he tried to wake me from my nightmare. I laid there indefinitely waiting for my heart rate to return to normal, apologizing to James again and again because I just knew he had only then fallen asleep and would now struggle to regain a state of slumber, and praying the dream would not recur.
The next night, bedtime approaching, I found myself piddling. Avoiding the inevitable. I was frustrated with chasing sleep, and I DID NOT want to experience another nightmare. I was scared! As my eyes betrayed my exhaustion, I decided to give it a try. I’d just read a Christian novel until my eyelids were too heavy to hold open. Something that didn’t require thought and would distract me from obsessing. Then the thought occurred to me: Read scripture, not fiction. Though my body continued what I was doing, my spirit paused. Scripture held the answer. To quiet my mind. To calm my fears. To produce sleep. Rest.
I crawled in bed with my iPad and pulled up Psalm twenty-three. It’s the first one to come to mind for comfort. Sort of an old “stand by.”
Sleepy but wide a awake, I started to read.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (verse one).
Thank you, Lord, that You watch over me. Thank you that I shall not want for sleep.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters” (verse two).
Lord, as I fear sleep for the bad dreams it can bring, make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside still waters.
“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (verse three).
My spirit paused again.
Peace pierced me as I read His words. The truth of His voice setting me free. It was my soul that craved restoration. That needed renewal. Assurance. Help. He would be the One to turn my desires, emotions, mind, will, and very substance back to Him.
That’s it, Lord! My soul needs to be restored! Lord, forgive my sins and cleanse me now as I rest in You. Restore my soul. Lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake!
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me” (verse four).
Lord, as I walk through this valley of insomnia and nightmares, I will fear no evil. Thank you that You are with me. I take comfort from You now.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over” (verse five).
My enemies cannot prevail over me, Lord, even in my sleep. I rest in You now, trusting You completely.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (verse six).
Embrace me with Your presence, Lord.
As I read each stanza and dialogued with the Lord, eyes closed, He ushered me into the sweet sleep He promises in Proverbs 3:21-26:
My son, let them (wisdom, understanding, and knowledge) not depart from your eyes – keep sound wisdom and discretion;
So they will be life to your soul and grace to your neck.
Then you will walk safely in your way, and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
For the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.
(parentheses and emphasis mine)
No nightmares. No fitfulness. Just peace.
Melatonin has nothing on the word of God!
Thank You, Lord, for sleep! For restoring my soul. Lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake, and help us to always keep wisdom, understanding, and knowledge before our eyes as we become more wholly Yours today.