The Mid-Atlantic Bible School (also lovingly known as “(Ship)pensburg” because of the university it’s held at) ended this afternoon. I wasn’t there, and hadn’t been in a number of years (but I had certainly done my time) except for a short visit in 2019, the last time the School was held. I was thinking about it all this week; there are enough stories from there to last a lifetime. Just a couple days ago, I posted on my facebook page, “July 7 will always hold a special place in my heart,” because of one particular July 7 at Shippensburg a long time ago, a day full of surprises, a day I remember like it was yesterday.
A few of the years I was at Ship, my friends and I would plan on pulling an all-nighter on the final night of Bible School; we would bring energy drinks (such as Monster or Red Bull) and get some extra rest during the day on Saturday. Staying up all night was really difficult and most who intended to, just didn’t make it; they fell asleep. It didn’t help at all that we were already sleep-deprived from getting to bed late every night during the week. When we would go to breakfast on that last morning of Bible School before everyone left, we were dead tired; I remember on the ride home with my parents, my eyes would be involuntarily shutting themselves, almost as if begging for some rest. I felt sick, weak, just all-around unnatural.
Fortunately, the all-nighter only happened two or three times before we wised up and decided it just wasn’t worth it.
Don’t get me wrong; we had fun on those few nights: my buddies and I would talk (mostly about girls, of course), play card games such as Cheat (known outside Christian circles by a different name that I won’t repeat here) and whatever else to enjoy our last night together. And when I consider the fact that so many of those people are no longer in the faith, I would do almost anything to have one more night at Bible School with them.
On the last night of Bibleschool, some people had to sleep, as they had a long drive home the next day. Others, unfortunately, maybe couldn’t sleep: Bible School was their getaway from reality for a week, and now it was over, and they would have to return to the problems they faced back home. Yet there I was, my friends and I, staying awake all night and thus depriving ourselves of something we needed—sleep—mostly to impress others. I doubt anyone was actually thrilled with that.
Sleep is good, and it’s a gift from the LORD; in his wisdom, he determined that we should spend 1/3 of our lifetime asleep, recovering from our day, in order to be ready to go for the next one; even if we don’t have a big day planned, our bodies still need that time to rest. But too much sleep is not good, either: “love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread (Proverbs 20:13 ESV).” Laziness puts you at more risk of falling on hard financial times (Proverbs 6:10-11).
I read something online recently that said “Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.” Solomon—the second-wisest man ever—wrote “the sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep (Ecclesiastes 5:12 NIV);” even the rich have worries that keep them awake at night. Nowadays especially, with so much more to worry about, and with all the uncertainty in the world, it’s no surprise that sleep deprivation is such a common problem.
On the contrary, the LORD never sleeps; imagine if he did, as if the world isn’t chaotic enough already. The Psalmist wrote, “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121:3-4 ESV).” David, as he fled from Absalom, had assurance of divine protection: “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around (Psalm 3:5-6 ESV).” He also wrote, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8 NIV).” Jesus, the Son of Man who had nowhere to lay his head (Matthew 8:20), was able to sleep in peace on a boat during a storm, despite the wind and waves pounding (Matthew 8:24). The LORD promises perfect peace to those whose mind is stayed on him (Isaiah 26:3).
“Go to sleep: God is awake.”
Grace and peace,
(Just as an aside—and I didn’t plan this at all in accordance with my blog entry—but I received my first-ever MyPillow via FedEx this afternoon. I’m excited.)