Rest: An Invitation to Join the Sleeping Christ
If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Would it be flying? Being invisible? Teleportation? Winning your fantasy football league? While all those options sound nice, my answer has always been: not having to sleep but still being fully rested. I mean think about how much more productive you could be with 1/3 of your life back! Often, I feel myself rushing to find time to accomplish everything I want to do in a day. In fact, while writing this article, a lady walking her dogs asked me, “Are you studying too hard? I can hear you typing from down the street!” Considering moments before I was anxious about what to write, I could not help but laugh about how funny God is and answer “Always!”
However, this made me pause. During this time, I came to the realization that so often, we are concerned with what we are doing that we forget to take that moment to just pause. I also asked myself a series of questions that I am now inviting you to ask yourself as well.
Am I planning on committing adultery?
Dishonoring my parents?
My answers (and hopefully yours too) were all “NO”, which brought me to my next question. Do I rest one day a week, every week? While this may be a surprise why I would ask such a thing, all these questions stem from the same list. A top 10 list straight from Exo. 20:2–17 and Deu. 5:7–21 (the Ten Commandments). “But why is rest included on there?” I asked myself. Well, to answer this we must go back to the beginning and look at why God created the 10 commandments.
Without Parameters, There Is No Pleasure
In the beginning of the Bible, God placed man in the Garden of Eden. This word “Eden” in Greek (עֵדֶן) means “pleasure”; therefore, we see that from the very beginning of time God has always wanted man to experience pleasure. Because of this revelation, we now are witness to the fact that the commandments and law were created to help us live happily and avoid heartache. We can even apply this to our own human experience as well. For example, it is human nature for parents to want the best for their kids. But, that does not mean that the parents will let their kid run around and do whatever that kid may want to do. No, in fact, it is out of their love that the parents place rules in their household in order to protect their child. This is exactly why the Lord told Adam that he could eat of EVERY tree EXCEPT the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:16–17). It was not to hold power over Adam’s head, but it was out of God’s love for Adam that He prohibited that tree as He wanted Adam to live a happy life. Again, why do parents set curfews for little kids? Is it because they hate their kid like Lady Tremaine hated Cinderella? No, that is nonsense! It is because they love their kid and want them to be happy, and that kid has no way of knowing that adults in this world look for innocent children to fall prey to their trap. If the little kid’s parents did not have a curfew for their little Johnny, their love for him could be questioned, and it is in the same way that God show’s His love for us.
How does this relate to rest, you may ask? Because it is the exact same reason, He told us to rest one day a week. For our pleasure. Rest allows our mind, emotions, energy, will, spirit, conscious, and heart to all be refreshed. It is only when we are refreshed that we realize the 10 commandments also reveal to us who God is and why we need Him as we all fall short (Rom 3:19–31). You see, God could have easily made it to where we did not need to rest or (back to my superpower example) sleep, but He chose to require rest from us on purpose. It is through this rest that He supplies us with the rich, fullness of Himself! What a pleasure it is to lay down in the Lord’s pasture (c.f. Psa. 23:2, John 10:11–5, & 1 Pet. 2:25)!
The Sleeping Christ
This matter of rest has dated all the way back to the creation of the world. In Genesis 1 & 2, we see that God worked for 6 days, saw that it was very good, and rested on the 7th. In this same manner, we are called to reflect the Lord (2 Cor 3:18) and must also rest. However, there is a subtle difference in this resting we are called now as opposed to in the Old Testament. This difference is seen in Col. 2:16–17 where Paul says that the Sabbath and other rituals are but mere shadows of the full reality that is Christ! To phrase this another way, the Sabbath and other rituals are just like the shadows of the man’s body — a shadow of the real substance in the gospel (Christ). It is from these verses, that we can see that the Sabbath is fulfilled by the Lord Jesus! How glorious it is that we are no longer bound by rituals! All that is required of us is to rest and walk in Christ in our spirit! By doing this we satisfy all the old rituals and the righteous requirement of the law, and actually fulfill even more than they require (Rom 8:4)! How wonderful this reality is!
When we come to this reality, we can begin to understand why a loving God does not relieve us from the storm. Let us go back for a moment to Matthew 8:24–26 to talk of the violent storm that struck the boat Jesus and the disciples were aboard. It reads,
24 And suddenly a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves; but Jesus was sleeping. 25 And the disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us, we are going to die!” 26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was [at once] a great and wonderful calm [a perfect peacefulness].
While this story has been told many times, one thing that a brother shared to me that I always overlooked, is that during the storm, Christ is sleeping. He is unaffected by the tempest. He is the sleeping Christ. The sleeping Christ does not remove us from the storm, nor does He want you to cry out and wake Him. Instead, He is inviting you to join Him in peace and sleep, truly resting in Him during the storm. It is once we accept this invitation to join the sleeping Christ that we may begin to truly understand what Christianity is.
The Principles to Sleep
What a revelation this is; however, it means nothing if we do not understand how to accept this invitation. In order to truly know the sleeping, indwelling Christ, we first must understand the principles to sleep. Merriam webster defines sleep as:
“the natural, easily reversible periodic state of many living things that is marked by the absence of wakefulness and by the loss of consciousness of one’s surroundings, is accompanied by a typical body posture (such as lying down with the eyes closed), the occurrence of dreaming, and changes in brain activity and physiological functioning, is made up of cycles of non-REM sleep and REM sleep, and is usually considered essential to the restoration and recovery of vital bodily and mental functions”
This definition may seem like a lot, and well… that is because it is. Sleeping is so simple, yet so complex all at the same time. All these principles inside this definition are natural for us in a physical sense, and it is my hope that after showing you these six principles to sleep, that it may be natural for us in a spiritual sense as well.
The first principle is that sleeping is easily reversible, meaning we make a decision to stay asleep. In this same way, it is so easy for us to become unsettled and spiritually wake up, but we must make the decision to rest in Christ. We must set our mind on the Tree of Life (the Spirit), not on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Death). When we do this, we will receive Life and Peace, and will continue to sleep (Rom 8:6)!
The second principle is that physical sleep is marked by the loss of consciousness of one’s daily surroundings and stressors. We can apply this to our spiritual sleep as we must be rid of anxieties and worries to spiritually sleep. We must no longer allow what is going on in our lives to penetrate our heart and give berth to anxiety there. We must rest in the sleeping Christ! Now let me be clear when I say that this does not mean that we can ignore what we are doing in our daily lives. Jesus in Luke 10:41 says, “Martha Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things.” Read this again. Nowhere does He say that Martha is doing too many things. He simply says that she has allowed these worries to give way to anxiety in her heart. In order to avoid this, we must no longer spend all our time looking at our surroundings, but we must turn our eyes to the Most Holy one above and sleep. It is the most logical thing we could do.
Our third principle to sleep is that sleep is accompanied by laying down and closing your eyes, focusing on nothing else but sleep. Spiritually, we must follow our inner anointing and lay down in the green pasture beside still waters. One thing that often is overlooked concerning the “green pasture” is that grass is not green when it is first planted, it is dirt. However, through the downpour of the rain, the dirt slowly transforms into beautiful, green grass. This is why God allows us to go through trials. Remember, it is always for our pleasure in the bigger picture. I plan to go more in-depth on this topic at a later time, but for now let us also touch on the still waters. Steppes of Faith in an article “Understanding Psalm 23: What God Meant by Green Pastures and Still Waters”, explains the still waters beautifully:
“A shepherd would never lead his sheep to a rapidly flowing river. It would be too dangerous and loud causing the sheep to be frightened. God doesn’t want this for us. He longs to give us peace, rest, and repose, so He takes us to where the water is pure, clear, and almost motionless so we can refresh ourselves in Him. It’s a place where we can slow down, be quiet and still with Him, and experience His deep, pure love intimately.”
Our fourth principle is that sleep is also accompanied by the changing in our function and brain activity. This is true spiritually as through the reading of the Word and the eating of the living bread (John 6:51) we are crucified and reconstituted with Christ (Gal 2:20). Our outward situation has not changed, but inwardly we do. It is impossible not to change after reading the word, as in fact constitution is an organic way of becoming the Truth (John 14:6)! When we eat of the Word and constitute ourselves with Christ as the living bread, our own self with be nourished, taken care of, and given rest (1 Tim 4:6).
Our fifth principle is that sleep is cyclical in nature. At the end of every day, you sleep. It is a daily need. In the same way, we have a daily need for the Lord. It is when we find the words and eat them daily (Jer. 15:16), that we begin to change our function and activity, like principle four states, as the Lord becomes a joy and a delight to our heart leaping over any worries we may have. On top of this, sleep’s cyclical nature reminds us that there will be multiple “storms” or “lows” in our lives, and to expect these times (Ecc. 3:1–8). By recognizing that storms are apart of God’s eternal building, we may begin to see God’s beauty and faithfulness even if we do not understand His ways (Ecc. 3:11).
The sixth and final principle is that sleep is used to recover and restore our body and our mind. It is through sleeping in the sleeping Christ that our minds are not conformed to this world, but are transformed and able to discern the will of God (Rom 12:2). When we are sleeping, our minds are renewed which allows Christ to assume His rightful role as the divine umpire ruling our hearts and giving us peace with finality (Col 3:15)!
The Spirit Transcends
I want to pause here and ask you a question, much like the lady walking her dogs said to me. In fact, even though I cannot hear you typing, I want to ask you the exact same question. Are you studying too hard? What I mean by this is, are you using your mind to read this? If you answered like me and said “Always!”, you are probably wondering how any of this makes sense, and rightfully so! This matter of rest is not something that can make sense to our natural human mind. It is literally impossible with just our human mind to comprehend how God can take away all our pain and fill it with Himself. However, when we contact our spirit (that is our human spirit mingled with the Holy Spirit) we do not have to comprehend anything. It is just our experience. Every day this week I invite you to experience the sleeping Christ as when we accept our own personal invitation, “our hearts and minds will be guarded by the peace of God which transcends all understanding” (Phil 4:7).
Sleep well, my beloved.
References and Further Enjoyment:
- The Holy Bible Recovery Version w/ footnotes
- J.L. E., In Rest Shall Be Your Strength — Christian Students on Campus
- Robert Morris & Chad Veach, A Discussion on the 10 Commandments: https://youtu.be/q0aRVBNOQuw
- Watchman Nee, What Shall This Man Do
- Mike Todd, Relationship Goals Pt. 1: https://youtu.be/H7h5BHax06c
- Blue Letter Bible
- Hymn, Matthew 11:28–30 (Come to Me): https://soundcloud.com/joe-thamrin/matthew-1128-30-come-to-mewith-trifena-thamrin?si=3dabc1db3da6466281d5b5ddb9819baf&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing