When I was a little girl, bed time always seemed to come around too early. I never felt tired, when dressed in night gown, still warm from the bath, I would climb into bed, waiting for my mom to tuck me in.

“But I’m not tired,” I remember telling her, most nights.

“That’s ok. Just lay there and rest,” she always replied.

The day was over; I was young; my mom knew I had to be tired. If I got up and read a little or watched a few minutes of television, sleep would be delayed and I would be grouchy in the morning.

“But what if I don’t go to sleep?” I would ask.

“I’ll come in and check on you later,” she assured me.

And so I would just lay there a little, letting the wiggles wind down and the giggle deflate. As the thoughts of my young mind started to wander and fade, the deep rest of sleep would settle in over me like a thick fog and wouldn’t break again til morning.

As an adult, I still can’t go straight to sleep when I hit the bed. So most nights, whether I like it or not, I find that I have to lay there.

That time between going to bed and going to sleep can feel like a curse when I am troubled or in trouble or causing trouble.

On those nights, I am restless and anxious, and rather than rest, I spend my time planning and worrying and trying to work things out.

On those nights I curl up into a ball on my left side, then my right side. Agitating the sheets like the heavy cycle on my washing machine.

On those nights, I stew and fret, sometimes arguing, sometimes bargaining, sometimes avoiding my Jesus.

On those nights, I might lay there for hours, not sleeping, worrying about not sleeping, or sometimes, not even laying there. I sit up or get up. Maybe there’s something on TV.

At some point, the tiredness overtakes the tension, and I sleep. But I don’t rest.

On other nights, though, those sweet minutes between laying down and sleeping are a blessing.

On those nights, no matter what has happened during the day, I know that there is nothing else I can do but lean on Jesus in faith. Tasks completed and tasks undone are all laid aside as He tucks me in.

On those nights, I let my head fall into the pillow, legs stretched long to the end of the bed and feel the tension release in the small of my back, my thoughts skipping lightly over the activities of the day. “I’m not tired yet,” I might tell him.

On those nights, by faith I let my mind release from the worries, breathe prayers of gratitude and love, blink awake a time or two, and then begin to submit.  “Just rest,” Jesus says.

On those nights, I feel the sweet trust of the night-gowned little girl as I begin to drift off. “But what if I don’t go to sleep?” I think, yawning.

On those nights, I slip away into a deep sleep, and He whispers “I will watch over you.”

And I rest.

PSALM 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

holy experience

Today, I am writing in community with Ann Voskamp and friends, exploring the Spiritual Practice of Rest. To see other’s thoughts, click on the button above.