The Presence of God While Sleeping
“And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he alighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed…And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father and the God of Isaac: The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed…and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I knew it not.” Genesis 28:10-16
Last week I had lunch with a close friend and we were discussing their difficulty to sleep throughout the night. For many weeks, they would wake up inexplicably at 3:00 am. As we talked, I too remembered a point in time when I had similar experiences. It occurred during odd hours of the night, often not being able to go to sleep afterwards; when I was tired beyond anything and all I needed was sleep; and it would happen for days on end. It has happened to me, it has happened to you and it happened to Jacob. Sometimes the only way God can talk to us is when we least want to talk. Insomnia. When it happens, we often try to find things to distract us until we can go back to sleep. Rarely do we seek Him during those times or even recognize that our sleeplessness may not be a coincidence.
When I was younger (in my walk), I would sometimes wake up early in the morning with all-consuming thoughts of fear, “How am I going to pay this bill?”, “How am I going to do this?”, “What if I flunk this test?”, “What if I lose my job?”, “Will I ever get a house?”, or “Will I get this job?” But as I matured, God woke me up early to talk to Him. Sadly, the pace of my life was once so hectic that I often missed a lot from my Father. I missed Him telling me what to do; I missed Him telling me how I should respond when confronted with adversity; I missed Him telling me how much He truly loved me… I missed all of that. Yet as my walk matured, I realized that God was in the habit of waking me up early so that I DIDN’T miss that.
God gave Jacob a vision of his future greatness because Jacob was simply doing too much to receive it awake. While awake, Jacob was focused on fulfilling his father’s wish for his life, he was focused on daily survival and going from one destination to the next (v. 10-11). But sleep…while asleep in exhaustion…God showed Jacob the plans He had for his life. In the early morning hours, Jacob was finally able to receive God’s blessing (v. 13-15); however even then, Jacobs was in the presence of God and did not realize it (v. 16). He was asleep. What about you? Is your life causing you to be so hard of hearing that God is speaking to you while you are asleep? Is He waking you in the early morning hours to talk? If so, how do you respond? Do you recognize that God is in that place in time with you?
Since leaving my job, I have had a few people ask how my morning devotional time is going (I committed to waking up at 4 am daily to spend with Him). Ironically, it’s going better than I thought (honestly, WHY get up so early if you have no where to be?). So far, I have gotten up early half the time, but the other times I still manage to give God the first fruit of my time each morning. All of those previous years/mornings of waking up, tossing and turning – fighting fear – have turned into peaceful mornings. God knows how important sleep is to our bodies (He is Creator), but more importantly He knows how important hearing His voice is to our lives.
I rarely wake up in the wee hours of the morning anymore because I am more focused on hearing God throughout my day. I am not saying I will never have a sleepless night, nor am I saying God will not one day wake me in the early morning hours to talk again. But what I am saying is that I now appreciate those moments as an opportunity for me to talk to Him, to pray, and to genuinely reflect on my life. God doesn’t want us to miss out on time with Him and hearing from Him. The Creator of the Universe so delights in you, that He awakens you to spend time talking and listening to you. You are that awesome. So, if you sleep in peace every night or if you are currently being nudged at 3 am, seek His face cherish that time. Just as for Jacob, God may be in that place and time to speak blessings beyond your wildest imagination.