My house, for the last few months, has been like Guantanamo Bay for narcoleptics. My son, who will be eleven months old this month, has made waking up at night a hobby; and one that he seems to have a real natural talent for. This week has become something of a test for my wife and I, similar to what I imagine the first week of boot camp would be like if the Drill Sargent had a three-word vocabulary and cried instead of yelled. We’ve been up several times each night trying to get him to go back to sleep. Even that isn’t completely true. At some point I’m not all that concerned with how much sleep he actually gets, I just want him to close his yapper so I can string together more than an hour and a half of rest at a time.
This is not just a rant about the struggles of parenting, So I’ll move on.
Generally when I’m rocking the boy back to sleep I will read the Bible. For one thing, I wouldn’t be doing much else that could be considered productive if I weren’t engaging the Scriptures. Second, there is a whole new perspective to be gained from the Bible when you are reading it through the night. Things that wouldn’t have been very nuanced at 2:00 in the afternoon become extremely meaningful at 2:00 in the morning.
Last night during one of the trips to Asher’s room I read this:
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
Psalm 3:5 ESV
Now, this is a nice verse in the daytime. The entire chapter is about the protection of the Lord in times of danger and peril and trouble. David wrote about his confidence in God’s strength and the kind of rest that this assurance afforded him. He was able to close his eyes in the middle, essentially, of a battlefield and sleep because he knew God was watching over him. This is indeed a beautiful passage, one that should be consulted in times of trouble, but in the middle of the night it begins to take on some new meaning.
David seems to be implying here that he laid down, slept, and got up. This has not been my pattern as of late. My wife and I worked our way through this verse four times last night, David only got to experience God’s goodness a single time. It occurred to me that, though I was frustrated and tired, God had brought sleep and wake to me repeatedly, and I was able to experience His goodness multiple times throughout the course of one night. Does this sound psychotic? Maybe. I am sleep deprived. But on the other hand, maybe not so much.
The Bible is unique in its ability to meet us where we stand (or lay, or sit). Psalm 3 has its own unique context and its own story; nothing can ever change what David was writing about specifically in that moment. But, despite the singularity of the context there is an element of the text that causes it to grow legs and walk through the ages, through the stories of many more than just David, and resist the literary temptation to become sealed in a historical holding cell. The element that creates this kind of power is God. David talks about the character of God and in so doing he talks about something that is eternal. And that eternity, certainly, covered last night in Greenville, SC in the bedroom of a squalling toddler. God’s blessed ability to sustain His children is no different today than it was 3,500 years ago. Though there aren’t men with spears and swords spitting hatred and chasing me down through the wilderness, the words of the poet still resonate in my heart.
When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.”
I encourage you to read the Scriptures in their context. Learn about the historical setting that they were written in and to. In pursuing this knowledge the truth of the text will be much more vibrant and clear. But I also encourage you to let the Bible speak into your moment. Let the power of the Word of God stand with you in times of failure, loss, success, worry, pain, joy, and excitement. God can even move the portal of His Word and sit with you if you find yourself rocking a crying 10 month old boy in the middle of the night. I went to sleep and woke up again and again and again, and always I laid down and got up with the confidence that the Lord Himself had everything under control and my life securely in His hands.
The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.– A. W. Tozer