There are creatures of the night—silent, stealthy—stirring about while we sleep.
They mean us no harm. In fact, they do us much good. The raccoon, the opossum, the beautiful fox, the feral cat, patrol the urban landscape after hours to clean up things we don’t want to know about, let alone touch. When the sun comes out, they go in to take their turn at sleep.

Fields sleep, too.
They dutifully grow the grass, taller each day, thicker with each fall of rain. When the season is full, then comes the mower, the hay bailer, to organize what was random, to strengthen what once was wearied by bending to the wind. Then, resting from its work, the field sleeps sustained by the hand of God and the diligence of man.

The poet speaks of the broad, sustained rhythms of life: daylight and dark, the changing seasons.

“I lie down and go to sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.”

The Creator of both day and night, the Designer of the earth, brilliantly tilting us on an axis so that we could have seasons of contrasts to enjoy, made us for time and He made time for us.

We are sustained when we loosen our grip on time.
The conscious mind must rest so we close our eyes to sleep. It seems the world stops when we sleep, but it doesn’t. It seems but a moment when we awaken several hours later, rested, sustained.

While we slept time worked its magic and the creatures of the night were on patrol.

  • When we rest in the grace of God, the inner mind processes the day, speaking mysteries the soul needs to hear and songs the spirit needs to sing. Like tall grasses in a well-tended field, we danced through the day, breathing the air, drawing strength from the fertile earth, and sipping the sun and rain. With the night comes the sustaining rest when our sleeping selves consolidate and organize the growth of the day.
  • The darkened alleyways of our inner lives are patrolled, not by creatures of the night, but by the gentle Dove of the Spirit, to organize what was random, to strengthen what was wearied by bending to the wind. Angels watch over our bed and the Lord Himself guards our heart. No evil force can enter there. The Spirit of God dwells within and He is at work in us.

“I lie down and go to sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.”

Psalm 3
Lord, how many adversaries I have! how many there are who rise up against me! How many there are who say of me, “There is no help for him in his God.” But you, O Lord, are a shield about me; you are my glory, the one who lifts up my head. I call aloud upon the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill; I lie down and go to sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I do not fear the multitudes of people who set themselves against me all around. Rise up, O Lord; set me free, O my God; surely, you will strike all my enemies across the face, you will break the teeth of the wicked. Deliverance belongs to the Lord. Your blessing be upon your people!
Proverbs 6:20-23 NIV
My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life…
Psalm 4:5-8 NIV
Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord. Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 104:19-23 NIV
The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening.
Psalm 121 NIV
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.
Psalm 91:9-11 NIV
If you make the Most High your dwelling — even the Lord, who is my refuge—then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

Lord Jesus, You never tire or grow weary. The Bible says You never slumber or sleep, that Your eyes are always open keeping watch and Your ears are always listening to the faintest cry of the troubled heart. When I sleep Your angels keep watch and Your Spirit examines my inmost being. Often You speak to us in our dreams, making wild and silly dramas of our waking fears so that we can awaken and realize You have it all in Your hands. When we awake, refreshed by a very real dream or even alarmed by a nightmare, we soon know that You are with us in the darkest nights and speak to us in the deepest places we know. Thank You for sustaining us day and night. Amen.

Abide with Me
Text: Henry F. Lyte; Music: William H. Monk

1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

5. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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