I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. (Psalm 3.5 TNIV)
Will Shriner, an American comedian from the 1950′s once said, “I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.”
For many years now I have always thought that when my time comes, dying in my sleep would have to be one of the most peaceful ways to go. The prospect of being blown apart, shot, stabbed or eaten by some prehistoric monster has never really held any fascination for me.
But then as a teenager I saw ‘Nightmare on Elm St’ and that ruined everything.
I remember screaming “WAKE UP!” to the unsuspecting teenagers oblivious to the danger that awaited them when they dosed off. You see the minute you fell asleep you entered the nightmarish domain of Freddy Kruger. What followed was a graphic demonstration of just how many ways a human being can be diced and sliced by Freddy’s razor sharp blades.
It was then that the realisation dawned on me, when I’m asleep… I am vulnerable!
I was reading just the other day that we sleep for one-third of our lives. So for one-third of my life I am not in control.
Think about it, while we sleep, we are unconscious, dead to the world yet we continue to breathe, our heart pumps, our organs operate. All on their own! Anything could go wrong and we can’t do a thing about it!
A few months ago, I was reminded just how vulnerable we really are. I woke up suddenly out of a heavy sleep, choking! I found myself gasping for breath. It was a frightening experience. After what seemed like forever, I was able to take deep breathes again and my heart rate returned to normal. I was however very reluctant put my head back on the pillow, close my eyes and go back to sleep.
I think David knew exactly what this felt like. With so many people out to kill him, I am sure he understood better than most the feeling of vulnerability while he slept. For him to sleep and to wake each morning was nothing short of a minor miracle yet he says that this was possible because God sustained him. In fact his view was the same God who sustained him during the day will also sustain him in the middle of his darkest night.
He trusted God. He rated God’s ability to sustain him higher than man’s ability to destroy him. And this gave him peace.
These days, if you are having trouble sleeping, I would choose Psalm 3 over Nightmare on Elm St any day. I just wish that I’d had this same conviction when I was a teenager.