Tag Archives: bedtime

A Lesson from Bedsheets

Raising three boys was a joy. A joy not without its challenges but still a joy. One of those challenges was finding a reliable, good trustworthy babysitter for those all too few occasions when my wife and I wanted to relish time alone. We were blessed with and by Pam. She was that rare combination of fun and firmness. Fun enough that the boys loved her (they still do) yet firm enough to keep them in check and enforce the rules.

In that vein, when Pam put the boys in bed she was sure to play a game of tucking the top sheets firmly under the sides of the mattress to help hold the boys in place. They enjoyed the game and challenge but also heard the message: “The sheets are tucked tightly around you so you don’t try to get up and become disobedient. If you become disobedient the fun stops. The bedsheets are hemming you in for your own good.”

The memory of that tactic reminds me that God is much like a babysitter. Recall the words of the Psalmist. “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” The New Living Translation puts it: “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” And the Good News Translation words it: “You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power.” God hems us in! God keeps in our place! God hems us in and keeps us in our place for our own good. He tightens the sheets around us to remind us to stay put with Him so He can protect us and bless us.

The next time…

  • you’re not happy with life
  • not happy where you are or not happy you can’t go where you want to go,
  • not happy that you cannot do what you want to do,
  • you feel like God’s not being fair because He’s not answering your prayers and giving you what you want
  • you just wish God would just leave you alone

…spend some time wondering.

“What is God protecting me from?” “How is it God wants to bless me?” You may not come up with firm answers, but you will be reminded that God has your best interests at heart.

That’s the affirmation of the Psalmist: “Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding.” (Psalm 139:6 Good News Translation) Then he recognizes how valuable God’s hemming us in really is.

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.(Psalm 139:7-12 The Message)

Oh the beauty of God’s presence! We are never alone, always protected, always blessed by His loving hands. I realize our boys never thought of the Psalmist as they were being hemmed in. I didn’t think of Him for a long time either. But now that I have, each bedtime can take on new meaning. Each night, as I nestle under my bedsheet, I can envision God tucking in my sheets, reminding me He will protect and bless me through the night. It gives new meaning to my version of the old child’s prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep while grateful, Lord, my soul you keep. Guide and guard me through the night and wake me when your time is right.”

Thanks, Pam, for the lessons and inspiration.










More Than a Pop Phrase

It’s amazing how certain phrases or expressions catch on and take a culture by storm. Consider, “At the end of the day…” If you haven’t heard it yet today, you will. And if you don’t, more than likely you’ll hear it several times tomorrow to make up for today’s lack! I hear “At the end of the day…” in discussions and debates between sportscasters and show hosts, during interviews with dignitaries, actors/actresses and politicians, and in casual conversations. I’ve heard it so much that, at the end of the day, I became convinced it must be the newest pop phrase. I feel like if, at the end of the day, I haven’t heard it I must not be listening and if I haven’t used it I must not be a Pop person! Which could be true – I mean, at the end of the day I’m not even totally clear as to what the phrase means!

I’ve deduced that “At the end of the day…” means something like “When it’s all said and done…”, “When we’ve examined this from all the various angles…”, “When we add it all up…” – all of which mean “What’ really matters is…” And that got me to thinking. Perhaps at the end of the day is more than a pop phrase. There is someone who knew all about the end of the day, and from Him we can learn what really matters. His name is Jesus. When He came to the end of His earthly days He was hanging on a cross, condemned to die as a criminal but chosen to die for the sin of the world. His final words, at the end of the day, were “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” What’s significant is that these words are from Psalm 31 – they were not new; they formed a familiar prayer for the Israelites. Beginning at an early age these words were uttered by the children at bedtime as they placed themselves in unshakeable trust in the hands of the Father. They are really very similar to the spirit of our “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If Jesus comes before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take” (or some variance thereof).

So Jesus was uttering His familiar day-end prayer. At the end of the day Jesus died as He lived – with total trust in the Father. In other words, the moment of death saw no change in Jesus. These words are significant precisely because they are not new – they are but the expression of His whole life. The truth is if, at the end of the day we can lie down to sleep with peace, we can lie down at the final day’s end to die in peace. As Paul put it, “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s!” (Romans14:8 Revised Standard Version)

So, at the end of the day the message is that how we live is the key to how we will die. I invite you to live in trust so you can, at the end of the day, die in trust. Believe that no matter what, your Father will bring you safely home. It is this belief which leads me, as I climb into bed at the end of each day, to pray what I think is a more adult version of my early life’s prayer. “Good, good Father — now I lay me down to sleep, Thankful that my soul you keep. Now guide and guard me through the night, and wake me when and where it’s right.” At the end of the day that’s all that really matters.