Have you ever seen this prayer?
That’s me. I start out so well, with such great intentions for the day. I usually wake up on the right side of the bed. I’m spiritually, physically, and mentally awake (at least after the coffee is made). I’m ready to pray, to spend time with God, to make grand plans for the hours I’ve been given. But around 4 or 5 p.m., (sometimes earlier, depending on the day’s hormone balance) something happens to me. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde.
Do you ever overeat late at night? Or pick stupid fights with your spouse after 10 p.m.? Do you have trouble saying “no” to things you’re trying to quit, or “yes” to the things you really want to accomplish in the late afternoon or evening hours? Does it get worse as the day erodes into darkness?
We are a driven people. Amercians have devalued sleep, rest, and vacations to the point we are literally running on fumes. We applaud every effort to push ourselves to the limits of our physicality, our psyche, our spirits, and our emotions. At every turn in the day we are bombarded with temptation, with opportunity, with distractions — good and bad.
Did you know that a lack of sleep/rest triggers your body to secrete hormones that cause the “munchies”? Or that when you’re tired, your body tells your brain you need to eat in a desperate attempt to find fuel to stay awake?
A person who is physically tired is more susceptible to accidents (almost as bad or worse than a person who has been drinking), more likely to catch colds and flu because the immune system is compromised, and may suffer a myriad of physical symptoms ranging from chest pain to fever to digestive disorders. Emotional and mental fatigue can cause depression, memory loss (we’re not old, we’re just tired!), anger issues, and lapses in judgment. (http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/fatigue.html#_1_3)
These are all well-documented results of exhaustion as it affects us physically and mentally. But what about spiritually? The prevailing thought among believers is that when an individual struggles with temptation and deception, it’s strictly a spiritual problem, to be addressed with prayer and scripture and confession and repentance. Those things are good and necessary, but if we stop there we’ve only addressed one-third of the whole being.
It’s just a thought, but what if part of the cure for our recurrent “personal” problems was as simple as going to bed on time, or taking an afternoon nap? What if the application of Jesus’ words, “if your right hand offends you, cut it off,” involved tucking yourself up in bed before you fall in the pit of gossip during those free nighttime minutes on your cell phone, clicking on the link that takes you to the porn site, or overindulging your flesh with extra dessert, midnight snacks, another drink, or two more hours lying on the sofa watching brain- and bank account-sucking infomercials? Maybe cutting off your right hand, or plucking out your eye is as simple as switching off the light…
What makes us think that a lack of sleep and pushing ourselves to the brink of exhaustion is a good thing?