Monday, July 4, 2016
In His Keeping
Long before I knew I could die every night, I learned from my Mother that prayer many adults like me claim as their first prayer. "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." And then there was list of "God bless..." followed by a concluding "Amen." Some modern day parents are appalled at a prayer that brings death into a child's bedroom. My Mother never intended to frighten me. Neither she nor the prayer kept me awake at night trembling under my blanket. What it did was teach me early that I was safe in the Lord's keeping.
When I got to that last verse of the 4th Psalm, my mind went immediately to that memory of the first prayer. In that verse the Word says, "I will both lie down and sleep in peace for You, O Lord, make me lie down in safety." When we lie down and sleep our awareness of consciousness disappears. In those hours of sleep it is as if we do not exist. When a gas pain in the chest causes us to think of a heart attack, we suddenly are caused to entertain the possibility that waking up is not guaranteed. Sleep may be a gentle thing as the poet suggests, but for some it can be a frightful thing to enter.
The Psalmist knew he could sleep with peace in this land of no conscious control because God was in control. Knowing God is with us, watching over us, keeping us while we sleep gives us confidence in that moment of turning lose of life. Whether we are awake or asleep, whether we wake up or do not wake up, there is nothing to fear. God is our Keeper in the hours of the day as well as in the dark hours of the night. In His keeping we do indeed dwell safely.