Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Psalm 127:2--We Need Sleep!

"It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep." (ESV)

Let's keep trucking through this great psalm and see what this second verse can teach us about family life....

Life can get so overwhelming in our culture. As a young husband, father, and pastor, I have "risen early," gone "late to rest," and "ate the the bread of anxious toil." Why do I do those things? Why do we do those things?

It's not wrong in-and-of-itself to wake up super early or stay up super late or to work extra hard. It's the attitude of our hearts as we do those things that can become sinful. The word "anxious" sticks out to me in this verse. If our toil, extra efforts, and sleeplessness are driven by anxiety and by a desire to control outcomes or situations, then we have slipped into sinful and "vain" behaviors.

Our bodies need rest. But in our culture, we just ignore that need and pretend like we never tire. We convince ourselves that if we just woke up one hour earlier or stay up one hour later or put in a few more hours at work, we will finally get everything done that we should. We'll finally have made "enough" money. We'll finally have that to-do list completed. We'll be able to get that birthday present for our spouse or child. We'll be able to take that family vacation we've been dreaming of. We'll get that much-needed promotion. But what do we lose in the mean time?

We are distracted--or even absent--from our family.

We need to remind ourselves that sleep and rest are gifts from God. C.J. Mahaney recommends in his book Humility: "Before going to sleep (each night), receive this gift of sleep from God and acknowledge His purpose for sleep." You see, by making us as creatures who need sleep, God has given us a daily reminder that we are limited beings. Only He never sleeps and never tires. Only He is ultimately capable of providing for our families. When we work so hard and strain our bodies almost to exhaustion, we might think that we are honoring God by our efforts. But if we are doing it with an anxious heart that is convinced it is up to us (limited as we are), then we are actually doing the opposite. We are denying His provision and His oversight into our lives.

Anxiety can eat you alive. I speak from experience. When you are driven by a desire to control and fix situations and by the goal of crossing off an endless to-do list, you'll never be satisfied. You'll "eat the bread of anxious toil" indefinitely. So be reminded as a mother, father, husband, wife, and employee today that, as Mahaney has also said, "Only God gets His to-do list done each day." I'll leave you with a further thought of his...

"No matter how much planning, scheduling, and discipline is present in my life, I will never completely redeem the time. I am a finite creature, limited in what I can accomplish, and further limited by my sin. So it should surprise nobody that I leave to-dos undone each and every day. My joy is not derived from the flawless execution of my goals. My joy each day is derived from the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Only God gets his to-do list done each day. I need the cross of Christ each day." -taken from his blog entry The To-Do Lists are Never Done


Steve said...

You might find the following blogs of interest about C.J. Mahaney and the group he leads, Sovereign Grace Ministries:

They tell another side. Hope this helps.

Grandma Goodwin said...


This blog titled "We Need Sleep" was an eye opener to me.

I have believed it for a long time, but being human, I sometimes work on a daily basis until I am completely exhausted!

Maybe reading this blog, will make me stop and go to bed earlier,and get some very needed sleep!

At age 71, I need more rest.

Thanks for Psalm 127:2
Grandma Goodwin

Marc Goodwin said...

Thanks Grandma for your encouragement...I've tried to get more sleep in recent days too.

Steve--how did you find my blog? I have the highest respect for the SGM guys (though in looking at those sites you linked, it seems that you are pretty sceptical of them). I don't have time to read through all the posts and information you have on there, but I stick behind those men and have learned so much from them. Their theology, teaching, and leadership are all really good in my eyes as an outsider. In briefly looking at the site, it seems that a lot of the complaints and criticisms are matters of opinion and not biblically based--but that's just me.

Steve said...


Your blog came up on an internet search.

You may be OK with Mahaney and SGM as long as you listen to what he says vs. being part of their group. Most of the comments are about heavy handedness and abuse within the group. With that said, I certainly don't agree with all Mahaney says including his teaching talking about being "a joy to pastor."

The story shared here is quite disturbing including SGM's response to it:

Marc Goodwin said...

Steve...I read through the post that you referred me to (it was a long read). And if this story is true, I am really saddened by it and how the pastors handled the situation. Without knowing the writer or the pastors' side of things, I can't really come down firmly on the issue--other than to say IF that happened as this mother says, then that is completely unacceptable....
That said, I am sure that every denomination has awful stories like this one where pastor misuse authority or wade through heavy situations in sinful ways (I say that not at ALL to justify it). I'm not sure that you can just read her story--even as awful as it is--and totally discredit all of SGM.

Are you a pastor yourself?

And also, what were you searching for that led you to my blog?

Steve said...


Thanks for reading the links I posted. The stories are sad. There can be another side as you say but I don't think there is a question that something along the lines of what this person shared happened.

I am not a pastor myself.

I know of one case where an "apostle's" wife "treated" a woman for anorexia. The woman who supposedly had this problem with "anorexia" was within a normal weight range for her height and frame. This "apostle's" wife subjected this woman to a multi year "treatment" for this problem despite this wife having no medical training especially in anorexia. What would make one think they are qualified to do this type of "treatment" is baffling.

Just so you know what SGM calls an "apostle" is one of their higher ranking leaders. This wasn't a regular pastor but someone high ranking.

I am sure there are two sides to this but I have seen emails from the "apostle" that acknowledges that this did happen. Thus though there may be extenuating circumstances what is reported did happen.