How to Sleep Like a Baby

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This is part 10 in the Growing in Grace teaching series.

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There is a story about a man who so tired of his anxiety that he paid someone $1,000,000 a year to worry for him. A friend asked, “You are not a wealthy man. How are you going to pay him $1,000,000 a year?” The man’s response, “I don’t know. That’s his worry.”

Wouldn’t that be great! To have someone who would worry for us so that we could rest. So that we could experience true, deep, lasting peace of mind and peace of soul.

If I could have that kind of peace, I’d sleep like a baby. Wouldn’t you. After all, a baby can sleep anywhere and through just about anything. Why is that? They have no worries. Zero.

Wouldn’t it be great to sleep like a baby?!

Of course, babies don’t have bills to pay, or kids to raise. They don’t have to deal with final exams or peer pressure. They don’t live in fear of the opinions of other people. They don’t fear failure or loss. The don’t have to wait on test results or whether they got the job. Bottom line: they don’t have any responsibilities and don’t try to wrestle control of their lives away from their Daddy.

They are dependent, cared for, and for the time being, they are good with that, which is why they can sleep through anything.

Babies don’t worry.

I realize, and with tremendous empathy, that some of us suffer with a type of anxiety that should be classified as more of a medial, clinical issue than a spiritual issue. This is the kind of anxiety that is often improved with medication.

But all of us can relate to the kind of anxiety and worry that is rooted in fear, where we no longer live as dependent children of a good Father, but as spiritual orphans who carry the world on our own shoulders.

And yes, for some, the feelings of fear and dread that are related to anxiety can also be emotionally crippling. We know from experience that worry kills joy, erodes hope, and steals peace.

When anxious fears are triggered, we may feel as if there is no recourse. We are in the grip of anxiety and at its mercy.

However, what we learn in the word of God for us today is that peace is possible.

SO HOW CAN I HAVE THIS PEACE?  How can I sleep like a baby?

 

First, allow your emotions to awaken you to the war within.

Emotions function like the lights on your car’s dashboard. In the same way that lights on the dash reveal what is going on under the hood with the engine, our emotions reveal what’s going on in the heart.

  • Anger is often the emotional reaction to disappointment.
  • Joy is often the emotional reaction to contentment.
  • Despondency is the emotional reaction to hopelessness.
  • Anxiety is the result of fear, uncertainty, and the lack of an ability to control outcomes.

This is why Isaiah 26:3 is so important for us, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you…” (ESV)

These words would be an important reminder for the original recipients of Isaiah’s prophecy.

It is around 730 B.C., and a rival, neighboring nation, Assyria, will soon attack Israel and carry its citizens away into slavery. If things felt peaceful for the moment, chaos was about to descend in the wake of a the Assyrian invasion.

Just like us, the Israelites craved worldly security.

With the chaos would come an eruption of emotion. Distress. Dread. Fear. Anxiety. Worry.

The very opposite of peace.

How would peace be possible? “You keep him in perfect peace… because he trusts in you.”

This is the war that the emotion of worry reveals—the war to trust God or not. To live as a beloved child of the King or as an orphan who must fend for himself.

The two options represent either the path to peace or the way of worry.

Sine we don’t have to live as spiritual orphans, a transcendent, supernatural peace is available, regardless of external circumstances.

This is the peace that the Psalmist experienced in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.” (NASB)

This is how we sleep like a baby.

First, allow your emotions to awaken you to the war within.

 

Second, recognize that peace is not the result of a fixed circumstance, but of a fixed gaze.

Now we are moving from the emotional to the rational—where the essential question changes. Now, the question is not how do I feel, but what is true?

What is true about God? Is he really sovereign? Wise? Purposeful? Loving? Can I trust him?

Again, Isaiah 26:3, You keep him in perfect peace

whose mind is stayed on you…” (ESV)

Notice how Isaiah recognizes the connection between peace and the mind, not peace and emotion. You see, peace is not the result of forcing our emotions to change, but of having our minds align with what is true about God as our Father.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you.”

Paul puts is like this in Romans 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (NASB)

And in Romans 15:13, Paul says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NASB)

The writer of Hebrews 12:2 exhorts us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”

Those of you who have delivered a child know that in pre-labor classes the instructor teaches you to find an object in the room on which to focus as you breathe through the pain of labor contractions. It may be a picture on the wall or even the sink faucet. Focus keeps your mind locked so that you can stay the course.

The object God has given us upon which to focus in as we face the labor pains of this life is the cross.

Because in the cross, we come to see that what is most true about God is that he loves us with a dying love.

I may not know how this is going to turn out, but I can know that he is a strong, wise, good, good Father and I am his beloved son or daughte.

It is this love that is the epitome of grace.

First, allow your emotions to awaken you to the war within.

Second, recognize that peace is not the result of a fixed circumstance, but of a fixed gaze.

 

Third, the peace of God comes from peace with God through the grace of God.

Again, Isaiah 26:3, You keep him in perfect peace

whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (ESV)

What does he trust?  The larger context of verse 3 may help us discern the scope of faith that leads to peace.

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that the prophecy of Isaiah is in two major sections. The first section is chapters 1-39, which is largely about the impending judgment that is coming upon the nations and of the coming exile of Israel after the invasion of the Assyrians. The second section is chapters 40-66, which focuses on God’s purpose ultimately to show mercy to his people by returning and restoring them to their homeland.

This is where we read in Isaiah 26:1-4,

1 In that day [the day or promised restoration] this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. 2 Open the gates, that the righteous nation [people] that keeps faith may enter in. 3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”

This is a song about salvation. About God’s rescue of the people that would find its ultimate fulfilment not in deliverance from Assyrian invaders, but in deliverance from the penalty of sin in judgement—a judgment that would be displayed in the crucifixion of Jesus. Where Jesus is judged for our sins and we receive peace with God.

What we discover in both the Old and New Testaments is that the peace of God comes from peace with God through the grace of God.

Experiencing God’s peace is inextricably linked with experiencing God’s grace.

As Paul would say in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith [grace], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NASB)

I think this is why the apostle would often use grace and peace in conjunction with one another in the salutations of his letters.

For example, in 1 Corinthians 1:3, he writes, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What we see is that the peace of God belongs to those who have peace with God because they have experienced the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus.

As we abide in this grace, like a branch into a vine, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to experience what has been so elusive. True, deep, abiding peace.

After all, peace is not the result of trying to feel a certain way. Peace is a fruit of the indwelling influence of the Holy Spirit. As Paul says in Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”

It is at this point that, having begun with emotional awareness and then fixed our minds on what is true about God in the chaos, we are able to experience a new emotional response.

Because, what anxiety kills with regard to joy, hope, and peace can be revived and restored.

 

The process of experiencing peace involves both uploading and downloading.

We see this expressed for us in practical terms in our second memory verse.

1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (NIV)

This “casting” is a kind of prayer that is akin to uploading or transferring a file to an external server. We replace that worry file with one that we download from the external server.

It is like this: as we upload worry, we are able to download peace.

Did you know that Amazon keeps track when you highlight your Kindle book reader. Recently, Amazon released a list of the most popular highlighted passages in some bestselling books, such as The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series. Also released was the most highlighted passage in the Bible. Do you know what that passage is?

Philippians 4:5-6, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

If you struggle with anxiety, you are not alone. We all do.

But we don’t have to. We can upload our anxieties to God.

But what gives us confidence to do this? Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:7, “Because he cares for you.”

On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines Flight 255 from Detroit to Pheonix crashed shortly after taking off at 8:46pm. Of the 154 people on board, there was only one survivor, a 4-year old girl named Cecelia Chican. Investigators determined that Cecelia survived because as the plane was going down, her mother, Paula, had unbuckled herself and covered her daughter with her own body, shielding Cecelia from the fire and wreckage.[i]

Such is the sacrificial love of a mother.

And such is the sacrificial love of God, who demonstrated at the cross how much he cares for us as Jesus unbuckled himself from heaven and shielded us from the curse of the law and the fires of hell.

This is why we can “cast all [our] anxieties on him… because he cares for [us].”

If you have never believed this before, will you believe it today?

Maybe you have lost your confidence in his care for you? If so, will you remember the dying, sacrificial love of God for you so that you can upload your worries and download his supernatural peace that is able to guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

 


[i] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2188168/Sole-survivor-Michigan-plane-crash-1987-Cecelia-Cichan-speaks-time-25-years.html#ixzz5AiBZRPEJ

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