YOU NEED SLEEP
How long has it been since you slept and felt fully rested, body and soul? Uh, wait, that's not a fair question. Like most people you probably can't remember such a thing because it was when you were a baby and had no care in your mind. You were watched over and didn't question it. You slept whenever you wanted, and didn't give it a thought. You have long forgotten the bliss that you took for granted and enjoyed without questioning it. What has happened to you since?
Well, you had such an enthusiasm for life as a child that you woke excitedly, whatever time of the day that might have been, and you attacked life without restraint. As a child, you didn't worry about meals or clothing or housing. Life was your adventure, and you went after it. You might be able to imagine that time, but you don't really remember it.
Expectations, obligations, and demands entered the scene. "It's time to get up!" You might remember that. "It's time to eat." "Pick up your clothes, you can't leave them lying on the floor." "Hush, I'm busy." And I'm sure you can add a lot of memorable expectations that were placed upon your life, until you were no longer feeling bliss but stress. I don't mean to be unrealistic here; of course everyone must learn to function in this world as small children, and such behavior-conditioning is necessary. That is how we learn to succeed in life as adults. We must adapt to changing situations; we must compete with others; we must satisfy whatever society demands of us, or else we are pushed aside as failures. As you grew from babyhood to childhood to adulthood, the stresses increased until your life was not your own at all. You married, and never again could you feel free to think only of yourself. Your obligations increased. Then came children. Looking back was no longer possible. Eyes ahead, intense, focused, work, make money, provide, keep everybody happy, work, work, work! Oh, how one yearns for a moment of relief, but it isn't permitted; don't think about it. Keep that treadmill going; don't let it stop. Wives may get a moment of peace during the day when the kids are in school, but it must be brief for they will soon be home. Meals must be ready, along with all the other tasks required to make a home. Husbands come home tired because they've worked under someone else's eye and direction; that stress is added to the workload. Men have worked out a little scheme by which to grab a moment of relief: Saturday, a few beers and a ballgame! Just a chance to get the mind on something playful for a moment. Most of society criticizes such crude male behavior without understanding it, so a man can't really feel good about it. But, he does it out of desperation, in order to recharge the batteries and go on to another week.
It's no wonder we age so quickly. After twenty or thirty years of working, we are old and ailing. Retirement is hardly an option; one has no choice; the body is spent and the mind is angry about a life that didn't work out like it should have. How it should have been is no longer something one can imagine because that part of the mind has forgotten how to function. We get old and feel confused about God's program; surely it isn't supposed to be like this, is it? The subconscious mind and the body seem to join forces to solve the problem; they start breaking body parts. There, that gives one an excuse to get some rest! Of course, one cannot consciously enjoy such rest because the feeling of obligation still hangs over your head. No, you have to complain and feel sad, lest others think you want to abandon them.
That's life. Yes, that is how we get by in this world. If you turn off that path, society will let you know very clearly that you don't fit in. You may not have a job most of the time, and loved ones will bemoan their lost relative or friend. Oh, why can't you just stand up to life and meet the expectations which will provide you with the luxuries of the good-life, like everyone else? You will hear people say to you frequently, when you are describing some of your adventures: "I wish I could do that. But I have a family." Or, "I admire you; you can do anything; most of us can't do things like that; we've got obligations." Always the implication is there that you have not lived up to your expectations.
Dear ones, what I have described above is a path which ages you prematurely, that breaks down your body and your mind and deprives you of that peace which passes understanding. And, it doesn't have to be that way. The alternative is exactly what Jesus described as He urged us to deny this world, to let it go and walk away from it. He told us not to worry about tomorrow. He even said, "Don't labor for food." He told us to die to this world, and follow Him to Golgotha in order to be free. Nobody is crucifying Christians anymore, at least in the old way, but there are other ways in which we can die to this world. We can confront the truth about it, that it is a killer of all who yield to its demands. I want to suggest in this article a method by which you can reclaim your life and your mind.
You probably can't work things out in just this way, but imagine for a moment this scenario. Near your home there is a small cottage where you can go to get some sleep. You have everyone's permission to go there and sleep all you want, for as many days or weeks as you want. There is an intercom, so you can announce occasionally that you are still okay to people who care about you, and who provide a meal whenever you want to come to the house for it. Other than eating, and necessary body functions, you have unlimited peace and quiet. You can go to sleep whenever you want and sleep all the hours you want, and no one will question you or advise you about it. No TV, no radio, no mind-occupying distractions; just peace, quiet, and rest.
I'm betting that you think that sounds terrible! Boring! You are so programmed for the rat-race, and its continuous overwhelm of stimuli that it terrifies you to think of being alone without the concerns that you've lived with for all your life. You are so conditioned to the treadmill and society's demands, that it would be terror to confront your lone self as a solitaire. You've become convinced, and even believe, society's judgment of you, that you are a failure like everyone else, and if you slow down you're a goner. You don't want to even entertain the thought of being alone with your self, where you might come face to face with your belief that you are a failure. Some people would feel panic just to imagine what I've suggested. But, please read on.
Surely you can remember some times in your life when morning came and you were snuggled comfortable and peaceful. You laid there, not wanting to open your eyes, enjoying a blissful contentment. If a thought about the coming day entered your mind, you just pushed it aside, and stretched your peaceful feeling as long as you could. The body was relaxed, and felt like it was happy, yes, happy. Perhaps your thoughts drifted to your own identity, of whom you really are apart from the way the world sees you. In that sleepy, dreamy, peaceful state, you felt like a child again, safe, secure, and enjoying just being yourself. I want to just lay here this morning; sleep in; let the world go by; this is so nice. Remember that? Well, that is where you start. You reclaim that for yourself, and enjoy it, without any demands that you come to the house and do anything. What I am describing is the spiritual exercise which mystics have found for themselves, and which they value so highly they would trade all the world's treasures for it. It is in that blissful and peaceful state that your spirit comes alive again in your mind, that you discover your only real failing was denying your own self, that God never stopped loving you for a moment, that Heaven must be like this.
So, you go to bed when you wish, and you lay awake for a little while trying to adjust to the idea that no one will be expecting anything from you in the morning. Perhaps you can really relax; it's doubtful for that usually takes some time to achieve; you've long forgotten what real relaxation is. But, you do relax more than usual. And for that reason, you awaken early in the morning, ready to go, feeling pretty good because nothing is expected of you. Freedom from obligation is a wonderful feeling in itself. Instead of getting up, you lay there thinking about this adventure and what will come of it. If you are fortunate, you can recover that childhood feeling of wanting to lay in bed for a long time, and you just drift back into the sleepy alpha state of peacefulness.
Perhaps it won't be quite as peaceful as I just described. There are likely to be feelings of panic. Thoughts will jar your mind, and urge you to get up quick to resume your proper place in your home. Fears will arise, perhaps something like: they won't care for me if I don't perform as usual; maybe they are glad to see me out of their sight, etc. There are an infinite number of questions and fears that might assail you, to make you give up this stupid project. You might suffer some of the distress of one who is placed into solitary confinement. You might suffer some terrible feelings as you attempt a cold-turkey withdrawal from the life to which you were addicted. You might suffer chills, shakes, and cold sweats. Withdrawal is seldom easy, unless one really wants the alternative badly enough, and focuses on its rewards rather than loss of the addiction. Many Viet Nam heroin addicts returned to America and their homes and their old lives, never to feel a withdrawal symptom. That was because they changed one life for another, and they really wanted the return to the happiness of the old life they once knew. When you start feeling anxiety about being alone with yourself, think about the happiness you knew as a child when you were cared for and could sleep as long as you wanted, and everything in your world was okay. They weren't going to stop loving you just because you slept long hours. It was okay, and you didn't question it.
Okay, friends, here is the hard cold fact. You can do the above willingly, or you can let worldly-stresses force it on you. Old age is a kind of blessing in this way. The body wears down, and you will be unable to run the treadmill anymore. You will suffer body ailments, and will find yourself sitting alone, perhaps disabled, while younger generations pursue their hectic lives. Unless you are willing to give up that hectic life for yourself, you will be complaining and unhappy with your plight. You will feel terribly worthless and in-valid. You will get depressed in your loneliness, and might get so cranky that no one wants to be around you. After all, they've got lives to lead, and your attitude doesn't help a bit. That's the old age process, isn't it? That's what you can look forward to, unless you decide to shrug off the stresses and reclaim the happiness of your spiritual mind. Stress relief, like I describe, can prevent body ailments.
I'm not going to try to define what you should look for in your quest for your identity, or your quest for God. No one can do that for another; each person is unique and must be free to find his own path, and that without judgment by any other person. You should feel free to think whatever thoughts that come to your mind, perhaps to challenge God, perhaps to cry from the depths of your soul about the injustice of life, perhaps to drain your spirit of all hope until you are only a yielding little wisp of nothing, spiritually destitute. I will tell you this, that it is only then that God's spirit can speak and be heard in your inner self. Only when the dross of this world is dumped out, and you feel that nothing is left, then the subtle whisper of your inner spirit can speak. And your despondency must be genuine; you can't fake it; you really need to feel that there is nothing in this world left for you, that all is gone, that even you are gone, and your soul is empty, and there is nothing left. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The Greek phrase in that verse means "spiritually destitute." It is only when you have given up your worldly self that you can feel and know the presence of God. At that very moment, even God doesn't seem important, and you are content to feel empty, void of everything, not caring whether life continues or not. There is no feeling of sadness or of joy, only emptiness. It is that same state which the prodigal-son felt, when he decided to head toward home, not even expecting his family to welcome him, that one must get to in order to realize what Christ's reference to heaven really meant.
So, you can find some way to reclaim yourself, or you can let old-age force it upon you in very unpleasant ways. You can resist it, and if you are terribly unlucky, you can die peacefully of old-age without ever having the spiritual experience. Or, if the spirit is still a living spark inside you, and God wants to reclaim you, then you will be disabled in old-age, where you have no choice but to turn your mind toward Him.
What I am suggesting in this article, is that you find some way to sleep like a baby, and make that walk toward God your own adventure, rather than requiring the incapacitation of your body to force it upon you. One thing which I strongly believe, is that God will not lose a single one of His family, that He will engineer some kind of program to reclaim even the most stubborn of His children, no matter how unpleasant it might be for you.
So, what you need is sleep. It might take days or weeks before you find yourself again. It might take months! Such a program is not easy to achieve. Your family or friends need to know it is okay for you to do it; they need to support you in it, without making you feel that you are letting them down. Perhaps they need to do it for themselves, but at the moment, you are the one who must undertake the adventure for yourself. They can't do it for you, but they can be there to tell you that it is okay. The word "selfish" is inappropriate, and not allowed. If your loved-ones love you, they will be there for you.
If what I described above means nothing to you; if it didn't strike a chord within you, then you need not bother with the next stage of understanding. We all have within us a powerful revulsion against giving up this world and yielding ourselves to an unknown. We think we survived to adulthood because we learned how to survive in this world, how to compete, and how to get what we want. What kind of crackpot suggests that we give all that up for some indefinable spirituality, whatever that is? Should one just walk away from his home and security to starve in the woods, or freeze to death? What kind of nonsense is that? My answer to that is that you won't starve or freeze unless that is your goal, and it is not what I'm suggesting. For those who are willing to entrust themselves totally to God, what you need will be provided. In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us not to worry about shelter and clothing and food because God will take care of those things. The catch is this, you must stop worrying about those things first. He doesn't play games or respond to some test you might design just to see if you really can trust Him. You CAN trust because the Spirit works that faith in you if you are sincere. There is an important lesson for you in your own act of falling asleep. To do that, you must relinquish control of your body and your consciousness, and that isn't something you can do as a positive action; it is accomplished only by yielding to the unknowable peace of sleep. You merely let the conscious self die. Sleep is called petite mort which means "little death." When God tells you that your highest path is to die to this world, it is this process to which He calls you.
On the cross, Jesus described the process for us, but we haven't recognized it. First, he said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Just look at what he released in that statement: any anger at injustice, any anger at his Edomite killers, and all emotional attachments to things of this world which He was then leaving. Secondly, He said to the man hanging near Him, "today you will be with me in Paradise." Here we get assurance that when we are dead to this world, our spirits live on. That thief, while in terrible pain, admitted his own guilt and credited Jesus with being unjustly killed. He had thereby yielded himself to Truth and justice and felt no anger about it. He had given up this world. Thirdly, Jesus told His disciple, "Behold, your mother." Jesus gave up His family, his attachments to loved ones, even her from whom his bodily life came. Fourthly, He said, "Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani," which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Here is the spiritual destitution that Jesus spoke of in His first beatitude, that there is nothing left, not even God. Fifth was His statement, probably weakly spoken, "I thirst." Probably, it was simple physical thirst that He spoke of. The spiritual thirst had probably already surrendered to a feeling of simple destitution, being without anything and caring nothing anymore. Sixth, He said, "It is finished." It's all over, completed, and no longer does He even wish to do anything about it. He has yielded His all, and let go of control. The final achievement is obtained. And lastly, Jesus spoke, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit." And that is what it all comes down to, after everything else is gone, you are really Spirit, and that real you is in the hands of your Father, no matter what. When you can yield yourself so totally to that FACT, then you become an expression of Him. Yes, you become one through whom God lives and experiences life.
By yielding your conscious self to sleep, you entrust your Father with your self, that He might do His will with it, and you will be a piece of clay which He can mold and use for His purpose, whatever that might be, anew for you each day. So, die to this world. Yield to your unknown Father. Let your life be His expression, without worrying about tomorrow. Let your Father care for you and guide you and bless you. Know that it is He who lives in and through you so you are not proud of your own self. Be proud within and honored that you are being a word, spoken by Him to this world. Start by learning how to yield yourself to sleep, and to Him.
There, we have looked at two levels of understanding: first how sleep is a lesson in yielding one's self to the unknown, and secondly, how Jesus demonstrated the process of yielding one's self up to God, in the process of dying to this world. But why? In the end, there is still that question of why we must yield up this conscious self unto death. Why would our God, who gave us life in this world, want us to die to it? If we should die to it, why put us here in the first place? What kind of program is this? It's all very strange!
Yes, it is strange, until one knows the Big Picture, something that has not been known before, and is only now being revealed to His children in these end-times. You see, God's family descendants from Adam have a special destiny in the future, and God is preparing us for it. When we cross into that final promised-land, from kingdom of World into kingdom of God, then we must be willing to let go of the World we knew. We will be transformed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, to become heirs of God's kingdom. In order to make that transition, we must be ready to yield ourselves totally to God, to give up all control to Him, and to live as His expression in the new kingdom. We can't carry any old baggage across from this world to the next. Remember the Israelites in the wilderness? None of the generation who left Egypt was permitted to cross into the promised-land except Joshua (real name iesu/Jesus) and Caleb. Only those who are able to leave all worldly baggage behind can cross over.
Just imagine that moment when the World kingdom ends. It will be a cataclysmic geophysical event. The magnetic field will suddenly switch polarity, so a compass will point south instead of north. The planet will wobble like a gyroscope for a few days, volcanoes will fill the sky with ash, earthquakes and tidal waves will destroy most of earth's people, but not all. The negative energy which empowered earthly, physical, material life and existence will suddenly switch to positive, and it will be a puzzling experience. Our bodies will be transformed, and all the natural physical laws by which we have lived will no longer work the same. For those who understand what is happening, it will be the long sought dream being fulfilled as we YIELD to it and let God control the play. For those who don't understand what is happening, the loss of World will be terrible; their hearts will fail them from fear; life will be a nightmare, and they will perish because they try to hang on to that which is being destroyed. They will be destroyed with it.
And how will you feel? You have an established way of life, a home, nice belongings, perhaps money in the bank. Will you watch it being taken from you with fear or with delight? Unless you understand the plot and them of God's divine pageant, hoping that the World will disappear and kingdom of God begin, you will feel terrified. Watching all that you've known disappear is one thing, but that which is coming is a complete unknown! If we knew exactly what Heaven would be like, it wouldn't be so scary, but we don't. We don't really know what transformation means, or who we will be after it happens to us. Will you be able to yield to that experience, letting God take control? Or will you resist? If you have thought about it, and practiced it, and prayed and meditated about it, then you will rejoice to see Satan's World destroyed, like the angels around God's throne will rejoice. You don't need to know what is coming up for you in the kingdom of God. You have already learned to yield yourself each night unto an unknowable sleep, and you have prepared yourself to leave this worldly life to an unknown death, so, at the moment of transition, you will yield yourself to the transformation of yourself and you will let go of that world where you used to find security.
Now, when you go to sleep tonight, lie there for a few moments dreamily thinking of how this experience is preparing you for that grand transition into the final promised-land. Let it be okay with you to shut down your conscious mind, knowing that God is in control and He will see you through the night. In His hands you have your ultimate and eternal security, no matter what this ugly world might offer. Just yield to the sweet peace, knowing that He, within you, does not sleep. His loving hands feel so very secure!
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