When the Bible Makes Me Sleepy
This morning I read my Bible and it was so profound I almost fell asleep. I can’t really blame the Bible. I was on a comfy booth in a warm Starbucks and I was just tired. But it didn’t help that I was reading the life and times of Jehoash, Amaziah, and Jehoahaz.
Confession: this isn’t the first time I’ve almost (or actually) fallen asleep reading the Bible.
Many times in my past (including the not too distant past) and I’m guessing many times in my future, I have taken this as a cue that reading the Bible just wasn’t for me on a given day. Yet this morning I pushed through because of a challenge I received from a friend who spoke at our gathering last Sunday. He was talking about John 15, which says this…
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers…”
Remaining. Abiding. That’s an ongoing activity, not something I do for a while in the morning or evening, right? Those words speak to a presence with God throughout the day–working, playing, eating, resting. Yes! And the truth I have come to experience is that this essential activity of remaining or abiding does not happen magically. I have found it impossible to ignore God in the realm of intentional action and yet abide in him in the midst of living.
A funny thing happens when I devote myself to intentionally seeking him. When I set time aside that is not given to anything else. I am more able to abide in the times when I am doing something else. This seems to be mysteriously true even when my devoted time is full of fighting sleep or a wandering mind. Shoot, it seems to hold true even when I don’t really fight those things. It is as if God uses my attempts at abiding to allow me to actually abide. It is a significant mercy.
I like to accomplish things. I often postpone (which actually means cancel) all the spaces where I intentionally abide in Jesus because there are too many things I need to get done. You know, things for Jesus. Yet if I do not abide I am a dry branch with nothing real to offer. “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
I read through my sleepiness this morning because I heard Jesus say, through my friend, that there is no more important work than that of intentionally seeking to abide in Jesus. This is utterly counter-intuitive to me. But I have said that I will trust Jesus. And when I hear him speak I will try to obey. So I take him at his word that abiding in him is the most important thing I can do.