We recently spent a night in an airport in Bogota, Colombia, on our way to see family. Since we were standby passengers and the local pilots were on strike, we weren’t alone, but it still was a long night. My husband gallantly guarded our baggage by attempting to sleep with his feet up on the cart. My daughter tossed and rolled, usually landing on my shoulder. I shivered with my arms crossed and head bobbing forward as I tried to sleep.
Then I started to think about the God who doesn’t slumber or sleep.
“He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:3–4 NKJV).
I started to wonder about the difference between slumber and sleep. Looking around that cold airport, I saw lots of people sleeping on mats, chairs, or across their suitcases. Workers were busy preparing the terminal for the next day’s schedule and the restaurants were busy cooking up late-night meals and early breakfasts. There was a definite buzz of activity where normally there would be stillness.
Slumber means to doze, to sleep lightly. I think of a delightful Sunday afternoon nap or how my dogs sleep but come to attention quickly when a delivery man approaches our front door. Sleep, on the other hand, means suspension of consciousness for restoration. This is the deep, drooling sleep. The sleep where dreams dance. We need both kinds of sleep. Quick cat naps give us an energy burst for the next activity, and deep REM sleep allows our bodies to recuperate and heal.
But God doesn’t sleep. He’s constantly watching over us. In the airport that night, God was aware when we weren’t. He was looking down at us, protecting and guiding us lest we make a wrong move or wander into trouble.
God doesn’t need to nap or sleep deeply. He has endless alertness for countless situations simultaneously across the globe. This is wonderfully amazing. I find it easy to tap into his steady love, grace, and mercy, but his alertness is not something I often think about. It’s like the way we rely on traffic lights to change automatically or our hearts to pump without being told. And yet God is not on autopilot. He’s deliberate in his actions and thoughts. He’s consistent, keeping his promises without fail.
God promises to watch over us as his children. He doesn’t take breaks or look away. He knows the infinitesimal details of our lives, taking in the biggest and smallest pictures. He sees the past, the present, and the future, and he cares more than we can understand.
“The eyes of the Lord [are] in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3 NKJV).
There’s comfort to be had in resting in the knowledge that God sees.
Father, let us enter into your rest today and allow you to watch over what we can’t see. Help us to trust that you don’t slumber or sleep on the job, that you have our best interests in your heart at all times.
Photograph © Glen Noble, used with permission