The Rest of the Spirit
“All the time that Peter was under heavy guard in the jailhouse, the church prayed for him most strenuously. Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, Peter slept like a baby. And there were guards at the door keeping their eyes on the place. Herod was taking no chances!” Acts 12:5–6 MSG
Having just returned from two consecutive nights in a sleeper bus with little sleep I have massive admiration for how ‘Peter slept like a baby’. Given my historical struggles with sleep and how prone I am to anxiety this passage has particular application for me.
I doubt very much if I’d have slept a wink if I was in Peter’s sandals given the apparent discomfort and what awaited me the next morning. I suspect I’d have worried over numerous things – from what the execution would be like to the unfinished work and family. Remember Peter had a wife as we are told elsewhere in Scripture and yet in this state he was at peace.
This was a work of the Spirit in him bringing him to this place of peace and rest. In Romans 8:26 we are assured of the help of the Spirit in our weaknesses and I am learning that even to sleep I need the help of the Spirit. I cannot assume on this gift from God. That at this very basic level too I need the provision of God – the gift of sleep.
Besides being a gift from God’s perspective, from our perspective this is a massive expression of faith. When faced with a life threatening situation to go to sleep is really saying, ‘I will trust God!’ It’s saying ‘hush’ to anxiety, it’s saying ‘peace, be still’ to worry. Some anxious days sleep may be a better expression of faith than even prayer. That is not to belittle the latter in any way but it is to say that having prayed there comes a time when having surrendered the matter into God’s hand – we go to sleep.
I need to learn that. I need to practice that. Do you?