And then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” (John 11:7-10)
Relate: My senior year I worked a job on campus as security. I got to drive around in the campus SUV or golf cart wearing that blue uniform while everyone else was asleep. One time I got to scare a couple high school kids away who were sneaking around the back lot to smoke their pot. That was the sum extant of my adventure. For the most part all I would do was walk around trying to stay awake, let the random student who was returning well past curfew into their dorm, and unlock all the buildings early in the morning. Not much happens on a Bible College campus between the hours of 1AM – 7AM… unless you lived on Horton 2nd West.
Another thing that wasn’t happening was me getting enough sleep. It wasn’t just that I was working at those terrible hours, I was also very involved in leadership on campus, I was taking a full course load, and I was doing my best to maintain an active social life. Something had to give and usually it was those eight hours we should all need to survive. It wasn’t the only time I’ve worked an overnight job. I also did it for a few weeks working as a stock boy for WalMart. (Don’t ever work for WalMart. They maintain their low prices in part by abusing their employees and firing anyone who even thinks the word “union”) Also, I worked overnight for a home for the developmentally disabled. I will never again work an overnight job.
Back to my college years, I was going through a spiritual desert. It was a rough time and I just felt like God was so distant. I was talking to one of my professors and he said the most profound thing. He said, “Do you want a spiritual breakthrough. Go home, right now, and go to bed. Shut off your alarm. Just sleep for as long as you need. Tomorrow, do the same thing. As soon as you possibly can, get home and get to sleep. Don’t worry about anything else. After that come back to me and lets talk.” The craziest thing is, it worked. I got two nights back to back of about 10 hours of sleep and I was fine again.
React: What he taught me was a profound lesson for my spiritual life. It is a fact that a person who is not sleeping well is ten times more likely to be depressed. I have also noticed in my life that the times of greatest temptation happen at night. Pick your temptation: greed, bitterness, pride, lust… those times between sunset to sunrise is most likely to rear its ugly head in my life and in yours.
For me, I’ve found that one of the greatest ways to stay on top of my spiritual and emotional well being is to get up when my alarm goes off in the morning. When I do that, at night I am tired and get to bed. I am less likely to be on my computer or watching TV when I should be sleeping. I am less likely to be laying there tossing and turning at night as my mind wanders in directions it need not go. Anger, bitterness, obsessive guilt, lust… they all seem to strike hardest after around 10PM. If I work while it is day, I am less likely to stumble at night.
God, You have said that You will provide a way out from any temptation. Sometimes that way out comes long before that temptation strikes. You have told us to pray that we not be led into temptation. Sometimes that means taking a different road many steps earlier on our journey. You have said that we should walk in the daytime that we not stumble at night. Perhaps we need to begin taking that a bit more literally. Help me to have a daytime lifestyle. Let Your Spirit nudge my heart when I am considering staying up too late in the evening. Help me to be wise in all my actions and lifestyle that temptation would not have its opportunity. Let me walk in the light as You are in the light.