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The Dad who never sleeps

June 29, 2010 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121:1-8)

As many of you know, I am the father of three young children – Ryan (5), Will (3), and Nate (1). When each of them was a baby, I used to put them down for bed at night by standing near the crib, holding them in my arms, and singing quietly to them before laying them down. If you have children of your own, you know that it can be a challenge getting little ones to go to bed without crying for a parent to come and pick them up again. One question that often went through my head during the nighttime routine was which approach would help them go to sleep more peacefully: keeping my eyes closed while I sang to them, or keeping my eyes open. For a time, I went with the eyes closed approach. By closing my eyes, I reasoned that I was showing them by example that it was time for sleep.

Ultimately, however, I settled on the latter approach – putting them down with my eyes open, looking them in the eyes as I sang to them. And every time I did that, I was reminded of Psalm 121, especially verses 3-4: “He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” I see Psalm 121 as a reminder that our God never sleeps, that He is always watching over us, and it is for that reason that we can sleep, even when we are faced with the most anxious and fearful trials, for our security is ultimately in His good hands. We can sleep and cease our working and planning every night, knowing that He never sleeps and never stops working and planning on our behalf. And we have His promise in v. 7-8 that He will keep us from all harm, watching over our every step. Not that we won’t have troubles, of course, and painful situations in life, but that ultimately God our Father can protect our soul from the only thing that can truly harm us, the loss of His love and protection.

When I keep my eyes open as I sing my child to sleep, I try to communicate to him that he can sleep peacefully because his father is keeping his eyes open, protecting him, and that ultimately His Heavenly Father continues to protect him, even when his earthly father goes to sleep.

It is 5:30 in the morning as I am writing this. God brought Psalm 121 to my mind again this morning, convicting me that this quality of God is meant to be one of the characteristics of my life as a husband and father. Because He does not sleep, the family of God can rest secure, knowing that He never stops working and planning on their behalf. On a smaller scale, this is the call on my life as a husband and father – to emulate my Father by giving up sleep or anything else that is necessary in order to allow my family to rest secure. To work and plan so that they can sleep in peace, knowing that their father cares for them and will not let harm befall them, and ultimately knowing that this is even more true of their Father in heaven. Thank you, Lord, for your tireless work and care for your family; Lord, please help me to be a father like you are.

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