You know, Paul, the whole world doesn’t stop turning just because you’ve gone to sleep.
I never really thought it did. It is an intriguing concept, though.
I can’t help but think of the Washington Irving character, Rip Van Winkle, who slept through the American Revolutionary War and a host of other events—deaths, births, and weddings to name a few—which changed the course of history. Old Rip fell asleep under a tree in the mountains one afternoon and woke up twenty years later, expecting things to be the same as when he lay down for his nap.
The world didn’t stop turning while he slept.
My young friend, who is a card dealer in a nearby casino, said the words you read up above to me the other day. I wanted to know what a typical night is like in the gambling world, never having been in the place myself. I don’t stay away because I’m worried gambling is on the list of activities banned by my faith; it’s just that I don’t have any money I want to throw in the trash.
When I use the words typical night, I’m not talking about an evening, nor even the late night hours up to midnight or so. My friend works the tables until seven or eight in the morning. He works the night shift.
It turns out there are folks who gamble at any hour, some because they want to, others because they have a compulsion. While we sleep, they lose money—or, sometimes, win money. Mostly, they lose it.
While we sleep, they pray. Yes, that’s what I said. They pray.
I would suppose more praying goes on in that huge casino than in most of the churches in my little town on any given day. It’s not the kind of prayer we normally voice, but in some ways, it’s not far off.
Desperate people, in need of help, beg the only One they know never sleeps.
He never sleeps. (Psalm 121:3,4)
Do you remember the first time you learned the concept that things happened while you slept?
Your parents took advantage of it on Christmas Eve. While you slept and dreamed of that Easy-Bake Oven, or that V-rroom Motor for your bicycle, they turned the living room from a drab place for boring adults to sit and talk into a wonderland of toys and wrapping paper. One instant, you were laying your head down on your pillow and the next, astounding things had happened!
I also remember the long automobile trips to Grandma’s house—ordeals that stretched out from here to eternity, it seemed. The ubiquitous query—are we there yet? —filled the air until, one by one, we kids nodded off.
Miracle of miracles! When the sudden halt of the car’s motion brought us back to consciousness, we were at our destination, being bundled out of the car and into Grandma’s arms and from there, into her kitchen to taste her amazing peanut butter cookies.
While we slept, the endless miles were erased, the boring hours passed, as if by magic.
The world doesn’t stop turning just because you’ve gone to sleep.
I’m not a kid anymore.
Grown-ups had to prepare the living room for Christmas morning—long, busy hours of labor, while children slept peacefully in their beds, dreaming of presents.
Dad had to drive through the night, with endless curves in the road and hours of drinking black coffee to stay awake long enough to complete the trip, while the brats slept in the back seat, heads toppled over onto each other’s shoulders like so many rag dolls.
I’m not a kid anymore. (1 Corinthians 13:11)
Most of us aren’t.
Why are we still sleeping through the important stuff?
Folks pray for someone to help them in their addiction, and we sleep peacefully.
A mother cries for her still-born child and we sleep unaware.
A young man decides to take his life and we doze on.
The world doesn’t stop turning just because we’ve gone to sleep.
The red-headed lady who raised me had a saying (she always did): Make hay while the sun shines.
The sun is shining. Somewhere, it’s shining.
The Teacher said to them, You think the harvest is months away, don’t you? Wake up and look around you! The fields are white and ready to harvest right now. (John 4:35)
The world keeps spinning.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening ~ Robert Frost ~ 1874-1963)
But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest…
(Proverbs 6:9,10 ~ NLT)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.