May 5, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am a very active dreamer! This morning I awoke grappling with the idea that I had two graduate decrees but no job. I was desperately trying to figure out what I should be doing with my life. It wasn’t a desperate search but perplexing.
I have found that my sleep patterns are not as consistent during this current pandemic. I don’t think I am anxious, but I might be nervous subconsciously.
A couple of years ago researchers discovered some new insights into the value of sleep and rest.
Study Shows that Sleep Actually Shrinks Our Brains
Proper sleep habits have long been understood as essential to physical and mental health, but the exact reasons why have still remained a matter of scientific intrigue. Recently, however, a research team released findings that shine some more light on the natural processes our bodies undergo during sleep. They found that during the hours we are unconscious, the brain takes advantage of the opportunity and actually shrinks the synapses that connect the brain's neurons by up to 20%.
The reason, the researchers presume, is to remove inconsequential information and make room for new memories to be made. Without this process, the synapses would become overloaded with information and not be able to cope. "It is critical to have pruning back at night, so that the huge amount of information encoded by temporary synapses during the day won't overwhelm the brain," says Russell Foster, a sleep researcher at the University of Oxford. "Pruning ensures that only the most important information is retained." The study also noted that this neurological activity is likely only one of many "housekeeping" items that take place during a good night's sleep, emphasizing how important rest truly is.
This reminded me that God built into our bodies the need for rest. Jesus took mini retreats with his disciples. I was at a national mission’s conference called Urbana in 1979, the host told us that a nap may be the most spiritual thing you do today.
Jesus invited us to rest in Him. Take a moment to read and meditate on this invitation.
NIV Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Life makes us weary and burdened. We sense we are carrying loads that weigh us down to the point of exhaustion! I love Jesus’ promise to give us rest. The word rest could be translated “refresh.” Is your soul in need of refreshment? Join the Savior’s yoke and learn from him. The work you are doing is meant to enhance your sense of Jesus’ presence and power in your life. You are not called to work alone but in His easy yoke. As He refreshes you, then you are better equipped to refresh others.
Paul was thankful for the refreshment he received from his friend Philemon.
NIV Philemon 1:7
Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people.
NIV Philemon 1:20
I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord;
refresh my heart in Christ.
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to some folks who you know in need of refreshment. Make of list of them and pray over them. I challenge you to try to refresh three souls this week. Take a prayer walk through your neighborhood. Make a phone call. Write a note or a text message. Express your gratitude to God for someone and tell them about your prayer. Make some cookies and share with your neighbor. Leave a message on your neighbor’s doorstep. He will guide you to be a refresher where you live.
Remember we are called to live in the rest of Christ so we might refresh others!