Monday, March 29, 2010

Sweet Slumber

My sons pounded up the basement stairs and threw themselves down on the living room furniture just in time to catch SportsNation, one of their favorite sports talk shows on TV. Although the volume was turned to its usual high decibel level, I was able to tune out most of the chatter until I heard the start of a segment that airs at the show's end, called End of the Day. The lead-in to that portion features a quick flip through clips of various athletes and sports figures using the phrase at the end of the day in television interviews, one right after another. The rapid repetition of those six words in those opening moments burned them into my brain, causing me to sit up and listen more closely when they've passed my way again. And lately I've run into them wherever I've gone. I've heard them at church in my pastor's sermon, read them in stories in the newspaper, and passed people using them in everyday conversations as I've run my errands. Surely there's a reason they've come to my attention, as nothing in life happens by chance. Curiosity led me to the internet to google the phrase and see what I could come up with.

Figuratively, at the end of the day means when all things have been considered. It's usually the prelude to a conclusion an individual has drawn after all the relevant facts on a subject have been studied and weighed, and obviously follows some type of consideration, reflection, or contemplation. The literal translation of the phrase, however, refers to the time when one's work or waking hours are over. And that generally occurs when the daylight hours are over and we are ready to slip into slumber. Perhaps God doesn't want us to do so before giving the preceding hours some thought. As I wondered just what things He wanted me to think about, the following words came to mind:

Reflection. As Christians we no longer live our lives aimlessly or with selfish intent. Instead, at the intersection of our faith and our future we find the plans and purposes of God. We have general duties that we all should be about, such as living a life that glorifies our Father, sharing our faith with unbelievers, and helping those in need. But each of us also has daily specific assignments based on the individual gifts and callings God has put inside of us that we are to apply our time and attention towards accomplishing. And the end of the day is a good time to look back over the preceding hours and consider how well we applied ourselves to those tasks. Sometimes we sigh in satisfaction, knowing that we did what God asked of us that day. And many times we simply resolve to try harder the next.

Thanksgiving. Perhaps nothing benefits our lives more than the giving of thanks for blessings received. It changes our attitudes from the head to the heart, and as we engage in this practice we'll find that we recognize the hand of God at work in our lives in ways we never could have imagined before. We can't help but live happier lives as a result.

Supplication. The Bible tells us repeatedly to turn our troubles over to God instead of stewing over them ourselves, yet when we're in the midst of them that seems to be the last thing we think to do. Releasing them to the Father to deal with brings peace and rest to our troubled souls.

If God is concerned about how we end our day, He is even more interested in how we come to the end of our days, our spiritual condition at the conclusion of our lives. He warns us not to fall into our eternal sleep without likewise giving the matter some thought. Some wish to postpone that contemplation, yet the truth is that we never know which nighttime consideration will be our last. God's Word tells us that today is the day of salvation, and if you haven't already made your spiritual future secure, the time to do so is now. Reflect on your life and your need of a Savior, give thanks that One has been provided, and ask Him to forgive and cover your sins with the penalty He paid for them on the cross.

When I was a little girl, my mother's parting words to me as I headed off to bed each night were always, "Sleep sweet," her wish that I would have a restful repose free of nightmares or worries of any kind. Now it's not my mother but my Heavenly Father who reminds me that at the end of the day only one thing is important, that being my relationship with His Son. Daily I need to give that matter my attention, that at the end of my days, truly my (eternal) sleep will be sweet.

"The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly] - That people may understand a proverb and a figure of speech or an enigma with its interpretation, and the words of the wise and their dark sayings or riddles." (Proverbs 1:5-6 AMP)


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