May 6, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Genesis 28:15-17 (NRSV)
“Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
We find a kind of care from God that the day’s labors can easily distract us from seeing. Like stars, we can recognize God’s shining presence sometimes better when we resolve to let go and rest. What Jacob’s experience helps us is with our dogma.
It should be more commonly understood but it is often forgotten: whether it is in a garden, or if we find ourselves in a strange new land or experience, or if we find ourselves in new relationships, we should remember that God is present.
We live in a noisy world. It has become increasingly difficult to create heartfelt pauses as a normal rhythm—real pauses, where desire, obligation and even condemnation are told to “wait.” Like a comma in a sentence, there is margin to just “be.” And even if we get a moment to pause, our fast-paced productivity and success-driven society would make us rate how well—or holy, even, our pause was. We come out of a sabbath judging (or getting judged on) whether we did sabbath well enough. It seems like sometimes the only place we can get that pause is sleep.
I return to Tish Harrison Warren’s words in The Liturgy of the Ordinary where she reminds us of the embedded question in that activity of sleep. In addition to the biological value, why do we spend a third of our lives doing this thing called sleep?
When we yield to sleep,
We practice letting go
of our reliance on self-effort
abiding in the good grace of our Creator.
is not only a confession of our limits;
It is also a joyful confession of God’s limitless care for us.
Warren is right. We find a kind of care from God in sleep that the day’s labors can easily distract us from seeing. Like stars, we can recognize God’s shining presence sometimes better when we resolve to let go and rest. What Jacob’s experience helps us with is our dogma. You need not have comfortable circumstances (Genesis 28:18). You may have birthright issues, trickster issues, issues of trying to find your place in life and history, or drama issues (Genesis 27). No matter where you are, there is always space for intercourse with God where He comes and reminds us as he did Jacob: “Know that I am with you and I keep you wherever you go.”
Where do you typically relegate God’s presence to? Where are you most likely to notice Him?
In what types of things (and on what days of the week) are you more likely to see His presence?
What was your reaction the last time you really understood how involved God was in the present moment?
Take the pause challenge. Grab your phone (or calendar, friend, etc.) and schedule a reminder with one word: “Pause.” When that moment comes, stop everything else you are doing. Look back at what has happened throughout the day. Then after giving thanks, look forward to where you are going. Then continue with your day.
The psalmist reminds us: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
What is rest, God, that you use it to show us how mindful of us you are—and the implications of rest that our entire protection is dependent on you never sleeping? Thank you for the sleep we get, for it heals the damage of the previous day’s toil. And thank you that it also reminds us that you are with us and for us. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Producing True Value at Work (Psalms 127 and 128)
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.