I don’t know when sleep became such a luxury. Maybe it was the day I brought my horses home to live with us instead of at boarding barn. Or maybe it was when we got our first rooster, a big, deep-chested Brahma whose crow outside our bedroom window sounded more like a foghorn. Or maybe it all came to a head when we added these four Valais percentage lambs who have me checking the security cameras in the middle of the night to make sure they’re sleeping safely and soundly in spite of the coyotes howling around perimeter of the farm. I’ve sprinted to the back door to flip on the stadium lights more than once since they arrived. Funny thing is, I’m the only one losing sleep. The lambs sleep like babies and I’m literally counting sheep. One. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four…and so goes the night.
In reality, we’ve predator-proofed this farm as much as we reasonably can. We actually call our sheep pen "Fort Knox." It’s triple fenced, security-lit and hot-wired with 7000 volts, more than enough shock value to keep foxes and coyotes at bay (don't ask me how I know). If I’m being perfectly honest, I suspect the real reason I'm up at night is that I’m a recovering control freak. Sleep = surrender. I don't surrender easily or well. If hell is going to break loose, it won’t be on my watch, I vow as I shake my fist at the figments of my overactive imagination.
But this photo of Thérèse sleeping under the pine boughs without a care in the world (taken by Shepherd Ed) inspires me. I rather like that she’s totally and blissfully zonked-out, snuggled up against a tree like it’s the comfiest pillow in the world. But what strikes me most is the luminous splash of sunlight on her back. Upon reflection, this almost ethereal beam of light calls to mind one of my favorite Psalms (121: 4-8):
Behold, the guardian of Israel
never slumbers nor sleeps.
The LORD is your guardian;
the LORD is your shade
at your right hand.
By day the sun will not strike you,
nor the moon by night
The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your soul.
The LORD will guard your coming and going
both now and forever.
Thérèse is the poster child for the perfect peace that comes with surrender. Somehow I’ve forgotten that my Guardian “never slumbers nor sleeps.” I can close my eyes and surrender to sleep because the keeper of my soul is watching throughout the night…and the day…and the night…forever. Forever!
1 Peter: 5:7 exhorts us to “cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” I take this to mean that He cares not just for me, but for everyone and everything I care about as well. That includes every aspect and resident of our little farm.
Starting tonight, I'll ask the Lord to help me surrender my anxieties and fears. I'll snuggle into my pillow and let the Son-light shine on me while I sleep. Tonight I won’t be counting sheep. I’ll be counting my blessings, trusting His promises, and resting in His love.
Sweet dreams, y’all!