One of the many things that I am grateful for is that my parents trained me from a very early age to sleep through almost anything, unlike many other people I know. Mom used to run the vacuum cleaner during my nap each day and it was not unusual for the television or radio to be on when we were put down for our naps.
Whenever we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, we laid down on the mohair sofa in the living room and I used to count the tick-tocks of the grandfather clock in the corner – until I fell asleep, that is. It got to the point that even the quarterly striking of the clock didn’t wake me. And that includes all three chimes – Westminster, Canterbury and Wellington – Grandpa changed the song of the chimes the first of every month.
When I was two or three, I remember Hugh and Eloise, a couple who worked for us in our home, would work outside my room and it never disturbed me. In fact, when it was time to get up from my nap, I would wake up and climb out of my crib to ride on the top of the Hoover vacuum as Eloise finished her cleaning responsibilities upstairs. I loved Hugh and Eloise – and my memories of being so small that I could ride around the house with them on the vac.
I could sleep at any time of the day or night – whether the room had shades or not – and almost regardless of the noise levels around me. When I started to travel extensively, I would actually leave the TV on all night, kind of like white noise in the background. It became something of a habit. And when I am home, the funny thing is that each night, we still leave the bedroom TV on a sleep timer when we head to our room, but without my glasses I can’t see the picture from my side of the bed.
I pride myself (and am thankful to my parents) that I can sleep through anything – almost…… That’s because Janet can whisper something to me in the middle of the night and I will hear her. Maybe Hank is snoring, or I am, or the room is too hot or too cold and Janet will ask me to do something to fix whatever needs adjusting.
I don’t recall that it was always like that – but this summer we will have been married 50 years – that’s something like 18,250 nights together. When I adjust for the number of nights that we have been apart throughout the years I still think that we have slept in the same room north of 17,000 nights together. Of course, we know each other’s sleep patterns and the longer we are together, the more we anticipate most of the things in our lives.
So why am I so attuned to Janet, and why is she so attuned to me? It’s almost like we can communicate with each other – without even really waking up… It occurs to me that this is the way things should be in our relationship with God as well. The more time we spend with Him, the better we get to know Him, the more we will hear His gentle, familiar voice – even in the “watches of the night” when we are to be sleeping.
After all, we are to become accustomed to the voice of God. In ancient times, shepherds slept on the ground next to each other while the sheep mingled together in the pastures. Early in the morning, as each shepherd awoke, he would call his sheep and those who belonged to him would follow him out of the pens and they would be on their way.
Our verse for tonight is from the Gospel of John, the disciple who Jesus loved. John gives us the words of Jesus when talking about His “sheep.” Those are people who believe in Jesus and “belong” to Him. John tells us, in John 10:27-30, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to know Him and respond to His voice. My prayer is that we may always be listening for the voice of God, directing our steps and being drawn closer to Him in the process. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…