Sweet sleep, unafraid

MANY people these days seem so fearful of crime at night that they sleep fitfully if at all. This is sad. Both the anguish and sleeplessness are unnecessary. Through prayer to the one God, we can have natural, restful sleep and also be wakened if that is wise. The Bible promises: ``When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. . . . The Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.'' 1 The writer of this gentle promise also makes clear, however, the importance to our well-being of wisdom and understanding.2 These are far more important than spiked fences or state-of-the-art warning systems, as necessary as these may sometimes seem. Wouldn't most of us agree that wisdom and understanding, in their deepest, most meaningful sense, relate to something more than human knowledge and perception? Don't they certainly include more than we may have learned in school? The conviction we gain from God that He is infinite good, perfect Love, characterizes the most profound kind of understanding. He is the creator of all that exists, including man, His image, who never slips from His care. To God and His man there is no crime, no criminal, no v ictim, no danger, no fear. All that is real exists now and forever in perfect harmony and genuine love. This is the absolute spiritual reality of being. Of course, the situation in much of society seems light-years from this truth. To many of us, the world reflects more the condition Ezekiel saw when he wrote centuries ago, ``The land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.'' 3 The wisdom that the Bible tells us we need to have in order to sleep in peace may seem as far from us as the sleep it self. But this need not be. We can find genuine peace through a perception of God and His absolute, perfect government of man. We gain this perception through spiritual sense. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ``Spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good.'' 4 In spite of what many have been taught to believe, spiritual sense is not a precious gift to a few special people. It is a precious gift to every one of us, each of whom is special to God. We all, innately, have spiritual sense just as we all have a sense of justice. But we need to be awake to it through humble prayer and through a willingness to acknowledge one God--one supreme power and creator--in all that we think and do. The Christly truths that come to thought as we listen to spiritual sense teac h us more and more of God's constant care. This gently and steadily increases our trust in Him while it lessens our fear of evil, and we find we are able to have peaceful, natural sleep. Of course, there may be times when we should be awake and alert rather than soundly sleeping. And that can also happen as we trust our spiritual sense, which can be active when we sleep as well as when we are awake. Referring to God, the Bible promises, ``He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.'' 5 We can learn to be receptive to God's direction, even when asleep. The Bible has examples of this watchful protection. For example, Joseph was wakened from sleep by an ``angel of the Lord,'' which told him to take Mary and the infant Jesus into Egypt, where they would be safe from Herod's murderous plans.6 God's watchful angels are still present today, and spiritual sense is receptive to them. Several years ago I was wakened in the middle of the night while someone was trying to break into our house. I felt no fear, but quickly thought to flash a light on, and the would-be thief dashed off. Does skill with guns or in martial arts give one a quiet sense of God's protecting presence and power? Does it develop confidence in God's care? Or might it in a subtle way increase our fear? Through active and pure spiritual sense we can feel safe and be safe when we sleep. We know God is guarding us when through spiritual wisdom and understanding we yield to the gentle truth that He is All and that man is His perfect likeness. 1 Proverbs 3:24, 26. 2 See Proverbs 3:13. 3 Ezekiel 7:23. 4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 505. 5 Psalms 121:4. 6 See Matthew 2:13-15.{et

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