When Shawna was pregnant with our first child, we had many friends repeat the exact same words to us: “Everything is going to change.” We had been married for almost five years and we had become accustomed to life as DINKs (double income no kids). I would scoff at the comments about the change coming our way, but the change has been larger and more comprehensive than I could ever imagine.
One of the first things that changed with the advent of Deklan into our lives, was our sleep patterns. No longer was sleep a luxury that we could control according to our convenience. We had a little baby in our house that required feeding every three hours and he let us know about it.
During that first month, I was up after his feeding at about 2 a.m. I was tired but he had the hiccups and could not sleep. My sleep habits were in shock. My body cried out for sleep, but there was something within me that kept my body awake. It was something bigger than the physical need for sleep. This was my son and he required care.
As I walked around in the dark, a part of a verse resonated within me. I think it was in a hymn that I grew up singing as a child. Raddling in my head were words, “He does not sleep, nor does he slumber.” Later I looked up this verse in Psalm 121 were it reads, “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
As I reflected, I realized that I had assumed that God’s lack of need for sleep was based on his omnipotence, that he does not need sleep. I thought that his wakeful attentiveness was a part of his awesomeness and power because he is God (or Gawd, as some who like to emphasize his awesomeness say).
That night I was awake for one reason and he had nothing to do with my abilities or my power. It only related to what I felt within me for my son. I had the ability to be awake and tend to his needs because I was deeply loving him, one that was changing me from the inside out. Then I realized that God’s attentive wakefulness is fueled by his love for his people. He is motivated to care for us by his passion for us, not by his inherent power.
The change going on within me was also changing my view of God. I realized that I had been seeing God through is power and assumed that his love was a product of his power. Then I began to reconsider this. Maybe his power was a product of his love. I had the power to care for my son, and subsequently forego sleep in caring for the other three only because I love them in a way that I never knew possible.
Psalm 121 seems to confirm this, although it does not use these exact words:
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
You can read this through the filter of God’s power and therefore see this as a Psalm of God’s power to help his people. From the power perspective, it is about God’s glory and God’s nature. And this is exactly how I had seen God. But the problem with this perspective is that God was simply a distant figure in Heaven, who while awesome and mighty, was simply a tyrant who “deserved my affection and worship.” It was hard for me to see God’s love because I could only see his power.
Power or awesome ability does not necessarily result in love. Something or someone that is great or awesome can be so without love. But God’s greatness and power is one that is defined by love. His love defines his power. God is our help because of his love. He watches over us because of his deep abiding passion for us.
And because we are in need of so much help and watching over, God our Father never gets a break. Is it a 24/7 thing. His love fuels his attentive wakefulness. Wow!