*This post written some time ago was one of the most popular from my old blog. I’m still rejoicing in salvation!
I’ve experienced Gospel power in bed. If you’re bold enough, read on.
It took me years to get used to sleeping with somebody. I’m a Type A driver, hard-wired to push hard, work late, and sleep little; and beset with a sin of self-love that still lurks within my un-chiseled forty-year-old bod. For reasons unknown to me, except that perhaps God may have designed it for my sanctification, I am one of the world’s lightest sleepers and, once awakened, wide-eyed for hours. People who sleep hard used to tick me off.
My wife sleeps hard.
My wife unintentionally wakes me up. Things that go bump in the night wake me up. Everything wakes me up! And since I felt I had a divine right to my sleep I would instantly be exasperated whenever I was awakened. The slightest touch could snap me to attention. And, worse, the slightest unintentional touch from my sleeping partner like a cold foot on my calf, an arm dropped over my face in an unconscious embrace, and a knee pressed into my thigh as she curls tightly for long, blissful sleep jarred me into frustrated wakefulness. It irritated me.
I say this to my lasting shame, but one time I turned the light on and woke Jennie up, insisting that she get up with me. I wanted her to feel my pain. I wanted to teach her a lesson. I was ugly about it.
I was being a jerk.
Often I would tell her to move over with an impatient snap. I could be snarky and cutting. Eventually, I grew out of that. The snide remarks, the loud grumbles, and the anger subsided. I knew I was being naughty, but I felt it was understandable. The last person in the world to have any right to talk to me about it was my wife! The last! She, was after all, a hard sleeper. Yet, the indwelling Spirit of God made me uncomfortable with my bad bed behavior. The Spirit would not let me rest either. I worked on it.
But Jesus will save His people from their sins; save them.
My efforts were reforms. My stormy attitude embarrassed me so I decided to get my attitude under control.
But I replaced irritable outbursts with self-pity. I honored myself for being a martyr nearly every night. Here I was, a servant of the most High God (and there are so few of us), quietly loving my wife by not waking her up even though her work wasn’t as important as mine. (Wicked pride). I would endure bad nights of sleep. “Endure hardness,” Paul said, and I was confined to bed with a hard sleeper. I was mad, yes, but what amazing control I had. Or, so I thought. I fumed quietly.
Of course, I knew that God knew. In fact, I prided myself on my transparency with God. I would speak to Him quite frankly. I’d be ticked off at Him. I was like Jonah who felt he had a right to be angry with God just because he served God. Sometimes I’d get out of bed and tell Him straight out that I was going to my office to serve Him through the night because I was awakened, but if He got half-baked work from me the next day it should be noted that I was doing my best with what He had given me. And He had given me a bad night. I loved my wife; but I loved my sleep too. And, well, I loved me.
Pious self-pity. Angry self-love. Inconsiderate pride. Meanness. All in my bed.
But Jesus saves His people from their sins.
My sins were wrecking my time in bed. My nights were haunted by my self-indulgent license to be an irritable jerk. But I never considered it sin. I could not be saved from those sins until I abhorred them as such. Much like some women think their time of the month is license to morph into a vixenish she-devil, I thought I had a grant from heaven to be grouchy and, on occasion, downright nasty when my beloved sleep had been troubled. God’s servants need sleep, you know.
But Jesus saves His people from their sins.
I started praying to God for salvation from my sins. I couldn’t help it, I said to God. The spontaneous response of my soul when awakened was anger. I had no time to prepare. It came without warning, a volcanic eruption of bitter lava. I had previously pretended that my wife should know better. If she cared for me she would see to it that she didn’t roll over in her sleep and throw a leg or arm over me. Certainly if she wanted to be the helpmeet that God had called her to be for this dedicated servant of God she would disarm her heat-seeking sensor equipped feet that rocketed wildly for the warmest part of my body.
But my wife is a hard sleeper. And Jesus saves His people from their sins.
Slowly, slowly, slowly the peace of God started coming under my covers. I claimed the promise of Jesus for His people and told Him often that I was one of His people; certainly He could save me from my sins in the bedroom. And He has. It was a process; but one night it hit me. I had been saved!
One night not too long ago I was awakened in the middle of the night be my wife’s hot breath blowing in my face. She was sound asleep. In her sleep she had turned her face toward me and was literally lying face to face with me with just an inch or so to separate us.
My eyes popped open, just like they always do when I’m awakened. Instantly, my mind was fully awake just as it always is when I wake up. Her breath had roused me. I looked into my wife’s face and the first thing that happened – the FIRST thing – was nothing. I just gazed. In a long, tender moment I just let her hot, pre-morning breath blow right into my face with slumbering rhythm as I studied her mussed up hair, un-made up face, and closed eyelids; and I felt love.
I felt a holy and clean and delightful non-sexual marital love for the hard sleeper who had just woken me up. It washed over me in waves. It drenched me.
Suddenly, my mind did a double take as if shocked by an unusual presence, a midnight stranger. Who was I? Is this the Bob Bixby that I have known for years in this bed with this woman? Didn’t he used to get angry when he was awakened? True, he eventually grew into a more sophisticated irritation, but wouldn’t he normally snap his head around and roll to the far side of the bed and begin an internal conflict with God? True again, there had been progress over the years. Hadn’t he in more recent years subdued his flesh to the point that he would be quickly confessing his self-love to God as he tossed and turned?
Yes, yes, and yes. But this Bob Bixby’s first – FIRST – response was a holy love, a strong feeling, a tender look, and a heart pumping with gratefulness for the woman who exhaled unconsciously into his face! Never had his first response been holy. Never. He always vented anger, or in his best moments rolled over to grumble to God. Always. But this time he found himself not just restraining his sin, not just fighting, not turning and confessing; this time he was positively delighting in his wife!
“Jesus saves His people from their sins!”, I exclaimed.
Then I rejoiced. My thoughts turned to my Savior and I glorified God for His kindness to me. I thanked Him for mercy. I loved Him for giving me far better than I deserved when He gave me my hard-sleeping wife. I worshiped God for the power of the Gospel that can save even the most hardened, self-righteous sinner from the sins of his bedroom. And I did something the old Bob Bixby just never did: I gently laid my arm across her sleeping body and breathed in deeply; I chuckled at the new, silly me that actually enjoyed the moment, and closed my eyes.
And I slept.
Jesus saves His people from their sins.
Friend, do you experience the power of the Gospel? The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. When God promised that Jesus would save His people from their sins, He meant that He would literally deliver you from your sins. Salvation is not just a pass into heaven; it is deliverance from your sins. Your sins.
Don’t you want a Gospel with power?
I don’t want a Gospel that only saves people from sexual addictions and the big social scandals, the ones that most of us try to avoid anyway. In our own power. I want a Gospel that saves people from snarky self-righteousness.
I don’t want a Gospel that looks good in a suit and tie, but is powerless in pajamas. I don’t want a Gospel that merely gives me a pass to heaven, but does not give me a power from heaven to deliver me from my besetting sins. I don’t want a Gospel that is good for pulpiteering, but ineffective for rolling over in bed.
No, I want a Gospel that saves not only the midnight murderer, but the midnight meanie. Because there will be more midnight meanies in hell than murderers. And were it not for God’s grace I would be one of them. I want resurrection power. Gospel power! A power that goes beyond enabling me to restrain my sin, control my anger, and prevent me from the scandalous. Give me, instead, a power that changes me and delivers me from the sins that are private and “understandable,” but are killing me. It may be a “little” sin, but it takes as much of a miracle to resurrect a squirrel as it does to resurrect an elephant. The Gospel of the Bible gives us the power to become a new creature under the sheets.
Christian friend, you never have to lose the joy of your salvation. If you have been saved, you can be saved. If you have sins, He still saves.
Jesus saves His people from their sins.