At one time our middle son lived on Laurel Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, three blocks from Summit Avenue’s historic homes. We once took a walking tour and learned more about some of these works of Art. For some time, I have wanted to do an Ink with Pen and Brush of the William W. Bishop’s Queen Ann style house built in 1887. I actually did it last week.
I choose it for our topic, ‘Sleep’ this week because I like the architecture and can only imagine what it would be like to spend a few nights there should it ever become a Bed & Breakfast—that’s not likely!—and wonder what one might hear ‘if walls could talk”. I enjoy old buildings and their stories.
“How did you sleep last night?” That’s a question often asked as Marj and I enjoy breakfast together. Mostly our answers are pretty positive: “Good, how about you?”
Here’s a question: What if you went to sleep tonight and did not wake up for 20 years? That’s 7,300 days and nights without ever waking up. For example, if you live to age 60, and average sleeping 8 hrs. per 24, you will have spent 20 years sleeping—1/3 of your life. Why is this so important?
One unique characteristic of being created human is that God breathed into mankind something unique: God breathed into us ‘spirit’, a characteristic that is a unique part of being created in the image of God. We have a physical body, but we are more than our physical body. We are eternal, our current physical body is not.
As a follower of Jesus, I like to think of my physical body as the temporary dwelling for my ‘spirit’ along with God’s Holy Spirit. My physical body is a wonderfully equipped physical vehicle (or tool) prepared for service in God’s Kingdom today. Part of my responsibility is to be a good custodian or steward of my physical body. I am to take care of it, nurture it and in general keep it ready for its primary service. It is the physical channel for God’s love to flow through the work of my ‘spirit’, via my physical body, to creation. This allows the glory of God to be seen by all.
Part of that custodianship of my physical body is to provide adequate ‘sleep’. How much is ‘adequate’? According to the Sleep Foundation.org, latest research suggests these amounts per day:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School age children: 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
Some may come to the erroneous conclusion that those 20 years or so of sleep is wasted time. Not so! Sleep is an active state. Scientists used to think that everything shuts down when we sleep. But over the last 60, years scientists have discovered that our brains are very active while we sleep. In fact, some parts of the brain use more oxygen and glucose while asleep than when awake.
God had a purpose in creating sleep. Sleep is like taking your car in for a regularly scheduled tune up. Repairs to our immune system and much more can take place while we are sleeping. God gave us a mission in this world, and He gave us a tool—our physical bodies—to carry out that mission. I’m reminded of the flight attendant announcement: “If you are flying with young children and the oxygen mask falls down, place it on yourself first then the child.” In other words, to effectively help others, your first have to be healthy yourself.
Getting adequate sleep for your body is part of God’s plan for our bodies to be healthy for service. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices [tools], holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world [sleepless pursuit of ‘stuff’] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:1-2a
Historic homes on Summit Avenue are beautiful works of Art having housed families for generations. But, followers of Jesus bodies are the wonderful home of the Holy Spirit’ lovingly working through them in the world today. “For we are God’s workmanship [Art], created in Christ Jesus to do good works; which God prepared in advance for us to do,” Ephesians 2:10, King David expressed in the Psalms: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
“I lie down in sleep; I awake again because the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:5
Get your sleep!
 For more information & photos of Summit Avenue homes: Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District, Karen Melvin, 2013