Sleepless Nights and Restful Repentance

It is a Blessed Thing to Give Up

Mockingbird / 6.4.21

An Excerpt from Daily Grace: The Mockingbird Devotional, Vol. 2, by Amanda McMillen. To order a copy, click here.

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

A few nights a week, I find myself lying in bed, desperate to fall asleep, with a head full of thoughts that won’t let me rest. You know how it goes: There’s the to-do list from the previous day, many un-checked items lingering. There’s the to-do list for tomorrow that goes onto the next page because of aforementioned un-checked items. There’s the replaying of the conversation that could have gone better. There’s the inner critic, who accuses and destroys. Then there’s the realization that you have to get to sleep right now, because if you don’t, then tomorrow is shot too. (This thought always prolongs the whole process, of course.)

And then, sweet rest. It happens to you, certainly not because of you. Your mind surrenders to the need of your body and you finally fall asleep. You wake up the next morning and you don’t remember how or when it happened, but you thank God it did!

Repentance is similar. Repentance has never been a word that I’ve liked. It sounds very fire-and-brimstone-y. I probably wouldn’t use the word when first explaining Christianity to a friend who doesn’t know Jesus.

But repentance is a sweet and restful thing. It is a blessed giving-up. It is the moment when we realize that we cannot carry the load of the law, that our rule-keeping hands of control are not serving us, that the to-do list is crushing, and that we are desperately tired. In repentance, we are simply made aware of the myriad ways that we need a savior.

Thankfully, repentance is Holy-Spirit-induced. I would certainly not give up control if I had my way! Like with sleep, we are brought to the act of surrender. And we are met in this moment, in this giving up of control, with mercy. Through repentance, we find ourselves face-to-face with our compassionate and suffering Savior, the one who lifted that burden from our shoulders and placed it on His own as He carried the heavy cross to the top of that hill. And in exchange, we are given what we are so desperate for: sweet, sweet rest.