Sleep deprivation will do a lot to cure Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I used to wonder if I would have time to make it to the hair salon before I made a speaking trip. Now I wonder if I will have time to comb my hair. Sleep deprivation makes you sleep like a baby when you are on a plane and you don’t even notice when they come by with the Delta cookies, much less think about missing out on what used to be your favorite treat in the air. You lose your inhibitions about falling asleep with your mouth open and your fear of falling over on a stranger’s shoulder while on the plane. You don’t put on make-up before you leave the rehab for Walmart to pick up the essential rehab supplies, and, if you can’t find your glasses, you skip them, too. You don’t even worry about whether or not you have the money to purchase the supplies as long as someone in the zombie party brought some along. (You’ll just work all that out later.) Meals are irregular, when existent, and routine-chuckle-one-liners are suddenly hilarious. Your verbal vocabulary just goes away (see… I’m sure there’s at least an eight-letter-word for “goes away”), particularly if you are conversing with the cardiologist. Every other day starts to be more like it for daily routines like showering and you fall asleep if you get a moment to pray.
The toughest part for me has been the weekend speaking trips. Last weekend I had six speeches and four Q and A sessions in Washington, DC. This weekend is somewhere near Jacksonville, FL. Between the two weekends I’ll get about 20 hours total at home and about 12 hours total in a bed. Now, I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am actually feeling awe at the blessings that have come my father’s way in the last few days. I enumerated some of those in a recent post. If “deprived” is a word you use with “sleep” (and you’re still typing) and not with “love” or “grace” or even “nutrition,” life is still going your way. Things are good.
But still, you lose things, stop mid-sentence without a clue of how to continue, cry when you drop something and start to think about crawling in the hospital bed while your dad is gone to therapy for 20 minutes. So I got off the plane after a long nap at Reagan in DC last Friday. I looked around. I could see the Washington monument and the luggage cart, but not the terminal. I was on a jet parking lot and not a jet bridge. It seemed like almost everyone was getting on a big bus. So I did, too. I had a big backpack and a heavy carry-on, so I made my way to the very back where there was a bit of extra room and sat down, hoping for a ride that was long enough to catch another cat nap. But when I got situated, I started thinking about how I missed the take-off, the cookies, and the gate connections announcements. I had not looked at the terminal map. Why, I practically missed the whole flight! What if I should be going the other direction with the few people who did NOT get on this bus. What if I have made the wrong choice? Now I am all the way in the back seat and it’s going to be really hard to get back on track. Not only that, but it is going to be really embarrassing if I have to start asking those people–who have already probably seen me sleeping with my mouth open–where this bus is headed.
Thankfully, I was on the right bus to the right terminal. But, as I sat there, I had to stop and think about how this is exactly what we do spiritually. Sometimes we’ve just spent a lot of time being oblivious to the directions. We haven’t examined the map and we haven’t listened to the divine Instructions (Romans 10:17). We’ve been spiritually asleep (Ephesians 5:13,14). Then when it’s time to make a big life choice, at the point of decision, we just follow the crowd (Exodus 23:2). Then we get comfortable on the wrong bus as we head toward the wrong eternal terminal (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Too comfortable for change and too embarrassed to ask the way, we continue along and the wrong destination approaches all too quickly (Luke 13:23-30).
The above analogy probably just seems like a good one to me, as I am lying here on a cot in room 330 at the rehabilitation center. It’s likely the product of an overly analytical, yet feeble mind that’s templed in an extremely weary body. Or maybe I should just be getting some therapy on another ward. Whether it’s a great analogy or not, though, it is a great life lesson:
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)