Tim, the Sleep-Talker
I’m a somniloquist, one who regularly experiences somniloquy. Simply put: I talk in my sleep. Gayline, my dear long-suffering wife of nearly 43 years, has had to listen to me talk nearly every day of her adult life; and she doesn’t even catch a break at night. Apparently, I just don’t stop.
A somewhat unusual feature of my somniloquitous ramblings is that often they are not ramblings at all. They’re mini-sermons. Yes—by Gayline’s report—I often preach in my sleep, offering each time what you might call a spiritual somniloquy soliloquy. To prove her claim, she has recorded me more than once, which has provided me with the more-than-a-little-strange experience of hearing myself preaching while sleeping.
To keep anyone from putting too spiritual of a spin on my nocturnal homilies, I doubt seriously that they have much unique spiritual significance at all. It’s not like I’m so in tune with God that I just have to preach, even in my dreams! My guess is that spouses of math teacher somniloquists are awakened by the sound of night-time integers and equations coming from across the bed. I assume, too, that those married to lawyer somniloquists hear a lot of 2:30am Whereases, objections, and allegations. I speculate that sleep-talkers tend to talk about what they normally talk about when they’re awake. And since my calling for the past 40+ years has been to study and preach the Word, it shouldn’t surprise that I let out some occasional nocturnal homiletical outbursts.
Preaching Election while Sleeping
That said, I am a bit heartened that, according to Gayline, my night-time preaching usually is of the encouraging variety. She tells me that this week’s message included several clear and coherent sentences warmly offered as encouragement to my audience. But it’s last week’s REM-state delivery—complete with affecting pauses and apparent earnestness and care—to which I want to invite your attention. Here’s how it went:
“You were chosen. (Here I paused, apparently to let it sink in)
You were chosen. (Here I paused again, to let it sink in)
You were chosen before the foundation of the world. (Here I paused still again, to let it sink in)
You were chosen (slight pause)
In the beloved.”
And so ended the non-mumbling portion my middle-of-the-night-in-my-sleep sermon—completed almost as quickly as it started. It was by far my shortest sermon ever, but I am quite sure, not my worst (though it was extremely bad preaching form for me not to reference and read my text: Ephesians 1:4-6).
I wonder what prompted my preaching of that text in my midsummer night REM-state homily. What was the condition of my dream-world flock? What were their circumstances or trials or needs or insecurities or perils? I do not know. Yet I will say what I have often said: So long as I know two things, I’m good to go and can face anything. First, that God is the universe’s all-powerful sovereign. And second, that this sovereign God who is all-powerful loves me and is on my side. I need to know that God is sufficiently sovereign to do all his holy will, anywhere, and all the time (that is, that he actually and truly is God), and I need to know that he is for me. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard that my sleep-talking sermon communicated both.
That I am chosen in love and in the Beloved One, assures me that both those realities are true. It tells me that a sovereign and almighty God who chooses however and whomever he wants, and can do whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3; Ephesians 1:11) has been pleased in love to choose me to make me his own. This is a truth that secures me no matter what; which is a very good thing. For the fact is that I’ve had a lot of “no matter what” in my life.
For that matter, there’s been a lot of “no matter what” in all of our lives lately, hasn’t there? 2020 is the year of life-stressing and soul-distressing no matter whats. A pandemic. A quarantine. Confusing and contradictory information (or is it dis-information?). An ugly political season. An ongoing and escalating awareness of racial tensions rooted in centuries of ignorance and injustice. And all this on top of the never-ending normal stuff that can make life hard.
It would do us all well to remember that in this pandemic-affected, justice-challenged, and politically-uglified American election year, there is only one election that matters supremely: our election by a sovereign God who loves us forever. That we are chosen by God to be everlastingly his is the only ultimate need we have and comfort we need. Everything else is sub-ultimate. In this alone, there is sufficient reason to make sure that we are among the chosen (2 Peter 1:10), and then make sure that we are basking in the knowledge that, having been chosen by him, there is absolutely nothing that can undo what his sovereign love has done (Romans 8:31-39).
I realize that there may be those who find the promise of God’s love too good to be true; an unreal fantastical dream that doubt or fear or sin or guilt dissipates at the crack of dawn. The real world to which some awaken each morning—full, as it is of their checkered history and chronic heartache—makes some feel that God’s love is but a dream-world, devoid of reality. For such, there is no greater need than to revisit the Place where electing and redeeming love both met and kissed, where Love lived even as Christ died.
If you need assurance that God loves you, that you really matter to him, that you are cherished by the Father and precious to the Son, then consider the Cross where his love was demonstrated (Romans 5:8) and made known (1 John 4:9-10). There—and in the tomb soon after made empty—is unshakable proof that God is sovereign, and that, with a love besides which all other loves pale, he is on your side.
Fellow believer: that he has chosen us who are inconsequential in the world’s eyes and guilty before his Law is supremely amazing and comforting. Yet chosen we are. Chosen by a sovereign invincible will. Chosen to be his. Chosen in love. Chosen in love by One who knows all the bad about us that there is to know. Chosen, never to be rejected or forsaken. Chosen before time. Chosen beyond time. Chosen for forever.
This is more than a dream-world somniloquy soliloquy.
It. Is. Life.
And it is God’s all-powerful love-brimmed promise, intended to keep us sane and secure while the insanity continues to close in all around.