Jan Johnson
Jan Johnson

WisBits Archive

February 2008

Waking and Going-to-Sleep Pictures

I was asked to suggest more ideas for what I call a “waking image or going-to-sleep image.” First, what are they? I described this process in Savoring Gods Word (page 141 if you have it): “When you first wake up in the morning, does your mind begin to race with what you need to do? Or maybe you ooze into the day slowly? Either way, you can choose an image from Scripture to use as a waking image to sit in.” I got this idea from reading the biography of Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators, whose phrase “His words, last words” meant that the last words he said anyone before going to sleep were words of Scripture. (I read it a long time ago - let’s hope I got that right.) I modified this idea to “God’s thought, my thought” or “God’s picture, my picture” to be the last thing I think of before going to sleep. Because I’m not a morning person, I found I also needed an image that helped me wake up - the first thing that comes to mind upon waking. (That takes some practice, but it’s worth it.)

So here are some ideas. What will work best for you, however, is what comes out of your own meditation on Scripture - the pictures that the Holy Spirit makes especially real to you. Start looking for them. In the meantime, try these for either time.

Zephaniah 3:17 (God singing over you and delighting in you). See yourself sitting on the lap of God. Some mornings, perhaps after a wild dream, you may picture God rocking you to soothe you. On an event-filled day, you may see yourself as a gangly teenager on the lap of God, struggling to run around and get going, but God holding you gently, “quieting you with his love.”

Luke 15:5 The shepherd (Jesus) hoisting you, the formerly lost and desperate sheep, on his shoulders and cheerfully carrying you home. You may want to add verse 6: the joyful party afterward.

Mark 7:33 Jesus putting his hands on your face, cradling your jaw and healing all that has disrupted your hearing (especially from him). Some who use this image also put their hands on their jaws so they can rest in the image more easily.

Song of Songs 2:6; 8:3: God asking you, Shall we dance today? (waking image)

John 13:23 John “reclining next to Jesus” at the last supper. (going-to-sleep image)

Psalm 23:2 The sheep lying down in green pasture because he is so satisfied and content, feeling perfectly safe from attackers. (going-to-sleep image)

Mary Anne Quinn who participated in my recent meditation and contemplation retreat in the Chicago area suggested this waking image—Jesus interceding for us about this upcoming day (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34)—and these going-to-sleep words: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). When she woke up later and couldn’t get back to sleep, she stilled herself by saying “Come to me” and alternating the emphasis: Come to me . . . come to me . . . come to me.

If these ideas sound silly to you, consider that they help us “meditate day and night” on God so that “even at night my heart instructs me.” We find that “at night his song is with me-- a prayer to the God of my life” (Psalm 1:2; 16:7; 42:8; see also 63:6; 77:6; 92:2; 119:55, 148). This becomes one more way we grow to have the mind of Christ here and now everyday.

Grace and peace,
Jan Johnson

 

 

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