I’ve come to appreciate it even more since my plantar fasciitis surgery. I’m talking about sleep. And you don’t need a top-of-the-line Serta mattress or a Sleep Number bed system to profoundly appreciate that statement.
Sleep is the best part of my life now more so than it was just one month ago. In sleep, I get to rest my nearly useless left foot. In sleep, I let my mind go as I mentally fall to pieces in a close-eyed siesta that will compose the best part of my day.
Looming problems and daily concerns are suddenly frozen in time with the rolling over and clutching of my favorite pillow under clean sheets and quilts. In sleep, the restless mind can defrag from the day’s load of life’s awful doses. There, I am in sync with the lazy and indifferent world that continually sleeps, as it cares not for me in day or night. I don’t care for it, either.
But as with all things I enjoy, sleep further serves to reconfirm my atheism. We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. This is yet another sign of a senseless and chaotic universe, one not created by a supreme intelligence. Think about how much of life we miss in sleep. 1/3 of your lifetime is a very long time, quite a number of years when put against the span of life we are accustomed to living. If a man lives to be 90, he will waste roughly 30 years to sleep. If he lives to be 75, he’ll have spent 25 years in a drooling, snoring, lights-out slumber.
If we never slept, we would have so much more time to do so many more things. And from doing these more numerous things, we would be yet wiser, a thing the god of the bible says he desires. But we don’t have this extra time that would enable us to travel the world many times over and see so many new places. In so doing, we would learn about other cultures and perhaps pick up a usable acquaintance or mastery of other languages. We could create whole new chapters in longer lives.
Think for a minute about what it would be like never to tire out, but to be productive for 30 or so more years. You could acquire multiple doctorate degrees. You could try your hand at numerous professions. You could take on productive and possibly lucrative hobbies, like mentoring or gardening. Your resume would be incredibly thick, as would your experience and appreciation of life.
You would learn to save and invest and do a thousand other things you won’t get around to doing with the time you have now. Your vacations would be much more rewarding and would last longer. You would be, quite actually, 1/3 more of the man or woman you are today. I turn 37 soon, and that means I’ve spent over 12 years of my life sleeping. And as much as I love sleep, it is a colossal waste of time.
Had a creating, sensible God existed, we would not be created with the need to sleep. We would be like the mighty shark and other marine animals that cannot stop swimming lest they die. Expending great amounts of energy being productive would be the norm. It would be as natural as the beating heart that never stops until you die.
I remember repeating as a minister what we sang in the hymnal: “Work for the night is coming when we work no more.” “We have all eternity to rest in God’s bosom. Now is the time to bear fruit as laborers for God,” I would say. But the truth is, we would have so much more time had god sensibly designed us to utilize more of it. Why God didn’t give his people 30 more years to build churches and do missionary work abroad? Even believers must admit that if they had 30 more years, so much more good could be done.
“‘Few there be that find the gate to life,’ the Bible says (Matthew 7:13-14), but when God makes true believers, he will do more through those productive souls than a hundred-thousand halfhearted Christians.” That’s a quote from a sermon I preached in 1999. But I didn’t go far enough—how much more productive still would the same believers be if we had that huge, wasted chunk of time we bury in the soft sheets of our beds?
We’ll get no good answers from the faithful. Not now, and not ever.