Saturday, March 23, 2013

Into Thy Hands

Perhaps it's a prayer you heard as a child, one which was recited at bedtime.  Imagine a child in his pajamas, kneeling beside his bed, eyes closed, head bowed and enunciating the prayer with a precious childlike voice.  There are several versions of it listed on the Internet, but a simple version reads:

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen"

Such innocence and beauty is revealed as the little one says his bedtime prayer and rests peacefully in the arms of the Heavenly Father.  Afterwards, the glow of the moon penetrates the bedroom window as a divine nightlight.  The child is safe and secure in his bed.  No worries.  No concerns.  Simply warmth and happiness in God's presence.

I heard a pastor say that Jesus also uttered a bedtime prayer in the most unusual of places...the cross.  After the unspeakable horrors and agony of being crucified, Luke 23:46 records, "And, Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.'  And having said this, He breathed His last."

Where did Jesus learn the phrase, "Into Thy hands I commit my spirit"?  Psalms 31:5.  Apparently, the Jews said this phrase before they went to sleep at night.  It was their version of "now I lay me down to sleep."  Again, no worries, no concerns.  They slept peacefully in the arms of the Almighty.

How fitting for Jesus to use this phrase on the cross.  The crucifixion was complete.  His sacrifice for mankind had been accomplished.  There would be no more mental or physical agony for Him.  It was finished!!  Hence, He could commit His spirit to the Father in this divine act.  As the little child who sleeps upon his bed, Jesus could now rest in the Father's hand.

We, too, can rest in the Father's hand at the end of the day, or even at the end of life.  Resting in Him, trusting in Him, that whatever happens, He is watching over us.  Such peace.  Such joy.

Perhaps, our bedtime prayer should be:

"Father, thank you for bringing me through another day. Even though there may have been trials and difficulties, I can rest completely in You.   In your presence is fullness of joy.  So, as I go to sleep, into Thy hands, I commit my spirit.  Amen."

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