Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sleep vs. Prayer: Strange fire and Phinehas

The battle is still ongoing. Waiting for a breakthrough.

This morning I did not get up but slept until 8. It was partly a lack of guarding my bedtime the night before (first coffee in the evening, then WordReference forums until after 1:00 in the morning) and partly a lack of applying the gospel to myself and partly a lack of supreme love for my Savior that would trump sleep...oh, who can count all the factors? It is too complex for me to understand.

We had a good message today, The Man Without Mixture, and in it Eric preached the gospel. It was the gospel, and I was sitting there recognizing I needed it, but I couldn't grasp it. It eluded my comprehension.

In the message, he made a comparison with strange fire. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire and died before the Lord. My life is the temple of God; there ought to be no strange fire offered in this temple, either. I wrote in my kindle on Lev. 10:2, "In the temple of our bodies, we are not to offer strange fire, either. The fire of the Holy Spirit shall not have mixture with the fires sourced from the flesh. Let us not let the fire of the Holy Spirit go out--but if it does go out, we can't just get fire from anywhere; we must get the fire that descends from heaven. Let me get on my face before God and be an altar ready to receive the all-consuming fire until it comes. O, God, come down and ignite me."

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart...
My heart an altar, and thy love the flame. 

Eric spoke about Phinehas, who carried out a ruthless act of vengeance against the "strange fire" and the "mixture" in the camp of Israel, and it was counted to him for righteousness through all generations (Num. 25:6-15, Psa. 106:30-31). I knew I needed to take a similar decisive action against the flesh, thrusting a javelin as it were through this part (sleep) that flaunts the commandment of God.

I thought, "What does giving up sleep feel like? It feels like dying." It really does feel like I'm dying. Am I not willing to die?

I came home and ate lunch and felt pressed to "be afflicted, and mourn, and weep." After lunch, at about 2:30, I set myself to seek the Lord. I went to the prayer closet in the basement. I reviewed the gospel. I quoted Romans 6 to myself, and part of Romans 7 and 8.

I fell asleep.

I walked upstairs to my bed and slept until about 6:00. Even in my sleep, I was feebly begging God to help me, while at the same time I had no intention of relinquishing my nap until I had slept my fill. I saw in my sleep a mountain, and I said to the Lord, "Conquer this territory in my soul."

I woke up, sleep-saturated, and the Lord reproached me. It is harder, not easier, for Him to get glory now, because whereas before a victory would have been in the face of overpowering sleepiness, now there would be no evidence visible to myself and palpable to tell others that I had broken through. I had not woken up because of a breakthrough, I woke up because I had slept my fill.

Where is any strength to fight this beast that has captured my life so completely?

Where is any will to will anything opposed to indulging in sweet sleep?

Where is my love to Christ that will trump this once and for all?

How do I wield the gospel? How do I die? How do I thrust a javelin into sleep?

Sleep is such a tricky one because I can't fast from it completely; I can't just cut it out like I did with sugar. So it requires a discerning judgment between good and evil to even know how to decapitate the monster that is hiding behind one of God's good gifts.

Here is my heart. I bare the altar to thy all-consuming flame. Burn up this inordinate love, Lord Jesus, and let my heart burn only with love for Thee. Come quickly, before this false love has another chance to exert itself.

Can I prevail upon Thee to send this fire?

It's so far from being an unblemished sacrifice.

Cleanse me, purify me, purge out this rottenness; strip me of all fleshly indulgence. I don't care if it hurts; it must go. Be my Phinehas. Come, my High Priest and King. Come and have mercy upon me and do this work. I plead your lovingkindness, not my merit. What must I do to be saved from the body of this death?

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