God Gives While We Sleep!
Saint Francis by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
We're in a woods in springtime and it's grown dark. A tiny slip of moonlight slices the pond. If you look very hard to the left center of the picture you'll start to see the form of a sleeping monk resting against a tree -- no doubt the companion of St. Francis. Now our eyes rest on the focal point of this painting.
St. Francis lies stretched out fully asleep. His face reflects a deep peace with one hand near his heart and the other stretched out as though to receive. Caravaggio has painted one of God's angels bathed in light to attend to St. Francis. The angel fully supports St. Francis keeping his back off the cold ground by cradling him on his lap. The left arm of the angel supports the back and the right hand grasps the monk's belt. The angel is braced to stay this way until St. Francis awakes.
The wonder of this painting is the way the angel is wide awake and studying St. Francis's face. The angel's face is intent, caring and thoughtful. His obvious mission is to sustain and guard St. Francis while he sleeps.
Now this is a promise that God gives to all His children. "He who watches over you will not slumber. The Lord will keep you from all harm -- he will watch over your life." Psalm 121:3b, 7
What a realization to know that our God watches over our whole life and even when we sleep his face studies our own much like a mother delights to watch her child sleep.
St. Francis with his outstretched hand gives us another glimpse of truth. God is at work even when we sleep. How often have you gone to bed with an unsolved problem only to wake up with the solution? If you have experienced that then thank God because He has been strengthening your spirit and giving you insight out of His deep storehouses -- and doing it all while you slept!