March 19, 2007

Short-Sheeted By Life
Pastor George Van Alstine

Remember when you first found out how to “short-sheetâ€? a bed? Maybe you learned the hard way, by being the target of a group prank at camp when you were a kid. All your cabin-mates were in on it. They tried to look nonchalant as you brushed your teeth and put on your pajamas. Worn out after a full day of activities, you couldn’t wait to climb into your cozy sack. You pulled back the covers and slid your feet down. Your head was already dropping to the pillow when . . . Wait, something’s wrong! I can’t put my head on the pillow because my feet stopped sliding halfway down the bed. Did I suddenly grow taller?

And then your “friendsâ€? couldn’t hold it in any longer. They burst out laughing pointing at Dummy in the short-sheeted bed. You really felt like a fool. Remember?

Great trick. I wonder who first thought of it. Would you believe it comes from the Bible? The prophet Isaiah warned the people of Judah that their attempts to solve their national problems by making clever alliances with the bigger nations around them would not be enough. In the coming time of judgment, they would be mighty uncomfortable,
“For the bed you have made is far too short to lie on; the blankets are too narrow to cover you. ” (Isaiah 28:20)
They would find themselves short-sheeted, and the harsh joke will be on them.

All our attempts to make it on our own in life have the same deficiency—they leave us feeling vulnerable and cold in life’s dark night. We may think we’ve got it all together through our education, career and financial security. We may have a family that seems healthy and fulfilling. Life seems good and getting better all the time.

But it’s often when we’re in bed at night that the doubts creep in. That younger guy at work is really ambitious—seems to have his eye on my job. My wife is really friendly with that new neighbor, the guy who always seems to be jogging by our house. She used to look at me that way. I wonder if that variable mortgage was a good idea, now that interest rates are going up. The bed’s too short; the covers are too narrow. Short-sheeted by life.

All our attempts to make ourselves comfortable and secure without the Lord will leave us feeling short-sheeted. The richest, most powerful, most famous people on earth all lie down in short beds with narrow covers if they try to make it without the Lord.

It’s interesting that in the context of Isaiah’s prophecy, just a few verses away in our Bible, is one of the greatest affirmations of the total security we can have when we build our lives on faith in God:
“See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: ‘One who trusts will not panic.’â€? (Isaiah 28:16)
Several times in the New Testament (first by Jesus himself), this verse is quoted in reference to Jesus Christ whose life, death, and resurrection are the foundation on which believers in him build their lives.

A foundation stone may not seem like a comfortable place to sleep (although it’s most solid when it’s laid on bedrock; bed-rock—get it?) However, the main issue here is not comfort, but safety and security. A sound relationship with God through Jesus is the only sure and solid foundation. Those whose lives rest on him “will not panic,â€? as the inscription on Isaiah’s stone foundation says.

Is your bed too short? Are your covers narrow and flimsy? Give up on your carefully-designed refuges from life. Make your bed on the solid foundation which is more than adequate for your safety and security in any and all circumstances. You’ll be surprised how comfortable the Rock can be.