Have you ever watched a baby fight sleep? Either as a parent or a babysitter – it’s literally maddening. They’re crying their eyes out, super cranky, and if they’re old enough, yelling at you, “I’M NOT TIRED!” Sure, ok, me either.
It’s so especially frustrating as a parent, because you know what’s best and they JUST WON’T GIVE IN. And you can’t settle because they can’t settle. Last week on vacation I had two days where my little girl fell asleep and napped on me at the beach. And if anything was right in the world, it was that. I could literally feel my body and my mind relax once she finally gave in and slept.
I believe my own lie sometimes that it’s easier for me when my babies sleep. I mean…it is. I can take my own nap or get stuff done or just have some silence, praise the Lord. But when I really thought about it, I know that I am content when they are resting because I know it’s what’s best for them. When they finally stop fighting and give into rest, they’re at peace with no stress, and will wake up rejuvenated and with tons of energy. I mean, a kid after a good nap is basically like a superhero.
I think it’s pretty unfair that as adults we don’t get these kind of naps, but God did give us a gift and a command — to rest.
It’s super reassuring to me that unlike me as a parent, He’s not upset or tense or anxious as our dad – but He knows what’s best. He watches us push through, tough it out, fight giving in and letting Him hold us. When we actually let go of what’s holding us back and rest in His presence, we find peace and restoration. All of our empty places fill back up, and He gives us everything we need.
But just like kids, we don’t want to stop. We don’t want to miss anything that’s happening in front of us, and surely we are much too important to take a break. We are busy, and too much depends on us. We are strong, independent, and important. But God has a different idea of what importance and strength looks like:
“In returning and rest you shall be saved. In quietness and confident trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
I honestly wonder what God thinks of me as I run around, busying myself and wondering why I’m so exhausted. Most of the time I believe He watches and waits, until I finally recognize that only He can truly refuel me and give me what I need.
If God, who is all-encompassing light, energy and power that goes on forever and ever, chose to take a day of rest as an example to us – then we should probably listen. By saying no to rest, we’re missing out. We’re saying a big fat “No, thanks” to one of God’s most empowering gifts. We are an exhausted generation because we don’t grab hold of what God has given us for our benefit.
Rest is so much more than a nap or a good night’s sleep. BUT. Sleep is in the Bible. Don’t count it out. “…For He grants sleep to those He loves” (Psalm 127:2). BAM. Thank you, Jesus! Don’t ignore what your body needs. However, it is more than a physical choice to lay down. Rest is a heart posture. It’s a position of your soul. It’s surrender and trust and obedience. It’s a reminder to shift the control over to the One who’s ways are perfect and always right.
Where are you busy? Is it your schedule? Are you reading this and thinking, “There is absolutely no way I could find the time”? Maybe trying to carve out a whole day of rest seems impossible to you. Find an hour. Create 20 minutes. Spend time with Him. Go on a walk. Journal. Eat a great meal and enjoy it without checking your email. Be with your family. What is life-giving to you that reminds you to put God first?
Maybe you’re able to find the physical time to rest, but your mind is busy. You worry and plan and even when your body is still, your thoughts never settle. Your soul is not at rest. It may not be about time for you, so you need to come to God with your heart at rest. To be reminded that He is not looking for performance or credentials to be proud: He has already accepted you. He longs for you to allow Him to comfort and fill you with everything you are lacking. He’s waiting to simply do His job as your dad.
Our God, the Good Shepherd, knows us all too well. He knows that we are busy and we fight and we think we can just handle it all. So David reminds us in Psalm 23 that “He makes [us] lie down.” He makes us because He knows us. He’s the Good Shepherd and He’s a Good Father, and when we don’t take the first step to rest, He’ll pick us up and make us.
So let’s let Him.
Let’s stop fighting something He’s designed us for, and find our strength and our restoration in Him.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Matthew 11:28-29