May 19, 2020
The Holy Work of Napping
SHALA W. GRAHAM
Lee en español
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:2 (NIV)
My heart was racing from exhaustion at the end of the workday. I collapsed into bed at 6 p.m., acutely aware of the many things that demanded my attention — urgent things with unmoving deadlines. I recognized the feeling as my body silently screamed at me. Physically, mentally and emotionally tapped out, the only remedy was a nap, stat!
Sometimes, I find myself in a season where rest seems elusive. I remember lamenting to a colleague about how busy I was all the time. When he returned to his office, he sent me an email with a Scripture. He had noticed the Bible on my desk and felt compelled to encourage and challenge me to rethink how I work.
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2).
Ouch. He barely knew me, but he was right. I had allowed the busyness of life and the worries of this world keep me from resting.
I needed to shift my faith. I needed to claim the promise in this Scripture. God will grant me sleep because He loves me. Rest is a precious gift from God, just like the Sabbath is a gift too often ignored. More importantly, I needed to dispel Satan’s lie that the world somehow rises and falls based on whether or not I do all the things. At its root, my heart was prideful and self-sufficient instead of trusting an all-powerful God who holds the whole world in His hands.
That’s when I realized naps could be my way of balancing out the craziness of life. Naps are holy work. Naps require faith. Naps remind me of Jesus.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus spent much of His time preaching to large crowds. At the end of Chapter 4, Jesus and His disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee in a storm.
“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’” (Mark 4:37-40, ESV)
While the disciples were frantically running around, Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. Jesus knew He needed to rest. So much that He could even sleep right through a storm! The swaying of the boat probably felt like resting in a rocking chair. I would even say Jesus knew there was a storm, but He made the decision to rest.
Too often, I’m like everyone else in the boat. I visibly see the storm of my to-do list raging around me, and so I think napping is irresponsible or unloving to others in my life who need me. In those moments, I think Jesus would ask me the same thing: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Naps are now my jam. Even when deadlines are staring me down, I choose to nap when my body tells me it’s time because I know I’ll be better for it. I’ve learned to be OK with “well done” instead of “perfection.” As I pull the blanket up, I simply ask, “Lord, please love me and grant me sleep!”
Father, I confess to You the times when I try to take Your place as God. Help me remember that You have all things well under control and I can trust You in every season of life, especially in the storms. Help me embrace Your gift of rest because You love me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Genesis 2:2-3, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (ESV)
Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (ESV)
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Inside every woman’s heart is a longing for rest. Discover how your worth isn’t found in your accomplishments but in the love of the One who made you for work and for rest in Glynnis Whitwer’s book, Doing Busy Better. Get your copy here.
For more encouragement, connect with Shala W. Graham on Instagram.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What keeps you from believing you can rest?
We have family naptime in our household. What are your thoughts about naptimes? What can you do differently this week to be intentional about napping or getting a full night of rest?
We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2020 by Shala W. Graham. All rights reserved.