Do you like naps?
When I was growing up, I NEVER liked taking naps. I can vividly remember my mom trying to make me lie down in the afternoon for a while. I remember her telling me it was a good idea to take a nap so I wouldn't be tired.
I was never tired.
Years later, I finally realized the truth.
SHE was tired – very, very tired!
Sometimes she would try to lie down next to me, to encourage me to nod off. Never worked. And she didn't get to nod off either. Evidently I had a strong penchant for tossing one of my legs over her back…and over…and over.
Poor dear Mom.
God has a sense of humor, and years later Mom got some humorous revenge. Because, you see, neither one of my boys were good sleepers either.
Oldest never slept through the night until he was more than two years old – (yes, years – not weeks, or months).
And by the time he was nine months old, he was only down at night for a total of 10 (interrupted) hours, and one 45-minute catnap in the afternoon.
Yes, we bonded a lot – because he was always around!!
I thought that I might have better luck with my second son.
Well, evidently he thought he needed to *copy* his big brother in everything – he didn't sleep any better. In fact, I’m not sure he ever napped – he didn't want to miss any action!
And he walked (ran) at 10 months old, too.
Poor dear Mom (me).
I was tired – very, very tired.
So, have I ever grown to like naps?
Yes, but I rarely take them. Why, you might ask? Because if I take a nap, then I can't fall asleep at night. Grrr. But I do usually put my feet up in the afternoon, and take a little time to relax. A Sharon Siesta.
Time to rest.
The Bible makes it really clear that rest is important.
How do I know this?
Because Jesus set a good example. He often went off by Himself. I know He probably spent most of that time in prayer. But I'll just bet that He did some snoozing, too.
Can you even imagine how tired He must have gotten sometimes?
All those people following Him around, demanding His time and attention and healing. Then He had to be mentally sharp, intellectually on task, to be able to teach and guide in wisdom. Not to mention having those rather entertaining debates that He had with the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day.
I'm sure that Jesus got physically tired, too – He did an awful lot of walking.
So, Jesus rested.
And He invites us to do the same.
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
Now I know that Jesus thinks it's very important to have mental and physical rest. But, I think in this verse He's talking about our "inside stuff" – the spiritual rest we so desperately need.
How do we find rest for our spirits?
A lot of people who don't follow Jesus find other ways to calm their inner storms. A lot of illicit activity is driven by the deep desire to escape pain and boredom, and the basic world-weariness that plagues us all.
But how does a follower find rest?
I think it's very important to have a daily quiet time with the Lord. I know it's hard to do. I've only developed the discipline of it in the last three years. But, it's been well worth my effort.
I think prayer is crucial to a restful spirit. I'm not as good with that discipline. I talk to God a lot – but I really desire to have a more vital prayer life. Because praying helps me calm down.
Unloading my burdens in prayer brings me peace.
I find church restful, and Bible Study – even reading Christian books, both fiction and nonfiction – are great ways for me to rest and relax.
But, there is one thing that brings spiritual rest to me like nothing else. And that is the great outdoors. I love nature, and I never feel quite as close to God as I do when I spend time in His creation.
Fresh mountain air.
Salty waves at the beach.
Green, tree-filled hikes.
A glowing, crackling campfire.
Miles of empty spaces in the desert.
Snow on my nose.
A warm wind in my hair.
Wildlife, in all its untamed glory.
These are the things that set my spirit soaring – and bring deep spiritual rest to my soul.
So, let me emphasize again the importance of spiritual rest. Let me encourage you to seek time apart, time away, to relax. Let me challenge you to follow the example of Jesus – and develop the wisdom of self-care.
But most of all, let me urge you to turn to Him – our loving and merciful Yoke-Bearer. For true rest cannot be found without Him.
He brings the rest our spirits need – the rest that our spirits crave.
The rest that only a soul saved by grace can ever feel.
Total rest – in this life and the next – at peace with God.
Do you like/take naps? How do you find spiritual rest for your soul?
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