Just have a nap already! (He makes me lie down in green pastures…)

Have you ever tried to put a two year old down for a nap?

Maybe this is not your stage of life.
Maybe you’ve been there, done that.
Maybe this is your daily reality.
Maybe you had / have a textbook two year old, or you’re a far better parent than I am, and this process goes smoothly.

Allow me to paint a picture of how this process goes in our household.

Parent: Nap time!
Child: (starts crying and runs in the opposite direction)
Parent: (corrals child and wrestles child into their arms) Do you want me to read a story?
Child: (cries louder)
Parent: (begins to read story) Once upon a time … Oh, I give up. Lie down and go to sleep.

Said child then employs every strategy possible in order to resist, avoid and refuse sleep. Some strategies are obvious, others are just ingenious.

There’s the play cute strategy. The cry until weak-willed parent relents strategy. The I’m really excited about something that isn’t even there strategy. The I’m going to entertain you with how many words I know strategy. The dirty nappy strategy. The I’m pretending to be asleep and just as you go to leave the room I’m going to spring into life strategy. The lie on your arm so when you move I wake up strategy. And many more.

Sometimes this process can take an hour. One whole hour! 60 minutes of your life that you never get back. When I’m home and this task falls to me I tell myself that it’s nice one-on-one time with my child. But that’s a lie. I lie to myself so as not to be discouraged.

So why do it at all? Partly because it’s nice to have a moment to yourself when said child is eventually asleep. But mostly because it’s actually in the best interest of the child’s physical, mental and emotional health. They require rest. And when they’ve relented and had a good nap they are far more settled, resilient and content with life.

It’s the same for us. We require rest. God instituted an entire day of rest each week. Psalm 23 begins, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” The exhortation of Psalm 46:10 is, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Love invites us to rest.

How many of us set aside a day of rest each week? Not just to nap but to quieten our soul and to be refreshed in communion with God?

“Oh but you don’t know how busy my life is. Rest? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

My wife and I have seven children. I work the equivalent of at least two full-time jobs. I have time, it’s just a question of what I’m willing to prioritise and what I value.

If we’re honest, when it comes to rest and spending time with God we employ strategies like a two-year old being put down for a nap.

There’s the ‘I really have to check facebook’ strategy. The ‘I better see what’s happening in world news’ strategy. The ‘I could never turn off my phone I might miss an important text’ strategy. The ‘I better check my email’ strategy. The ‘I have to sign my kids up to everything or they’ll feel neglected’ strategy. The ‘fill my life with stuff’ strategy. The ‘work is my life’ strategy. And many more.

He makes me lie down in green pastures because I’m unlikely to make the time myself and He knows it’s in the best interest of my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

We live in a manic world constantly interrupted by technology and schedules rather than people and relationship.

The Apple Watch is about to be launched, may I never have one. I don’t wear a normal watch, why would I want something on my wrist that is going to interrupt every moment of every day? The last thing I need is another device in my life.

What I actually need is enough margin in my life such that I allow God to lead me beside quiet waters and refresh my soul.

Whilst my two-year old resists rest, he trusts me implicitly and delights in my presence. And in that may I be more like a two-year old than a busy, distracted adult.

May you seek and accept His invitation to rest. May His goodness and love follow you all the days of your life and may you dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)

Where and when do you find rest and refreshing?
What do you need to do less of and what strategies do you need to employ to ensure that you deliberately rest each week?

2 responses

  1. Roger Parkes

    The last few weeks have been anything but restful. I have been stressed, distracted, restless and irritable. Work has been a nightmare and things at home have not been great either. Most nights I have been waking around 3am and the not sleeping well until the alarm goes off at 5.00am. When I am awake rest is very hard to find.

    With all this going on I have really noticed the lack of rest. Usually I have no trouble sleeping or finding time to relax but this has not been possible recently.

    I really have come to appreciate how important rest is and am looking forward to being able to having some time to rest and recuperate.

  2. David Martin

    This post brings back wonderful memories! Happy toddler wrestling, Aleem 😉 I do set aside time to rest mostly every week. Though I love people, i tend to recharge my batteries alone so I head off on my motorcycle or I go to the beach. In my job I regularly drive long distances and so enjoy much of the time in the car alone & in silence, especially when I’m in an area where the mobile phone connection does not reach 🙂 While driving may not seem like rest as it is an activity, I enjoy it so much it is almost as good as time out for a rest… A couple of weeks ago I was over in WA working with some colleagues on an event with 70 or so folk turning up. My role was to mentor 2 staff through the process of running the event and be the keynote speaker – a fairly intense time. After a wonderful event it was debrief time. My colleagues were looking for a space to debrief afterwards. “How about debriefing in the car so we can nip down to Cape Naturaliste?” I suggested. My colleagues agreed as sitting in a car isn’t much different to sitting chatting in a room. 40 minutes of driving and we covered most of our debrief. 30 minutes walking around the lighthouse station (and we got a sneak peek inside the tower just as they closed up for the day) and everyone had had a wonderful restful interlude. We finished our debrief on the way back to town and everyone went home refreshed. We had done our work, we had effectively debriefed, and we had enjoyed a wonderful part of God’s creation along the way…

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