A certain question haunts me over and over again. I’m not certain I have ever heard a valid answer to this question. I also know I’m not the only one who has asked it. It is a query that has stumped some of the best minds God has ever created. The question is simply this: Why do kids hate naps but are made to take them, and adults generally don’t have time for naps but would give large sums of money to be able to take one? I think you’ll agree that this question is one of the largest conundrums of our culture?
Every time I hear a parent say, “Okay, it’s nap time,” I always think to myself, “I wish someone would have the authority to require me to take naps.” I think you, the reader, are engaged now with this article because no one has ever disagreed with that sentiment.
Why are we so tired? Perhaps we work too much. Maybe we play too hard. There are specific life circumstances that cause exhaustion for an extended time. You may have a sleep issue so your body cannot rest well. Some struggle with time management so they are always having to cram at the last minute, and that can be extremely taxing. There are many reasons why someone is tired.
For me, and I can’t be alone in this, I have a hard time saying “no.” There are so many good things with which to be involved (and some meaningless ones), and sometimes I just overcommit. Throw on top of that external pressures to perform in various ways, the uncertainty and worry created by the pandemic, people wondering where their next paycheck is going to come from, and a culture that seemingly argues about everything at the drop of a hat, it becomes more and more clear why we are so tired.
There is also a spiritual component at the foundation of all of this also. Whether it is the spiritual battle raging within you, or the earthly consequences, sin is exhausting. And it is not just a personal problem. The world is tired. So where do we find this rest? Where do we look when circumstances seem insurmountable? It’s so simple, appropriately, and timely. It’s Jesus.
The rest that Jesus brings is so much greater than just a physical rest. It is an emotional and spiritual rest, and he modeled for us how to steal away to take those naps. The rest that Jesus gives is first of all eternal for those to trust in Christ’s work on the cross. The rest that Jesus gives is also for the present, as our focus on Christ begins to help us see the temporal nature of many things we deem essential right now. We begin to loosen our grip on things that bring hurry and heartache and replace them with things that bring life … and that is restful.
I am always reminded of the words of the well-known Christmas song, “O Holy Night.”
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
What are we pining for? Salvation and rest. What is this thrill of hope and rejoicing? It is the realization that salvation and rest are near. What is this new and glorious morn? It is the birth of Christ, our Savior and giver of rest.
What is our response? For many it is indifference. We are content to trudge on through the mire of busyness and stress and the pursuit of our own salvation. For some it is curiosity. We may see that there could be a different way, but we don’t stick around too long and we find ourselves back in the rat race. For others it is rest. We fall on our knees in realization that we are not God and submit ourselves to Jesus. Only there is true rest found.
This Christmas, I invite you to bend the knees of your hearts and minds before Christ. Do you really want to take a nap? Jesus himself said in the book of Matthew that if we come to Him, He will give us rest. It’s the best nap you’ll ever take, and ultimately the only one you’ll need.
Dave Pacheco is the former pastor at Delaware Grace.