Little kids hate to take naps.
They see naps as a loss, a separation from good times. But let a toddler skip a nap and the good times disappear.
So what is a parent to do?
You make them rest anyway.
In the early years, a daily cycle of rest is an important part of the day. It’s a time to unplug from stimulating surroundings and distractions and regroup. It’s a time to let the body rest. And since the brain consolidates information in our sleep, it’s even a time to learn.
While one of my kids eventually accepted the reality of naps, one resisted all forms of daytime sleep even as an infant. I made him take breaks and rest anyway. I couldn’t make him sleep, but I could move him from busy activity into a peaceful environment for a short period of time. It was a restoring time we both needed.
This is what I think of when I read Psalm 23.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. (v. 1-3a)
The LORD is my shepherd.
He makes me lie down.
He makes me rest.
Let’s face it. Taking time out to rest doesn’t come any easier to adults than it does for toddlers. Our excuses are different, but our resistance is the same.
In our culture that prizes productivity, rest can seem like a luxury or a waste of precious time. Life is busy. We are needed. There is too much to do.
We need someone to make us rest.
We need a Shepherd.
We need to follow Him to a quiet place.
We need a loving Father to make us lie down.
We need rest for our bodies and rest for our souls.
We need to be restored.
Rest isn’t a one time thing. You can’t store up rest for later.
Rest is a daily need.
We need time with the Father daily to regroup, process, and learn. Every day we need to be restored, or returned to a point of departure. We need to return to trust in God to meet our needs instead of frantically trying to make ends meet on our own.
And when we have rested, when we are restored to trust, we can follow God, our good Shepherd, through anything.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (v. 3b-4)
My son still says, “Naps are for the weak.”
But I’ve learned that true rest keeps me strong.
Father, thank you for showing me my need for rest, for making me lie down, for restoring my soul. Thank you for providing for all of my needs. You are a good Shepherd. I want to follow you. Thank you that because You are with me, I do not have to be afraid of what today holds. Amen.