“Granna, look at this snail!”
My grandson squatted over the edge of our backyard slide. I bent hoping to see around him, but he blocked my view. Finally, he straightened and thrust his hand toward my face, eager for me to share his enthusiasm. A black, slimy snail stretched long across the palm of his hand.
“Oh…wow…that’s…um…something, isn’t it!” I grasped for honest words that wouldn’t dampen his joy. Gently reaching for his arm, I lowered it from my face and to the playset where we knelt. “Let’s see if he can crawl up the slide.”
Thankfully, the idea appealed, and Braden set the snail down onto the plastic.
I smiled and sighed.
What a glorious morning we had shared. Spring was erupting in brilliant green all around us, and creatures were coming out to rollick in the sunshine. For a long while before stepping out, we had stood at the kitchen window watching the antics of a squirrel who was feasting on pinecones in the yard. His quick, spastic movements as he nibbled a cone, tossed it aside, then jumped to the next one made us laugh out loud.
Ah, if only every day could be this way.
Interrupting my thoughts, my grandson tugged on my arm. “I’m hungry.”
“We’ll eat lunch soon, sweetie. Papa will be back from the store in a few minutes, and we will eat with him.”
“I want to eat now!”
“We just had a snack a little bit ago, remember?”
“But I want to eat now!”
“I know. We will eat soon. Let’s go jump on the trampoline.”
“Okay, but I’m not taking my shoes off.”
I paused. Nope, not worth it. Once my grandson entered the nap-time zone, there were simply no easy exits until he’d had a good rest.
“That’s fine,” I said. “But I will take my shoes off though, because that would surely hurt if I accidentally stepped on your fingers when I was jumping.”
“You are not going to jump. You are going to sit in the middle.”
I paused again. Mmmm. “I will sit in the middle.” I tousled his hair and leaned down with a smile. “Remember, after lunch we will read a story, and then it’ll be nap time.”
He burst into tears and words exploded from deep within, “I don’t need a nap! I’m not sleepy!”
Getting our four-year-old grandson to take a nap is quite a feat. He spent two weeks with us when COVID-19 first broke out in our local area eons ago. (Okay, it’s only been five weeks but let’s not overlook this one fact, beloved, that during a pandemic one day is as a thousand years.) During his stay, nap time became a daily battle. I quickly learned it was a battle worth fighting. But I also learned a lot about myself and how I act when the Lord calls me to rest in Him.
- The more we kick and scream about resting, the more we likely need it. Like most well-meaning grannas, I wanted to believe my grandson when he said he didn’t need a nap. Call me gullible if you want, but I figured that if he had that much energy to kick and stomp and resist, then maybe he really could make it to bedtime. On the second day of his stay, I relented. Boy, was I sorry. I find the same is true when it comes to resting in the Lord. I can convince myself that all is well, that I really don’t need to stop my labors and rest. I find myself picking up the very things He’s asked me to entrust into His care and fretfully laboring to get the desired results.
- Bouncing around when it’s time to rest doesn’t count. Many a day during nap time I’d walk by the guest bedroom and see my grandson bouncing across the bed. He’d be stifling yawns or struggling to lift his eyelids, but bouncing all the same. He’d smile up at me as if to say, “See, I’m awake; I don’t need sleep.” In the same way, I often find myself in a place of rest where the Lord has hemmed me in, halting certain activities. But my restless, impatient heart will still find something to do, to prove that I can still do some things while I rest.
- Pretending to sleep doesn’t count either. My grandson hasn’t yet learned that eyelids wrinkled closed and a scrunched-up nose are telltale signs that he’s still awake. To be honest, I’m also pretty good at pretending to rest in the Lord. I may have my prayer journal in front of me and my Bible spread across my lap, but the Lord knows my racing thoughts.
- Halfway through his stay, I discovered that my grandson would fall asleep faster if I sat in the doorway. We are always under the watchful care of our heavenly Father. But do we act like it? I need to stop and know His gaze. Hear Him say once more: Come to Me. Cease your labors. Be still. Rest.
- After a good nap, he’s absolutely delightful to be around. That was the solitary thing that made nap-time battles worth fighting. Without a nap, we might as well surrender the rest of the day. He’d throw every ounce of his pint-sized body into the most trivial of arguments and boss us all around, including the dog. Who am I too complain though? I’m no different. When I refuse to rest in the Lord, I tend to act like I can boss Him. I get impatient when a need seems to go unnoticed by Him. I demand quick answers when He bids me to wait quietly on Him.
- Consistently resting teaches us to truly quiet ourselves before Him. When our grandson finally figured out that Papa and Granna really meant it when they said he was going to take a nap each day, he stopped fighting it. I have this adorable video that I captured two days before we took him home. In his perfectly distinct Southern accent he says, “I’m tarred. I wanna go to sleep. I wanna take a nap.” In the same way, when I’m in a groove of taking my needs to the Lord and waiting on Him, I actually look forward to resting in Him. With practice, it becomes so much easier to recognize when I need to cease my labors and admit, “Lord, I am weary. I just need to rest in You.”
Jesus invites His followers, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV).”
His yoke is easy. His burden is light. When we find ourselves buckling under a load of anxiety, He wants us to come to Him and learn from Him. He promises that when we allow Him to teach us, we will find rest for our souls. Just like nap time is often a battle, it’s not easy to enter into His rest. Ironically, some of the hardest work we will do as believers is the labor required to enter His rest. (See Hebrews 4.)
What labors do you need to cease today? What are some anxieties and fears that the Lord has asked you to entrust into His care, but you find yourself fretting over yet again? Take a few deep breaths, rest your weary bones, and let this song be a lullaby that quiets your soul and ushers you into His rest.