The Gospel of Naps
In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus declares “The meek shall inherit the Earth” and everyone is like “Okay, got it. Please heal my leprosy.” Later, in Matthew 21, Jesus is like “Remember the Sermon on the Mount? I meant what I said,” and flips tables at a temple. Everyone responds “Woah. You can’t just do that, Jesus. I mean sure we can bless the poor in spirit, but we can’t actually change policy to do it.” Thoughts and prayers, am I right?
A lot happens between Matthew Chapters 5 and 21. Jesus performs miracles, meets people, listens to them, learns their stories. Jesus makes friends and enemies and even gains some disciples. But in Matthew Chapter 14, the son of God does something truly radical. He takes a nap.
Jesus, still reeling from the death of John the Baptist, realizes he needs some alone time. He tries to retreat, but people keep following. There is always one more good deed to be done, after all. Jesus (perhaps reluctantly) greets his followers, and feeds 5,000 with only a few fish and some bread.
And then, he sets a boundary. Jesus leaves his disciples and hikes up the mountainside to pray and sleep. To me, his slumber on the mountainside is perhaps as profound as his sermon on the mountaintop.
Without rest, Jesus might not have had the energy to continue his ministry. Jesus, like many of us, also had a choice to make on that mountainside. He could stay there forever- he’d done so much already, after all. Instead, our Messiah models what it means to step back in order to step up.
Our Christian faith reminds us that self-care is community-care. If you are feeling burnt out, you are not alone. Go up the mountainside. Pray. Nap. And then keep turning tables. Our rest is God-given.
Questions to ponder:
- What are you doing to take care of yourself?
- Where are you stepping back, and where are you stepping up?
- What other stories do you see in the Bible about rest as a spiritual practice?