Wednesday, 14 January 2015
The God Who Takes Naps
Are you weary? Me too. Because we’re often weary and faint, we need a God who never sleeps. We need him to keep watch while we sleep.
That was the first “so what” we looked at in the last post. The second “so what” flows from the first one: God doesn’t just watch, he gives. Because God is great, he has power to give away. Because God is good, he gives power to us.
That’s good news to the weary. We push ourselves, working up to the limits of our energy–even past them–and then fall into bed. We want rest. We hope sleep overtakes us quickly, because morning will come and our alarm will ring.
But sometimes sleep eludes us. We’ve pushed too hard and are over tired. Like a baby who gets overstimulated, we have to do the adult version of “crying ourselves to sleep,” tossing and turning and trying to get comfortable while we wait for rest.
The God who never sleeps is the one who gives us power. But who will give us rest?
Weary & Waiting
And so we wait for the renewal of our strength. God is the giver. We are the weary. Simple definitions that lead to a simple equation. Surely he will renew our strength. We, the weary, must ask for him, the giver, to renew our strength. Meanwhile we wait.
That’s how Isaiah ends his meditation on weariness. He calls us to wait.
“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”
Waiting is the hardest thing for busy, weary people to do. We need rest. We are impatient to have our strength renewed. How can we keep waiting? When will the God who gives power finally give us rest? How will he do it?
This is the third “so what?”
The God who is never weary became weary, so he could give us rest.
The God Who Takes Naps
The Bible tells us that the Eternal Son took on our flesh while retaining his divinity. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He became God incarnate. Embodied. Enfleshed. Jesus the Christ embraced our limits and became weary, like us.
We see his fatigue on one particular day, when he told his disciples it was time to leave the crowds and cross to the other side of the Galilean Sea. It was evening after a long day. It was no wonder he fell asleep, as three gospels tell us.
“…but he was asleep” (Matthew 8:24).
“But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion” (Mark 4:38).
“…and as they sailed, he fell asleep” (Luke 8:23).
Now, I am one who falls asleep easily in the car. But other times, when I’m up against a deadline and pushing hard, I don’t fall asleep easily. I’m tired, but wakeful. Overwrought. Jesus was that busy. He was in the middle of his public ministry, healing, teaching, leading. Fatigued, I could imagine him like me when I’m overtired, tossing and turning in the boat, trying to get comfortable. Reliving the day’s conversations. Wondering when the disciples would get with the program. Worrying about the problems that tomorrow would bring.
But instead we read that he fell sound asleep. And he stayed asleep despite the onset of a storm that sent the boat rocking violently. This was more than fatigue. This was rest.
The God Who Rests and Gives Rest
It’s one thing for the powerful God to give us strength. The God Who is Never Weary is eminently qualified to give us power. We understand that equation. It’s quite another thing for our weary Savior to give from his weakness. The God Who Takes Naps, gives us rest.
Jesus became weary–for us. Because he shares our humanity, fatigue and all:
- He’s sympathetic to us. He knows what it feels like.
- He knows how weariness tempts us–either to quit or to push harder.
- Yet his weariness never caused him to sin. He obeyed for us.
- He trusted his Father in his weariness.
- By his Spirit, he can help us trust our heavenly Father in weariness, too.
“So what?” Here’s what.
When Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,” he speaks as the weary one. He speaks as the Rest Needer, not just as the Rest Giver. Jesus found rest in his Heavenly Father, and offers that rest to us.
When Isaiah wrote, “But they who wait for the LORD will shall renew their strength,” he speaks of the Lord who became weary, so he himself could wait for the LORD. We wait with him for renewed strength to “run and not be weary, walk and not faint.”
We need a God who has no limits.
We also need a God who embraced our limits, so he could show us how to wait on the LORD.