But I’m not tired! or When we act like a toddler

by Dawn Aldrich

Tantrum by Yong Thye
flickr.com_4041515933_2acb86dd84_CC BY-NC 2.0

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23:2-3 NASB

We’ve all seen it. Every toddler does it. When someone mentions the “N-word” they stomp their feet and declare, “I don’t want a nap! I’m not tired!”

And don’t you find yourself saying, “Oh, please. Would someone send me to bed for a nap? Pretty pleeeease?” Well, yes, I say that all the time…er…except when God asks me to rest. That’s when I take my toddler stance: place my hands on my hips, form the best pouty-face, stomp my feet and say, “But, God, I’m not tired!”

Can anyone else relate? Why do we do that?

Like toddlers, we fear missing out on some action (real or imagined). The chatter we hear might mean someone’s planning something fun or significant and, like a toddler, we want to stay up beyond our bedtime so we don’t miss out. We picture God like our “kill-joy mother who wants to withhold something good from us” instead of a loving Father, who only wants the best for us. Every parent knows, children need their rest to be their best.*

We might resist rest because we fear being overlooked.  In our absence someone else might get an opportunity meant for us; out-of-sight-out-of-mind, you know? But the truth is, when we silence ourselves, rest with God, we lay down our conscious striving and discover our authentic self; our God-given desires and gifts that He placed within us since our conception.

Sometimes, we fear being less-than. If we step away from something, our skills might lapse or we discover we’re not that good anyway. During rest, our truest gifts “come forth in peace and humility and strength to meet the deepest needs of our world.”*

Or, we fear losing control. If we relinquish control of (fill in the blank), we might lose it completely. And what if we do? What if we lose our way? Maybe that’s the point. It takes great faith to relinquish control. What we perceive as our best talent, ministry, gift, etc. might just be a blurry view of God’s best for us. God will reward our humble faith and show us a better way–a partnership rather than a solo mission based upon self-reliance and striving.

Honestly, we get impatient. In rest, we might find ourselves tapping our feet, asking God, “Are we there yet?” Especially after a long rest. Like a toddler, we might think our “nap” will last forever. God doesn’t intend to keep us in perpetual rest. Rather, He’s committed to us returning to our most authentic ministry rested, restored and re-calibrated.

Rest serves a purpose: to restore us. Rest restores us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. During rest our cells regenerate, our bodies heal, our emotions (and fears) settle down, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through our subconscious. In the quiet and solitude rest brings, we allow space for our hearts and souls to breathe and our ears to hear God’s voice. Once we make room to hear God, we’ll know how greatly God loves us and that His intentions toward us are always good. Our hearts may need re-calibration, just like a compass, in order to center ourselves, our gifts, and ministry on Christ. It’s this partnership with God, sustained by His Spirit,  that changes the world.

Is God asking you to rest? Find a regular place for solitude and silence. Honestly, but briefly explain your reasons for showing up. Then, listen.

*Thoughts from Invitation to Solitude and Silence:Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, by Ruth Haley Barton, 2010 IVP