I first saw this phrase over the summer. At first, I thought it was permission to be lazy (for some of you, it might be!), but there is much to be learned from Jesus’ nap on the boat (Mark 4:35-41).
One day, Jesus took His disciples on a boat at night. After a long day with the crowds, I’m sure the disciples were looking forward to a nice relaxing night on the boat. But what is described as “a furious squall” erupts in the sky, and the wind and the waves seem to ambush the boat. How could God let this happen? His disciples actually had problems? How could it be so?!
Throughout this storm, Jesus is asleep. In the middle of the storm, when everything was going crazy, that’s when Jesus decides to take a nap. It makes sense, since He spent most of His waking hours teaching and healing people. Now that the crowds were gone, He can sleep. The gospel of Mark even says that Jesus is sleeping on a cushion! But wouldn’t He want more calming music to help Him relax, as opposed to the whistling of the wind and the crashing of the waves?
When they find Jesus, the disciples instantly wake Him up and ask Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” I believe they were right to turn to their Master, to believe that He could stop the wind and the waves from destroying the ship. And in all seriousness, they are in danger in this story. However, the stance of Jesus during the hubbub should have been a cue for the disciples to follow.
You see, by taking a nap, Jesus demonstrates that there is no reason to be afraid, even in the midst of the storm. If Jesus was worried, then the disciples should be worried. Since He is at peace, the disciples should be at peace as well. Jesus is helping to grow their faith by reminding them that they are braver than they think, and more equipped than they think.
After all, most of them are fishermen! Was that the first time they were ever in a storm? Did they know that a storm was in the forecast? Did they try to warn Jesus before getting on the storm? Why were they so afraid when they’ve done this multiple times?
Because no matter how equipped they were, they were not Jesus. Their skills were limited, while the skills of Jesus are unlimited.
Right after the disciples wake up Jesus, He rises to His feet and calms the wind and the waves in an instant. His power didn’t activate because He was awake. He had that power all along, available to Him at any moment.
The last time I was on a plane, I was incredibly nervous, especially because they didn’t assign us seats until we were boarding, and I needed to sit with my husband Lenny or I would go nuts. Thank God, we were able to sit together, but I was still a little uneasy before takeoff. A few minutes into the flight, I look over, and my husband is asleep! Granted, it was early in the morning, but didn’t he know I needed him? When I woke him up, he looked up at me, annoyed, and said, “You’re fine. Go to bed.” My husband fell asleep because he knew I wasn’t in danger. Since he relaxed, I was able to relax, too.
Jesus didn’t nap because He was lazy. Jesus wasn’t avoiding His problems. He wasn’t waiting for the day to fast forward so that He could start over the next day. I’m guilty of taking a nap because anxiety stole my ability to solve problems, and I’m guilty of taking a nap because depression stole my ability to enjoy the day. But I’m also guilty of neglecting to rest when I think I have to do it all. Instead, I have to let Jesus take over and direct my steps. His Spirit lives in me, helping me live each day. And if He’s napping, I’m napping too!
When anxiety strikes, I instantly forget how smart I am, how brave I am, and how stupid these lies are. But when I look to Jesus, the one who is control, and I see that He was able to sleep in the midst of a scary storm, then He suddenly calms the wind and the waves in my heart.
So, on that note, even though I have a ton of things to do and I’m incredibly anxious about the next few days, I’m going to take a nap!