by Dale Reeves
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
This quote has been attributed to both General George Patton and the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. Regardless of who said it, I think it rings true. Today you may be suffering from post-Thanksgiving syndrome. You may have worked hard cleaning your house, getting ready for the in-laws’ visit, shopping, baking, driving in traffic, maybe working overtime earlier in the week so you could take today off. You may be exhausted from cleaning up the messes made by the children (or the dog) yesterday. Or you may just want to spend the day on the couch binge watching something on TV while you recover from your food coma.
Yesterday we had twenty-three people at our house for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast prepared by my beautiful wife and my fabulous mother-in-law. Next to Christmas morning breakfast, it’s my favorite meal of the year. I’m looking forward to chowing down on the leftovers today! Every year the same ritual takes place. After we have all eaten our fill, the dishes are cleaned up and put in the dishwasher, and the children are running about working off some of their energy. Before the pies and desserts make their appearance on the kitchen island, and the Black Friday ads descend on the table, you can see the gears moving in the minds of the adults (OK, mostly the men) . . . Where can I sneak off to take my afternoon nap?
For years, I blamed the tryptophan found in turkey. This amino acid, I reasoned, forms the basis of brain chemicals that make people tired. But the truth is, turkey isn’t any more to blame than other foods. In fact, consuming large amounts of carbohydrates may be the real cause of the post-Thanksgiving-meal snooze. Tryptophan is one component of the chemical serotonin, which gets converted into the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. But tryptophan isn’t just found in turkey, it’s in poultry and many other protein-based foods such as eggs, nuts, and cheese. So, maybe there are other reasons for my desire to take a nap on Thanksgiving Day and the day after.
I Want to Be Like Jesus
If the tryptophan myth isn’t working for me, I think I’ll go with my true spiritual motivation—if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. Hard to argue with that. Of course I’m referring to the narrative recorded in the Gospel of Matthew chapter eight, and in Mark chapter four, and in Luke chapter eight. The Holy Spirit made sure we didn’t miss this—three times the story is told. Jesus had been very busy, not cleaning the house and preparing for a Thanksgiving feast or a visit from the relatives, but rather a very busy season of ministry. This came on the heels of his three-chapter-long Sermon on the Mount, followed by quite a few physical healings—a man with leprosy, a servant with paralysis, numerous people who were demon-possessed, the raising back to life of a widow’s son, and his companion Peter’s mother-in-law, who had a high fever. All the while, his critics were taking notes and questioning his sanity and motivation. Jesus’ mind and body were tired and he needed a good long nap.
The writer Mark tells us as they were sailing on the Sea of Galilee, a “furious squall came up and the waves nearly broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.” Guess what Jesus was doing during the storm? He was asleep on a cushion in the stern. The disciples woke him and asked, “Don’t you care if we drown?” He was sleeping so soundly in the midst of the storm that they had to wake him! I don’t know about you, but when I am woken up in the midst of a deep sleep, the first thing I don’t contemplate doing is performing a miracle. But that is exactly what Jesus did as he spoke calm to the storm. It was after this incident that the disciples said to one another in reverent fear, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41, NIV).
Need Some Rest?
Are you tired today? Tired of thinking, tired of running, tired of striving, tired of hustling? Tired of people around you not getting it? Tired of not being appreciated? Tired of not being understood? Maybe in your symphony of life, you need to just simply rest. In music composition, a rest duration is the timing of silence in a measure. It might be for a whole rest, a half rest, a quarter rest, an eighth rest, or a sixteenth rest. Each of these rests informs the singer or player how long to pause in silence and rest, allowing what has gone before—and what will come after—to have greater impact!
Do you want your life to have greater impact on those around you? Maybe today you just need to stop and rest.
There is an interesting Hebrew word recorded 71 times in the Psalms and three times in the prophet Habakkuk. That word is Selah. Sometimes the word is repeated more than once within the same Psalm. For emphasis. Why is that word there? Scholars don’t know with absolute certainty but their best guess is that Selah was a musical term of some sort, given to provide musical direction. Many believe that it simply meant to “pause” or “reflect” on what had just been recorded in the text. I think it was similar to a musical rest. Let it soak in. Meditate on it. Ruminate on it.
So, as you decide to be like Jesus and take a good nap today, pause and consider what God may be saying to you in this season of life. I encourage you to take the opportunity to take a few hours away from this crazy, busy, non-stop existence we all tend to live in—and consider the immense mysteries and wonders of God. And, when you wake up, thank Jesus for all the times he has saved you from the raging storms that were about to consume you.