Reading time: two minutes. Elijah’s Broom Tree episode gets interesting at verse 5 of 1 Kings 19: “The Elijah lay down under the tree and fell asleep.” I’m not sure whether to interpret that as Law or Gospel. Was Elijah’s rest a part of his collapse from the burdens of ministry, or was it the beginning of the Lord’s process of gracious healing and restoration? It’s a fascinating hermeneutical question that points out that regardless of who we are or where we serve in ministry, we’re always in need of the healing, restorative graces of God in Christ. Always. Every day, regardless of whether we’re riding the waves of the most joyous, blessed times of ministry or trudging through the valleys of frustration. Naps can be very therapeutic. Here’s some of what I’ve learned about naps. Sometimes people who work as hard as we do just need permission to take care of ourselves. I was sitting in the office of my pastoral counselor friend years ago when I blurted out, “Sometimes I just feel like taking a nap!” He busted out laughing! “See that couch you’re sitting on? Every afternoon at 2:30 for the past 26 years! Get with the program, man!” Let me repeat: “Get with the program!” Do your best to schedule a break in your schedule and understand that 20-30 minutes of self-care will make you more effective and productive than you’d be pushing through your grogginess. Remember, after Elijah woke up for a snack, he went back to sleep again. I recently had a week off after Christmas. I’d been pushing pretty hard, so I took an hour long nap every day but one, and some of those naps lasted almost two hours. I was more tired than I thought! When I went back to the office, I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to function, but a weak of rest has put me back at full capacity again. Here’s two quick tips to keep you naps to about 20 minutes or so, the most effective length for a mid-workday break.
- Lie on the couch and drop your arm over the edge with a spoon held lightly in your fingers. If you start to fall into a deep sleep, you’ll drop the spoon and wake up!
- Drink a dose of your favorite caffeine boost, coffee or soda, when you lay down for a nap. It takes about 20 minutes to take effect. You get your nap and your pre-loaded caffeine jolt at the same time. Bingo!