A Theology of Taking a Nap


Between the end of semester craziness that comes with being a professor and prepping for a big event where I’m performing a concert and speaking, the past month has been non-stop. And then there are the dishes and laundry I can’t keep up with, the pile of books to read for research for my first book, and the pieces I’m learning for upcoming recitals. My life is a bit scattered in different directions and I love it.

But my body and mind have their limits. I’ve been waking up exhausted every morning. My mind has slowed down from all the reading, creating, and memorizing. And as exciting as a lot of the things I’m doing are, I find myself feeling more discouraged than exhilarated.

So on Saturday, I decided to do something I’ve been needing to do for a long time:

I took a nap.

“It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

Psalm 127:2

But how on earth could I possibly take a nap when I have so many things to do? I believe in hard work; the Bible has a lot of harsh things to say about laziness. But this doesn’t give me permission to abuse the body God has entrusted me to steward. I only have one, after all.

But there’s another reason I can rest during seasons of high stress:

“Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.”
“Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.”
I can rest because it’s not all up to me.
We weren’t made to work non-stop. If God has called you to do something for His Kingdom, then it’s too great for you to accomplish on your own. You need divine help from the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps, who has the power to carry our burdens, and can do infinitely more than we can possible imagine.

So if you’re in the midst of a season of weariness, it’s possible that most holy thing you can do is take a nap.

Tearing Down Idols


“When you work on your book proposal, stop reading.”

These words of wisdom were spoken to me by an author I admire during a coaching call. A coaching call that I had prayed about as the scheduled date grew near. A coaching call that I was so excited for that I struggled to fall asleep the night before. A coaching call that melted away my fears about writing my first book and caused faith to well up inside of me. I felt like my life was changing in that hour and I was ready to take all her words and run with them. At least, I thought I was. But amidst all of the wonderful things I didn’t expect her to say, she said the thing I really didn’t expect her to say: “When you work on your book proposal, stop reading.”

I panicked. What?!? Stop reading? What am I going to do? How am I going to make it through a season of high pressure writing if I can’t find rest in my books? I don’t know if I can do it! I need my books!

And that’s when I realized that my books weren’t just objects I loved; they had become an idol.

Books are good. They allow me a chance to be taught by great minds. They give me an outlet to rest and use my imagination. They help me grow as a communicator, artist, and Christian. Books make me a better person.

But at times, I allow them to take too much of my time (and money). I’ve been guilty of turning to a book for help before bringing my problems to God. It’s so easy for me to find my rest in books in place of being still in the presence of the Refuge Himself. And for a brief moment during my coaching call, books were more important to me than being obedient to God’s call on my life.

In the Ten Commandments, it’s not an accident that the first command, “You shall have no other gods before me,” is immediately followed by the command forbidding idols. God is to be first and most in our lives, but we have a knack for turning literally anything into something that dethrones Him from first place.

Where I am living now (a small city in Midwest, USA), carved idols aren’t paraded on the streets like other places I’ve lived. Our idols are more subtle, subjective, personal. Idols can be anything.

“…we do not usually make little statuettes of gold and silver and then worship them. But idolatry knows no cultural or temporal barriers. We have four-wheeled idols whose worshipers spend all their effort and money polishing them and driving them faster and faster. We have three-bedroomed idols, whose devotees have to keep them spotlessly clean in case visitors should come. We have square idols with silver screens. Some of us have well-bound idols with pages and dust jackets.”

(N. T. Wright, Small Faith, Great God)

“We love so many things more than we love our holy and fearful God. We love sports, our stuff, our churches, and our rules. We love our friends, our kids, and our reputations. We love creativity, our homes, and our opinions more than we love God. Ladies, I’ll give it to you straight. Some days I feel like the candles in my house get more praise and devotion and thankfulness than my God gets.”

(Jess Connolly, Wild and Free)

Like my books, it’s so easy to justify our idols, to use their usefulness for good to conceal what we have allowed them to become. But when we peel away the mask, their ugliness comes to light and we see why God would be hard on His people when it comes to idolatry. There is so much God wants for us, but idols get in the way.

Idols are unable to redeem people and situations, to turn mourning into dancing, to make dry bones walk. They keep us from being able to fully experience the Giver of Life and from experiencing the abundant life He intended for us.

Idols cannot answer our prayers, cannot be with us everywhere we go the way God can. God hears and listens to us when we cry out to Him. Even when He is silent and works in ways that confound us, He is still with us, still listening.

The devotion we give to idols robs us of opportunities to hear the voice of God in our daily lives, reminders of how He loves us, divine whispers of ways we can show His love to others.

The things or people we turn into idols are too small to be worshipped. Only the One, Living God is worthy of worship because He created the universe and everything in it; He keeps the Earth, sun, moon, and stars in motion; and He is the One who holds all things together. He cares so much about us that He knows the number of hairs on our heads, keeps count of our tossings, and puts our tears in His bottle. And He loves us so much that even though He knew our hearts would be prone to wander far from Him, He shaped the narrative of the world so that at the perfect time and place in history, He could redeem us. And His history shaping work is nowhere near done. We still have yet to go further up and further in!

When we look at who God is and what He has done, it seems ludicrous to treat Him like He is anything less, to give Him any other place in our lives than first.

So how do we tear down our modern-day idols? By spending more and more time gazing upon the wonderfulness of God.

A Woman’s Highest Calling


She ran to me after church, beaming with excitement. “I wanted to tell you before I told anyone else…I’m pregnant!” (Insert squealing, and hugging, and a flood of happy tears.) This sweet friend of mine had walked the painful road of infertility and made my journey through infertility less lonely. I had prayed desperate prayers for her—the words were easy because I had prayed them so many times for myself—and God heard. She was no longer barren. Now she is a mother.

As I walked out of the church building, the happy tears were no longer happy. Buried emotions welled up inside of me and grief took over. I know that God has been overwhelmingly good to me and has filled my heart with beautiful Kingdom dreams. But during that car ride home, I felt like I had gotten a bad deal. My dreams paled in comparison to the dream of motherhood, and I felt ashamed of them.

As I type this, the absurdity of these words is glaring. The Kingdom dreams bestowed upon me by the Almighty God and Creator of the universe seem like a bad deal compared to motherhood? Absurd.

Struggles with infertility are excruciating. I’ve spoken with women who know pain and hardship, and who speak of how the pain of infertility are greater than anything else they’ve experienced. Infertility crushes dreams and mocks our desires. This is hard enough, but it’s made harder still by a lie that we were taught when we were still young:

“Motherhood is a woman’s highest calling.”

“I see women believing and repeating the lie that motherhood is the highest calling for all women. Did you know that’s nowhere in the Bible? The only reference to a chief call on anyone’s life is found in Matthew 6:33: Seek first the Father’s kingdom and His righteousness. We watch as that lie discourages those who are unable to be mothers and immobilizes those who love their children and still feel called to serve in other contexts. I see broken women believing the only role for them is quiet service and the only pace is nonstop. They exhaust themselves as they serve out of obligation, not worship. I see women believing it’s brash and wrong to seek the wisdom of God, waiting on others to intercede and teach them the Word rather than seeking first the kingdom themselves.”

(Jess Connolly in Wild and Free)

Motherhood is NOT a woman’s highest calling.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my mama friends! Motherhood is an amazing calling—mothers shape the world!—but it is neither the highest nor only calling for a woman. And when we reduce women to whether or not they have children, we minimize the potential God has for their lives.

The world needs mothers.

And the world needs women who are not mothers.

Let’s stop reducing women’s identities to motherhood and empower them to be all that God has called them to be: the daughters of the Almighty God, called to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and to fulfill big, beautiful Kingdom dreams!