A deep voice riddled by static blasted through the radio. I couldn’t hear what was said and wouldn’t have understood the language even if I had. But whatever magic words were uttered, our driver’s ears perked up. Our safari Jeep was suddenly barreling across the dusty path of Nairobi National Park. We held on all the more tightly to our cameras—and our seats.
“There,” the driver said, pointing to a tree just over the hill. It was a clear day with big, marshmallow clouds populating the sky. “Lions.”
Two other Jeeps had beaten us to the spot. Another dozen or so would soon join, each responding to the crackling radio voices.
It was worth the hasty drive. Four lions lounged about in front of us, enjoying the early morning sun, the tall grass, and the view of Nairobi’s skyline. Two of the lions were in the tree itself, resting as casually as my own cat rests on my couch. Not a care in the world. Struggling, even, to keep their eyes open.
Snap. Snap. Snap. The sound of dozens of cameras echoed across the grasslands. Gasps from our fellow adventurers followed each gaping lion yawn.
We were there for the better part of an hour, lined up around a single tree to watch animals sleep. There was a point when one of the lions moved down the tree—What’s she doing?! Oh my goodness! Look at her go!—simply to resume resting closer to the ground. Another briefly considered climbing the tree in question before merely sleeping in its shade.
But wow, did we react to everything excitedly. Snap. Snap. Snap! More Jeeps pulled up. More people gasped and fawned and took videos of animals sitting utterly still.
And I’ll be honest: It was awesome. Four lions! Some of them were in a tree! I mean, call the fire department, right?
But even then, in that moment, it wasn’t lost on me how over-the-top we were all reacting simply to observe creatures at rest. They weren’t juggling. They weren’t doing magic tricks. They weren’t teaching us physics. They were, at best, trying to stay awake.
And I wonder: Is that how we treat rest when it comes to ourselves? To those around us? Do we marvel at our ability to rest? Do we study our partners while they take a nap? How beautiful! Do we bask in the glow of the colleague so overworked to the point of sleeping at one’s desk? How majestic! Do we consider ourselves awe-inspiring when we do nothing more than lie down for 20 minutes?
I know I don’t do any of those things; ask my wife. Rest is just time we’re not being productive, not getting things done, not playing with our children or mowing the lawn or starting that painting project.
Rest isn’t something at which we marvel. It’s something to avoid. Or so says that inner voice within me.
But what if we changed the script? We’re supposed to honor the Sabbath, right? We’re supposed to rest—in the image and likeness of the God who created us, in whom we are reflected. I believe that God absolutely delights in watching us at rest. I believe that same God pulls up in a Jeep with the whole heavenly host just to take a picture of us snoozing.
What if we looked at ourselves and others at rest with delight? What if we rejoiced in the rest of others, marveled, and thanked God for such wonder and beauty?
Overkill, right? But it’s no less than we do with lions. Why can’t we be as awestruck by one another?
As these summer months roll on, take time to rest—and let others do the same. And imagine our God of rest delighting.