Friday, August 11, 2017

College Life, Rest, and the Christian Identity


I dropped out of college going-on-four years ago. But I did not drop out because I was failing. If anything, I had every opportunity to succeed. So what happened? What happened was I burned out. Plain and simple. I overextended myself, overcommitted myself, took on too many credit hours, took on too many work hours, and got involved in too many social commitments.

Our society has little to no regard for rest, especially when you are eighteen years old, young, and strong. What’s more, our society has about zero regard for God’s designated rest, the Lord’s Day or Sunday.

The Ten Commandments are becoming more and more offensive to our society, but let us not forget that God gave the commandments, especially the Fourth Commandment, as a means of liberation for his people. The law gave the Hebrew nation constraints, but it also defined them as a free people, free from the Egyptians, free from slavery, and free from sin. Instead the Israelites were now free to love one another, and free to worship their God.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).
The Ten Commandments were the blueprint for how to love God and love one another. Remember, Jesus said all the Law and Prophets are summarized by the commandment to love God, love one another, and do unto others as you would have them to do to you (Matthew 7:12, 22:34-40). If you are looking to know how to love God and love your neighbor, look no further than the Law and the Prophets (i.e. everything in the Old Testament). When we see God's Law, we are not simply looking at a set of rules imposed upon some ancient civilization. We are looking at the essence of what it means to love God and love one another. In short, these commandments are important and relevant to us, especially God's command for us to rest. 

Two of the most defining characteristics of the nation of Israel were worship and rest.

The Israelites were a people who rested from their work. Every seven days they rested. Every seven years their land rested. They were a people who rested in order to worship God and complete good work the following week. This characteristic separated them from their former identity as slaves in the nation of Egypt. Who knows how frequently Pharaoh let them take a day off? Now they no longer served Pharaoh. Instead they served and worshipped Yahweh the Creator, a merciful and good God who gave His people rest. God wove rest into the very fabric of His Law and into the core of the entire civil Law that structured the nation of Israel.

God’s people are no longer restricted to one nation. His church is global, but the defining characteristics and the heart of His law remain the same, and this includes His day of rest. The Christian life should be characterized by rest. It should be the rhythm of our life. Because we are not slaves. We are not slaves to our sin, work, money, success, studies, grades, or even the social expectations and demands of our friends. Yes, we should want to glorify God in our work, but we need to remember that good work is always preceded and completed by rest. If we fail to rest, we will inevitably fail in all other areas of life.

Think about it.

Everything and everyone in this world demands something from you. Time. Energy. Attention. Work.

But God beckons you to come and rest.

Instead of heaping more burdens upon you, He invites you to lay aside your burdens for one day every week and instead worship and praise Him and, yes, take a nap or two because sometimes sleeping is the most holy action possible.

“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).
So you should sleep every night. Because God gives His loved ones sleep. And God gives you enough time to do all the work you need to do. He also gives you enough grace (through faith in Jesus Christ) to conquer sin. I promise this is true, even if it does not feel like it is true. There is enough time. There is more than enough grace. And even if there is not enough time, anxiety and sleeplessness are never going to give you more time. So go to bed. Go to sleep. Let rest and peace define your life, not your anxieties and deadlines.

Rest is about more than simply getting enough sleep and doing a good job in college. Rest is about holiness. Rest is about possessing the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. It is about being a follower of Christ. It is about ultimately trusting God with your time, your work, with everything. God called the Israelites out of Egypt to be a nation set apart, a holy nation, a sanctified people. In the same way, God calls you, the saint, the Christian, and the entire church to come and rest

My challenge this semester and this year and for the rest of my life is to approach Sunday, the Lord's Day, and the Worship of God, not as another burdensome task I begrudgingly complete, but instead as a respite I cheerfully anticipate whether I am tired or well-rested. Because when it comes down to it, the Lord's Day is something I need more than it is something I need to do.

I want to approach this day as a day when I can do less, put aside everything else that has been causing me anxiety the rest of the week, be tired if I want, dress casual if I want, but still have a joyful attitude and peace of heart because I know God welcomes me into His worship regardless. I want to make it a day to put aside my needs and instead find ways to extend mercy to others. Because God has given me more than enough time and more than enough grace! And He gives His loved ones rest.

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:9-12).

4 comments :

  1. Ohh wow, this really hit me. Such an encouraging yet, challenging post! <3<3<3

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    1. Clara, I'm so happy you hear that! I think it is especially challenging for students because we have /so/ many demands and sometimes the most difficult thing is taking a break from it all to focus on worshipping God and resting in Him.

      Thanks for stopping by!!

      Dani xoxo

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  2. Love this! I dropped out of college this summer too for one reason - I had too much on my plate. This post is what everyone going to college needs told! <3 <3 <3

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    1. Thank you, Kara Lynn! I think we all need to be a reassured that it is okay to stop, it is okay to say "this is too much" even if all of society thinks you should be able to meet every single expectation and demand thrust upon you. We need to be more willing to know our own limits, know when we need to stop and rest, and be willing to say "no" when pushed too far.

      Thanks again!! :)

      Dani xoxo

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