3 Reasons Why Insanely Busy College Students MUST Rest
MCGEE NALL // SENIOR
Something Courtney posted on her blog the other day struck a chord with me (if you haven't read it yet, stop reading this right now and click here), and I think it's a great reflection of what we briefly discussed this past Sunday in Exodus 23.
But first, let's pause and review, shall we? This is what God said about the Sabbath in Exodus 20 and 23 (a little long, but hey, it's the literal Word of God):
Remember what Vic and Chris Fitz said? We should work our TAILS off for six days, and then rest. I know. Rest is such a foreign concept for us college students, I get it.
But here are a few reasons why we as busy college students MUST understand the value of rest:
1. Rest keeps us from sinning.
We've all been exhausted, weary, and dare I say "hangry" before, right? Maybe you feel that right now (I do). What happens when we get that way? We become self-absorbed. We constantly think about how tired or frustrated we are, we don't serve our roommates, we snap at our parents over the phone, we become doubtful, irritable, bitter, and worrisome. Perhaps the worst of all is that we become prideful. Remember what the guys said:
"When we reject rest, we're rejecting God's sovereignty because we feel like stuff can't happen without us."
Which perfectly correlates to John Piper's "theology of sleep" that they mentioned on Sunday:
When we rest, it's like wiping fog off of our glasses. It gives us new perspective to not just focus on ourselves, but on the world around us. Sleep is continual practice and rehearsal of saying, "I am not in control. I am not in control. I am not in control." Why do you think He created us to where we must sleep every night? Because we are a finite, forgetful people who need DAILY reminders that we are not God and must let Him do His work while we rest.
Does that mean we should snooze all the time? No. Let's not conform to our negative stereotype as being lazy millennials, okay? Let's work our butts off, but then turn around and take time to rest, spend time in the Word, and trust in Him. This attitude will look a lot different than our lost friends, won't it?
Speaking of attitude:
2. Rest teaches us how to be more like God
Earlier this year I started rereading Mark Buchanan's The Rest of God (oh my word guys, you must read this) and it reminded me of a very important lesson: Sabbath is not just one day. It's an attitude. Sabbath is something that should consume you, even when craziness and busyness ensues. (Again long, but SORRY NOT SORRY.)
BUT WAIT, LET'S REMIND OURSELVES THAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT US *Cue Buchanan again*
BAM, RIGHT?? I mean dang, I sure needed that today. I'm still recovering from an exhausting week and was on the verge of serious panicking this morning as I was trying to figure out how to squeeze in a project before Thanksgiving break. Without even knowing I was slowly losing my sanity, my sweet mom (shoutout to Kim Nall) sent me an email. There were lots of words she said, sweet, life-giving words I'll remember for the rest of my life. But this is the message the Lord gave her one morning, and the message I want you to hear:
My glasses had been fogged up. In my exhaustion, because I had not properly rested, my weakness and doubt started to cloud my vision. I needed my mother's encouragement, the truth from the Lord, to breathe away the fog. I had prayed scared, fearful prayers, instead of doing what Vic and Joel have been teaching us all along through Exodus: "fear the right thing."
Remember what Moses tells the Israelites after God gives them the 10 commandments? The former slaves are shaking in their boots (sandals, whatever) and Moses says:
If there's one thing I've taken away from Exodus this semester, it's this: PUT YOUR FEAR IN THE RIGHT PLACE. You should not fear what the people of this world fear: rejection from friends, failure in the workplace, death, hopelessness, etc. Out of awe, reverence, and respect for Him, we should fear the Almighty God because the God of Exodus—of pillars of fire and raging seas and smoked-covered mountains—is OUR GOD, and the same power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives within us, therefore, WE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID.
Anyways. My mother's note reminded me of another reason why we need rest:
3. Rest helps us do the one necessary thing.
Now, FINALLY, I can talk about Courtney's post. She talked about Mary and Martha and how she felt convicted about being like Martha lately (I can relate on a deep level). But Jesus tells Martha to do something different—to stop, and remember the most important thing in the entire world. While Mary is "seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His Word," Jesus gives Martha a word just for her (and all of us like her):
Notice two things here:
1. "ONLY ONE THING IS NECESSARY": when you sense the old flesh starting to dominate you, and you desperately need the truth, encouragement, and bluntness of Scripture, you better drop everything and RUN to the feet of Jesus, because:
2. "WHICH SHALL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER": I don't think I've paid attention to that phrase until now, but spending time with Jesus and meditating on His Word is never, EVER a waste of time. Now, does that mean we should neglect all other responsibilities and just stay locked in our room for 9 hours studying the Bible and geeking over Blue Letter Bible cross references?? Of course not. But when the Lord is drawing us to Himself, or we sense the Holy Spirit stirring in our hearts, or we desperately crave the Word, then by golly, let's run after it and follow Courtney's advice:
SO. After all that blabbing you're probably wondering what it looks like to rest practically, right? There obviously isn't a mathematical formula for this, but here's how we can start:
1. Drop on your knees and pray. Remember what Mama Nall said? JUST ASK. Get in the posture of asking and straight up ask the Lord to teach you how to rest.
2. Know what stirs your affections for Christ. I think somewhere we fell into this trap of believing all of our "quiet times" had to look the same. It has to be at 5:30 in the morning, or be cute with flowery, calligraphy-covered journals, or be on top of a literal mountain. What gets you PUMPED about Jesus?? For me, I LOVE singing worship music in the car on my way to school. I LOVE praying while running on trails. When I have extra time, I LOVE going through a book of the Bible and furiously taking notes like a nerd. You know yourself better than you think—what gets you excited about Jesus? Stop trying to be like your favorite Christian on Instagram and do what you need to do.
3. Turn off your dang phone, and give yourself at least a few hours one day this week to do whatever would feel great to you. Nap. Read Harry Potter. Catch up with your roommates. Journal. Sketch. Build something. WHATEVER. Just do it, and do it with a posture of praise and thanksgiving.
Speaking of thanksgiving, let's go into this break and actually, really, TRULY rest. Don't fill every second of every day doing something or meeting with someone. Give yourself time and space to sit with the Lord and reflect on who HE is. I leave you with words from an old hymn (that no one sings, why, I don't know) called "Father, I Know That All My Life":