Student Vac - Resting Well


The vac is finally here. After mountains of assignments, tests and exams, you can finally relax and take a seat back. Freedom!  God, instituted the concept of rest, and He Himself (God of all the universe) also rested.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” - Genesis 2:1-3.

Rest is a good thing, but one of the greatest problems in relation to it is that we sometimes miss what it means to truly rest. Tim Keller talks about the work beneath the work—that need to prove and save ourselves, to gain a sense of worth and identity [1] or summarised, having a self-centred/it’s all about me, mindset towards rest.

Looking back to my student years, my vac’s were really represented by this. Although not overtly, deep down there was always a God-like ownership over my rest. I dictated what I did, when and how I did it. It was about me. One hilarious thing I used to do, linked to this, was personify my campus as a person that I could get-back over this period. For this period, I was in charge!

Although my story above might seem justified due to the intensity of the semester, could I suggest that this self-centred/it’s all about me mindset towards rest will usually leave us longing for more rest. We will never feel truly rested. To truly understand rest we need to understand how God designed it and for what purpose He designed it for. To cover this exhaustively it would take more than the length of this blog post and would require a more in-depth study (which I would encourage you to do whenever you have time). Below however, I share two points that have helped me revolutionise the way I look at rest-from God’s purpose/design.

God initiated, God sustained

If God is the one who established the concept of rest, then surely, true rest can only be found in Him. Any rest outside God’s will and purposes never truly satisfies. True rest can only be found as we grow in knowing Christ more and more as Saviour and King.

We read from Matthew 11:28 the words of Jesus; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” C.H Spurgeon, preaching on this verse, talks about a weariness within us, a burden we bear when we try to find our own salvation, when we try make an identity for ourselves or be our own gods [2]. Indeed this is such a burdensome task. Although we might be at rest physically, unless we deal with this inner turmoil, we will never know what it means to truly rest.

Bringing it closer to home; during vac you have no assignments, tests or exams, which might seem like the best recipe for rest. However, if for instance, you don’t know your identity in Christ, you will still sleep late scrolling through social media or watching movies to try fill a void only God can fill.

So as you begin this vac period, I would urge you, aim to know Him more. Aim to know that in Him you are perfect, not because of any righteousness of your own, but because of His death on the cross that paid for all our wrong doing. Aim to know him as Sovereign King, ruler of all, powerful and mighty. Aim to know Him as the good shepherd, who cares so tenderly for His flock.  As we adventure to know God more we will truly find rest.

Practically, this does not mean literally spending your whole vac face down in prayer and Bible studies. What I am advocating for is asking yourself daily, “How can I know Christ better?” Indeed, spending time in prayer, the Bible and in community with other Christian believers is crucial for this, but this could also even be in the form of simple activities. For instance taking a walk and reflecting on His beauty. Let’s aim to know Him more this vac!

We Rest to Work, not From Work  

In Genesis 1 - 2, it is quite fascinating that the first day Adam and Eve experienced was a Sabbath, a day of rest, then followed by days of work. One principle that has really revolutionised the way I view rest (stemming from this, although not as doctrine) is viewing rest from a rest to work perspective rather than a rest from work perspective.

When you rest to work, your mind has a forward-looking, God glorifying focus. It asks, how can I, best rest now, in order to do what God has called me for in the next season of my life. It’s choosing to rest wisely, as you detach from your normal work.

Contrary, when your mindset is that of resting from work you feel entitled to your rest. You have worked hard this last season, so you deserve the break. The world revolves around you, it must serve you the rest due to you. As already mentioned, this never brings true rest. Not to mention the warped view of work it produces, that is, viewing work as a burden, not a blessing.   

To give an example of my own life, as you might have already picked up from the first paragraphs, for me, every vac, I deserved to rest. I deserved to watch series and movies all day long. I had a hard semester!  Through God’s grace however, my mindset changed over time. I learned to view my rest as a gift from God. I learned to think how I can best rest now, in line with what God has called me to do for the next season of my life.

Practically it could mean, rather than watching fictional movies all the time, maybe I could watch a movie that covers the history of South Africa (as I believe God has called me to sow into this context, at least for now). I am still resting, this hasn't changed, but I have a forward God-glorifying focus.

What do you feel God has called you to? Is there any area He would want you to focus on next semester, next life journey. How can you best rest during this period, to prepare you for this?

Hope you all enjoy your vacations!

[1] The power of deep rest, Tim Keller. Available from: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-power-of-deep-rest

[2] Rest, Rest, Charles Spurgeon. Available from: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0969.htm.




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