Thursday, March 3, 2011

True Rest vs. Ignoring Your Responsibilities

Academia is a very demanding sphere. No more demanding than any other, but the presence of deadlines and the huge burden of parents' and professors' expectations can sometimes make it extremely stressful.

The other day I simply ran out of steam. I honestly didn't know how I was going to press through the next two weeks until spring break. I was at the end of my rope and in desperation I reached out to grasp God's.

For the last few weeks I had barely been keeping my head above water, and every spare moment I resorted to various forms of entertainment to help me forget all the things looming over me for a few hours. Novels during my lunch breaks and movies at night were the only things keeping me going. Or so I thought.

In reality they were draining me. Instead of using that time to recharge for the work ahead of me, I was wasting it in idle pleasure. Yes, it was pleasant to forget my responsibilites for a time, but when the credits rolled and the chapter ended my responsibilities were still there, waiting for me.

So when I got out of class one day and realized I couldn't go on, I prayed to God. He led me to the Prayer Chapel located a short distance from my class building. I walked in, faintly hoping it would be empty...It wasn't.

There were about ten other people in various attitudes and positions around the chapel. Some sitting in pews, some leaning against the walls, some fervently praying, others silently pouring their hearts out. I walked about halfway to the front and sat down to pray. I wish I could say all the stress just rolled off me right there...It didn't.

After I finished praying, I decided to walk back to my dorm and enjoy the beautiful weather. When I got back my work was waiting for me, same as always. But this time, I didn't lock myself in my room and spend the afternoon slogging through it. I didn't go on Netflix and waste a few hours entertaining myself. I got a blanket with my devotional, my bible, and a book of Puritan prayers and I went out to enjoy the day.

Sprawling in the delicious sunshine, I opened my devotional and this is what greeted me:
"The God of peace...make you complete in every good work to do His will." --Hebrews 13:20-21
"Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you." --2 Corinthians 13:11
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." --2 Corinthians 3:5
"[Jesus] said..."Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." --Mark 6:31
and best of all:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." --Psalm 23:1-2

Peace, rest, restoration...the words were like a healing balm. And for the first time in months, wrapped in my soft blanket, the sun shining down and the wind gently blowing over me, I truly rested. Not the fruitless distractions and empty entertainment the world gives. But authentic, peaceful rest.

I wasn't outside long. Maybe 30 or 40 minutes at the most. But when I came back inside I felt rejuvenated. Refreshed. At peace. And as I worked away on papers, reading assignments and study guides, I enjoyed one of the most restful afternoons I have ever experienced.

I am not saying movies and novels are always bad. But why waste two fruitless hours in empty entertainment, when the Shepherd of your heart is waiting to restore your soul?...


Shyla said...

You write in such a relevant, real way. It is so refreshing to read about this struggle. I relate it to my own kids, but also to myself.

He waits for us. Good for you in being persistent.

God's peace...