When I started my degree, I can remember being challenged to take a ‘rest day’ from my studies. Unfortunately, I thought I knew better, I was a chemistry student, and didn’t they realise I had to study at every available moment? However, the person that challenged me point to the biblical teaching on this. Genesis 2:2-3 says:
By the seventh dayGod 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 restedfrom all the work of creatingthat he had done.
And also the fourth commandment, Exodus 20:8-11
“Remember the Sabbathday by keeping it holy.Six days you shall labour and do all your work,but the seventh day is a Sabbathto theLordyour God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.For in six days theLordmade the heavens and the earth,the sea, and all that is in them, but he restedon the seventh day.Therefore theLordblessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
I then started to try and put into place a day of rest, not because I felt like I was commanded to, but because I felt it was important. I still did things which the Pharisees would have taken to be ‘work’, for example a food shop, but I enjoyed a lazy morning, studied God’s work, something that for the rest of the week often had a time limited, and just enjoyed resting.
So, I want to encourage you to do try and take a day of rest a week. I know there are many arguments not to, but as well as being a style of living commanded by God, I also believe it is beneficial to your health and is also an amazing witness. When your friends are in the midst of exam panic, it can be very difficult to take a day off, but in doing so you’re showing you’re trusting in God rather than your academic success. That you put your dependence on God, rather that on your own ability. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t work, Exodus 20:8 says “Six days you shall labour and do all your work…” which clearly suggests that as God’s people we should work hard, and that we can honour God in our studies, but we need to be careful to take the seventh day as a Sabbath day, a day of rest.
Whilst I managed to maintain a day of rest throughout the majority of my degree, I’ve recently found that I’m slipping back into not taking a day of rest. And, consequently, have been re-challenge on the importance of this. God has used several ways in order to get me to stop and listen, to wait and rest in his presence. But the way he has spoken most regularly, and with the deepest conviction, was through his word in the Bible. I’m currently doing the Soul Survivor Bible in a Year, and have just finished Exodus, and over and over again God stresses the importance of resting. Now I’m no longer studying, I can’t use the blanket rule of no chemistry on a Sunday, because work now takes lots of other forms. But, I’ve realised the habits I used to have for a Sunday, being able to have a prolonged time with God, study the bible more in-depth, and also just to physically rest, I’m now missing. And they’re habits I want to get back into.
So, I challenge you: this week re-organise your diary, arrange to schedule your work into 6 days not 7, and take up a day of rest. You can work out what you count as ‘work’ and what is ‘rest’ and make sure you take a day off.
Jess Vaughan is a Student Forgee. She graduated from the University of York last summer