Do you remember when you liked someone in grade school how afraid you were to talk to them? (Or maybe that’s still true today). You remember that paralyzing feeling of fear and how much it controlled you, that sick-to-your stomach feeling, that dizzy-I’m-going-to-faint feeling, that fear that made every thought you ever had fly out of your head the moment you opened your mouth so you just felt like an idiot with your mouth hanging open.
If I’m honest, I have this feeling about Christian stuff too. What will people say if I raise my hands in worship on Sundays or if I sing out my own words when we’re supposed to be singing Mighty to Save? What if I go up to receive prayer- what will people think? What will my coursemates say when I mention that I believe in Jesus? Or if I offer to pray for them? Suddenly you’re thinking: do I do this thing that makes me really uncomfortable that someone else might think is crazy?
The problem with fear like this is that it comes out of over-valuing peoples’ opinions over God’s opinion. If you get that little prompt to do something which you naturally wouldn’t do and you know you probably ought to be doing, it’s probably the Holy Spirit trying to teach you something, trying to stretch your faith and grow your relationship with God. We grow the most when we are open to being uncomfortable and willing to take risks we probably wouldn’t ever do on our own.
When we do the things we are afraid to do, we must rely on God’s strength. We must trust He knows what He’s doing in our lives even we don’t know what’s going on. Facing what scares us forces us to get on our knees, admit that we need God. It forces us to remember where our identity is— or rather Who it is found in —not in what others think, but in Christ.
Are we willing to die to ourselves in order to bring glory to God? Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24) The Kingdom of God does not grow without sacrifice. The grain of wheat must die to bear fruit and we must die to self if we want to see the Kingdom harvest.
Being a follower of Jesus means that we’ve committed to a life that is not cosy, and is not comfortable. Following Jesus means we are ready for an adventure that we’re not in control of, that’s beyond all we could think or imagine. Instead of saying “Oh God wouldn’t plan something that big or crazy for my life” let’s say “God, what kind of crazy things do you have for me?”
Let’s not be ruled by fear because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord,..but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Tim 1:7-8). Paul says that “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim 1:12). We know the character of Whom we have believed— we have seen His love, His goodness, His power in our own lives. Let’s not be ashamed of our God, of doing His work, even when it might be uncomfortable, or seem crazy to people. We know whom we have believed, and He will be faithful to us in every situation.
Let’s up our challenge level, let’s get uncomfortable, let’s stretch our faith in God, and let’s be expectant to see Him working in our lives and in others. How are you going to get uncomfortable this week?
Monica Godfrey is a Student Forgee who came to the Belfrey while pursuing her masters in modern literature at York Uni.
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