Going home for the Christmas holidays can be a perfect time to reflect. To look back upon the last term, to remember what you heard God was saying into your life and work out whether you have responded to him. To reflect on how you’ve spent your weeks; work out what you’ve enjoyed and what you want to change. So, to help you reflect on your autumn term, I want you to consider this story of Martha and Mary from Luke 10:38-42.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Marthaopened her home to him.She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feetlistening to what he said.But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you carethat my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,”the Lord answered,“you are worriedand upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I don’t know about you, but my natural default is being a Martha. I enjoy being busy, I enjoy serving God, but like Martha, I can often become distracted and worried rather than trusting in God. Martha loved Jesus; she welcomed him into her home and then busied herself making a meal for Jesus and his disciples. Why? Martha wanted to give Jesus the best that she could and that’s amazing. But she was doing it in her own strength; she got distracted by what she felt that she “needed” to achieve, rather than what Jesus wanted her to do, which was for her to spend time with him, to sit at his feet with Mary and listen to him.
How often do we try and become more servant-hearted to please God, to an extent where it becomes the focus of our lives? That we forget about the God we are serving because we become too distracted by our acts of service to him. Like Martha, we shouldn’t take our eyes of Jesus. Think about what Martha was doing, she was preparing a meal for Jesus, who has the power to feed thousands from just a pack-up. Jesus could have easily prepared the meal himself (and his disciples). But Martha, like I do, like I’m sure we all do, got distracted from the fact that the man she was serving is God and felt she had to do it in her own strength. Martha’s intentions were good, we should be serving God today, she invited Jesus into the situation, but then failed to listen to what Jesus was saying and instead listened to the expectations of her culture. Like-wise, we often invite Jesus into a situation only then to run around him trying to do what we perceive is correct in order to honour him.
Instead, we should be like Mary, we should invite Jesus into our lives and then sit at his feet and listen, to let him change our lives. As Christians our aim is to become more Christ-like, than surely the best way to do so is to sit and his feet and worship him? To love and adore him in order to be able to start acting more and more like him in our everyday life. Instead of trying to prove to Jesus we are worthy of him, let’s fall at his feet and remember we are dependent on his grace.
Jess Vaughan is a Student Forgee. She graduated from the University of York last summer
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
Oh, everything is getting crazy now. Whether its back to uni or surviving freshers, everything seems to be in full swing. Classes have started, clubs have begun, and suddenly it seems difficult to find a moment’s peace, a moment’s rest. And I don’t know about you, but I love to be busy. I love to feel needed and productive, love meeting up with people, and being involved in clubs and groups. Often, I overestimate my ability to juggle everything and I burn out, I have emotional meltdowns— I crash and burn.
Sound familiar? I think its part of our fear of missing out—so we pack our days so full that we don’t have any time to stop. But the irony is that in being so busy because we are a afraid of missing out, we actually miss out on what God wants to do in our lives. We have no time for people unless its scheduled in, no time to really cry out to God for certain things He has placed on our hearts, because we are so busy.
I remember being asked by one of my wise mentors in uni, what is the one thing God is calling me to focus on now? I might like lots of things and enjoy being involved in all these groups, but life comes in seasons and we cannot always do everything we want to all the time. So what is the thing that God is really calling me to invest in now, in this season? And its not that other things are bad, usually they are good things, but the good should not crowd out the best. By nature, investing in something means less time to spend elsewhere, meaning we must make decisions. We must say no to other good things.
We can get so caught up in good things that we lose sight of the main thing. We lose sight of developing our personal relationship with God because we are so focused on all the meetings we have where we talk about God. How can we keep the main thing the main thing if we never have any time to spend in God’s presence, in His Word?
We need to get comfortable with saying no, with protecting rest time, with creating margins in our lives. Not because we are selfish, but because we need to be recharged with the truth. We need time to process and reflect if we are to grow. If we build in free time we can give it freely to people who need to chat, need to be encouraged. We can listen and respond to the Spirit’s promptings.
And we’re not building in lazy time, but the freedom to rest in whatever way we need. If that’s journalling, or exercising, or napping, or meditating on the Word, or reading a book, or playing music or having a relaxed morning or evening. God calls us to give Him our stress and rest in Him.
I was reading a blog this week and really challenged by what Ann Voskamp wrote, “God doesn’t want your leftovers. God wants your love overtures, your first-overs, because He is your first love.” Are we building in time to give God our first-overs or leaving Him with the leftovers of our days? He doesn’t call us to get involved in every Christian activity--He calls us to spend time with Him and be faithful to what He is calling us to in the now.
Monica Godfrey is a Student Forgee who came to the Belfrey while pursuing her masters in modern literature at York Uni.