I love my Filofax. With my week-by-week colour coded schedule I am able to scrutinise to the hour the minute details of my life and maximise my productivity across the day. It brings me satisfaction to know that everything I need to know for the day is contained in its little leather binding. It is this kind of quality that the world tells us to appreciate – organised, efficient. I even pride myself on it.
Yet, in my Filofax are my plans, my schedule, my life. It is so jam packed that there is rarely enough time to schedule God’s plans. There is definitely no time to do, what some people call, rest.
Rest: this could be a holiday, it could be sleeping for many more hours than usual, it could be doing absolutely nothing, or it could be doing the things we love most. It could be playing music, reading, coffee-ing: ultimately, relaxing. It all sounds pretty nice, really. Yet it is surprising how difficult something so natural can be. In the UK, as our high-speed lives run away with us we can find that we barely know how to rest anymore, in fact we do everything we can to avoid it because surely rest = laziness?
We live in a culture that is plagued by more. Just a bit more money, just a bit more time, just a bit more work, just a bit... more. I am student, and an English Literature undergraduate at that, which I have discovered constitutes the belief that my life consists of countless lie-ins, optional times of study, and work simply involving reading a nice little book from time to time. But my Filofax tells a different story. Arriving in York at 18 I thought I would be required to learn to be an academic, how to ace higher education, how to successfully achieve being a happy, high-achieving yet ultra-sociable student, all which required a colour coded schedule. I did not expect the first thing God would be teaching me would be to rest.
I have just returned from a crazy week at Momentum. Serving on team in one of the cafes meant that from 8am until 12am my day was full of meetings, seminars, shifts, meal times. Running between all of these I barely had time to sit down with my own thoughts, which for an extrovert like me, suited me quite nicely. Yet as I multitasked on shift in the cafe while lending an ear to a seminar titled ‘The Theology of Play’, I was reminded that God has not created us – me - to be a relentless, mechanical worker with a ‘to do’ list. In Genesis, there is no record of efficient on God’s creative checklist. Another session, ‘The Theology of Work’, echoed the reminder that God himself rested, and invites us to join him. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
But what if we don’t want rest? Because what if rest, in today’s culture, can mean lethargy, purposelessness, meaninglessness? Who would want to rest when we could be doing more? We have forgotten that rest can equate to peace, not laziness. On the seventh day God rested. Not because he needed to, but because he wanted to. And although we may not want to, it is in this seventh day mentality, that I have found God speaks to me. For me, rest is not having a sixth pyjama day in a row (my living nightmare) or watching nine episodes of New Girl back-to-back. This does not bring peace, and neither does a tightly packed Filofax schedule. But stopping. And actually, once I do stop, it isn’t half as scary to be alone with my reflections. God speaks, and it is actually quite restful, restoring, and peaceful. Who’d have thought...
As September rolls in another year of university looms. You may be becoming a student for the first year, you may be thrust into the daunting ‘real world’ (because obviously being student means you live in some parallel pretend universe), but God’s word and promises stays the same. God knows we need time out, so learn how to rest. Learn what stills your heart and listen for the still small voice that does not demand any more of you, but just you.
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Blog by Pippa Holman
Pippa is one of our wonderful students at The Belfrey. Pippa is from Cambridge, has spent part of this summer in Brazil and is a third year English Lit student at the University of York.