You close your laptop, toss your textbooks to the side and breathe that sigh of relief that signifies the end of another academic year. You can feel the physical weight of all the material you had to process throughout exam season, gigabytes of storage crammed into your brain. Looking around, you wonder, ‘what now’? Exams are over and the stress that came with them is ebbing away.
What does rest look like now? A quick power nap between all-nighters? Binging your favourite TV series all over again?
Hopefully the first option is already out of the window, but I’d love to share with you some ideas for rest that go beyond watching Netflix. This wisdom is found in the book of Psalms in the Bible – sometimes called the songbook of the Bible.
So where can we find rest? At the start of Psalm 23:1-3, King David writes, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ King David sees himself – and by extension, us – as the sheep and the Lord God as our provider and protector. He goes on to say that because the Lord is his shepherd, he lacks nothing. We then see the care and consideration that the Lord has for His sheep,
‘He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.’
It is the Lord who instigates our provision and care. He knows His flock well. When we need rest, we can go to our good shepherd who is able to satisfy our needs.
In the following verses, we read –
‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.’
Spend a moment dwelling on those truths. Read it through again. Ask the Lord to help you believe these truths. Now read it again.
You may feel as though you’re going into another world this summer. Your year may have been one of making progress in your degree, deepening friendships, helping in church and CU.
Maybe going back to your hometown feels like you’re being plucked out of fresh soil that you’ve grown deep roots in only to be replanted in the pot you outgrew 12 months ago. For some of you, that might be a welcome return and the shift doesn’t resemble anything like a dark valley but rather an all-inclusive family trip to Tenerife mid-August. Or maybe you’re staying in your university town to work while your friends have all dispersed over the world and you’re worried about facing loneliness. No matter what your summer looks like, you can have hope in the knowledge that the Lord our God is with us. You can be comforted by the guiding of His rod and staff as He leads and protects us.
Our Good Shepherd doesn’t only fulfil our need for rest as individuals, or during term time when we’re an active member of CU. No – He fulfils our needs in each area of our lives. The summer break can be weeks – even months – of opportunity to reconnect.
The final verse of Psalm 23 says,
‘Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’
This is a great encouragement to continue to grow as you have been through this year. If you’re anything like me, at times your plate gets full and you feel like your personal devotional time needs more care and structure. Now is a great time to carve out time and refine it.
After my first year of university and the whirlwind of my first uni exam season, I took time to relax with friends and reflect on where I was and how I wanted to reconnect. Something I found helpful between my first and second years was to implement ‘first fruits’ into my mornings. I would get up and devote the first portion of my day to getting to know God more through His word, taking the time to study it and worship Him. First fruits gave me a firm foundation to stand on as I went into the following academic year. Perhaps it’s something you could try, starting today?
In this blog I’ve talked about taking time to relax, reflect and reconnect through the Lord who gladly calls us to Himself to provide rest for our souls. Whatever this process looks like for you, I pray that you will experience the true rest that only the Lord provides and enjoy the summer showers and rays ahead.
This blog was written by Esther Fordwor, Relay Worker in Leeds.
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