Everything about human nature works against slowing down. We are wired to always be on the go and not waste time. Life as a college student is no different. Balancing your education, relationships, career and other responsibilities can be overwhelming at times. Sabbath is one tool given to us by God used to manage our busy schedules and create space to abide in him. There are practical ways we can set aside our time, but first we must establish, what is the Sabbath?
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What Is the Sabbath?
“There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:9-10 NIV
In the Old Testament, the Jewish understanding of Sabbath involved a 24-hour time of rest that stood out from the other days. They had been freed from Pharaoh’s rule and reminded by God that they were no longer slaves — slaves unallowed to stop. Sabbath rest reminded people that they were finite and had limited energy. Today, God reminds us of the same, and the Sabbath remains.
Sabbath is a 24-hour period set aside toward resting in God. It goes against the culture of hustle and instead creates a rhythm of pausing and communing with God. Your chosen day to practice Sabbath can be broken down into four categories — stop, rest, delight and worship, which can certainly be applied to life in college.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Exodus 20:8-9 ESV
The word Sabbath means “to stop.” In Genesis, God is the first to model what it looks like to stop. He worked for six days creating the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested. Even God stopped working, so we are called to do the same. This includes your job, homework, studying — even laundry, cleaning and other chores if you choose. Stopping work can be difficult if we do not plan our work around our day of Sabbath. Therefore, it is important to complete necessary tasks prior and shift your calendar if needed. Life in college can be overloaded with to-dos, but when we put the list down, we can receive the gift of Sabbath rest to its fullest.
Resting in God
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden is light.” Matthew 1:28-30 NIV
Sabbath is a form of rest; however, it is not necessarily just self-care, time off work or sleeping in. While physical rest may be part of your Sabbath, it is also resting in God and seeking rest for our souls. We can do this by removing distractions and spending quiet time alone in the presence of the Lord. Perhaps, praying, going on a drive or spending quiet time in nature. Find what brings you true rest.
“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.” Psalm 112:1 NIV
Sabbath is not just a commandment or religious duty, but a life-giving day of delight and celebration. Your day of Sabbath is not designed to be boring and dull, meaning you can still participate in the activities that bring you joy. The entire 24-hour period also does not require you to be solely alone. Some ideas include going on a hike and enjoying nature, reading a new book, going to your favorite coffee shop or hosting a game night with your close college friends. God wants you to delight in him and delight in what he has given you.
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psalm 95:6 NIV
Early Christians called Sabbath “the Lord’s day” because in addition to stopping work, resting in God and delighting, we are meant to worship God during our Sabbath. It is a day unto God himself. There are many ways you can worship God, such as meditating on Scripture, listening to worship music or journaling your prayers. While Sabbath does benefit us, it is ultimately designed to bring glory and honor to his name.
With constant responsibilities and activities in college, one can quickly begin to feel burnt out. Sabbath rest is a way to prevent this from happening and remind us of the character of God. If you desire to learn more about resting in God, consider attending GCU’s Spiritual Formation workshops or learn more about GCU's spiritual life offerings.
Approved by the local outreach coordinator of the Office of Spiritual Life on Oct. 31, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.