Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rest for the Weary, Water for my Soul

As I type this, hymns from Asbury's bell tower drift softly over campus, a warm light covers the lawn outside my window, and a mason jar full of fresh flowers from a friend sits beside me.
As I type this, I am hunched over my computer, clinging to a cup of coffee, and wondering how I'm going to get all of my work done. I am exhausted, unshowered, and unrested, having stayed up until 1:30 working on a paper.

The bits of good and bad in life run together strangely. I love school and my friends and my majors. I love taking on writing, design and acting projects. I'm so glad to have the hope of going to graduate school next year. And yet, some days I wish I could throw my hands up in the air, leave it all behind, and take a long nap.

There's a bit of irony in all of this. I'm designing posters on the need for a Sabbath, but I haven't taken one in who-knows-how-many years. I'm writing a Christian Theology paper, but I haven't had taken quiet time with God in the last three days. I consider my friends a relief from schoolwork, but taking the time to invest in those relationships often makes school harder.

And there's no easy answer for this busyness. It's not mere overcommitment. Yes, I need to say no when people ask me to take on new projects, and I often do. But my current predicament is the result of overlapping due dates in my courses, something I couldn't have predicted or prevented. Over the next week and a half, I have two papers, three tests, and two college fairs on my plate, and when those are over, I'll be able to sleep again.

I believe that life moves through rhythms. The present is not an absolute indicator of the future. My worry is not an indicator of reality. And my performance (Oh my soul, rejoice!) is not an indicator of my value. I believe that I am God's, that He has ordained a path for me and that He will not let me fall although He may let me fail.

In chapel yesterday we sang a song that references Isaiah 40:31: “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I wanted to cry as we sang because I so need my strength to be renewed. I want to run and not grow weary. I want to walk and not be faint. But then I realized this—the verse does not say, “Those who hope in performance will renew their strength” or “those who try really hard” or “those who are great at time management.” No, those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. And I'm not sure that I've been doing that. It's like trying to run a race without water or fly an airplane without fuel.

Oh Lord, let me hope in You. I am imperfect and foolish and selfish, but let me hope in You and You alone.

I believe that He will renew my strength, will let me walk and not be faint, and will let me love Him more than I love my schoolwork. I will finish these tests, I will finish these papers, and the clouds of busyness will part. But none of these things are ultimate. I need a different kind of peace, and so, I am holding on these words from Josh Ritter, an agnostic who often captures the beliefs of Christianity more fully and more beautifully than those of us who have grown up in church:

I am assured, yes. I am assured, yes.
I am assured that peace will come to me
A peace that can, yes, surpass the speed, yes
Of my understanding and my need.


Father, as it is your nature always to be merciful, grant me a peace that passes understanding. Grant me access to Your love and to Your light. Grant me Yourself.

Amen.

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