I sat in the pews of my college's chapel and sang the words to a popular-at-the-time Hillsong United song: With everything, with everything, we will shout for your glory! I was singing the words, and I was meaning them.
(A picture from my sophomore year of college LOL)
I gained so much from my college experience: wonderful friends, a solid Bible & Spanish education, and a bomb pastor husband (though I swore I'd never marry a pre-seminary major. They were too know-it-all-y). We were required to go to chapel every day unless we wanted to use one of the eight "skips" we were allowed each semester. I loved many of the speakers, but some of my favorite chapels sermons were given by the president at the time, Dr. Brown. He taught us what it meant to love God, to be right before Him, and to be on mission for the Kingdom of God. Each week, I was challenged as I pondered what it would look like to literally give Him everything.
During my time at Cedarville - in classes and in chapel - there was an emphasis on becoming more like Christ in our character and service. We were taught how to defend our faith and think critically about what we believed since our beliefs are the roots of our thoughts and actions. We were taught about serving the Kingdom of God in radical ways, loving the least of these, and becoming less so He could become more.
There was less emphasis on rest, though, at least that I can remember. I'm forever grateful for an institution that instilled in me a desire and passion to give my all for Christ and to be a missionary right where God planted me. But rest? Stopping the mission and surrendering what God had started in me to finish the work? I left Cedarville with a mission but lacked a plan for how to stay on that mission without burning out, giving up, or leaving my faith altogether.
Over the last couple of years, I have felt the joy that used to flow freely through my veins dissipate. It has felt like there's a leak somewhere and I can't figure out where it is. And as the joy diminishes, my anxiety rises, making me believe that I'm not doing enough. The absence of joy and the presence of anxiety is not a happy mixture for me or for my family. It equals a lot of misunderstanding, confusion, and further anxiety. It turns me into a people-pleasing machine instead of an authentic, beloved human.
How'd I get here? It's a mixed bag: a helping personality, a people-pleasing tendency, and a lack of rest. Add into the mix the fact that my husband and I became parents to teenagers before we were 30 years old through adoption and it becomes less fuzzy why my anxiety is high.
These days, I'm trying to find my way back to rest. Jubilee is the name of a year of rest that took place after seven cycles of Sabbatical years (so about every fifty years). During this year, prisoners were set free and debts were forgiven, a practice that pointed to the rest that Jesus himself offered the world. Within the 50 years, there were Sabbath years (every 7 years, they'd allow the land to rest) and Sabbath days (every 7 days, they stopped all work). But somewhere along the way, the Israelites decided that they didn't want or need the rest because they were like God. They sent themselves back into the chaos and disorder and lack of rest until Jesus comes and begins his "public mission" on a Sabbath day, pointing to the future hope of the "ultimate Jubilee" of Heaven.
I can relate to the Israelites.
I wrote a couple of years ago about how my calling led to burnout, regarding my job as a teacher. I resigned in 2020 after COVID revealed how I could live my life very differently, be less stressed, and be a more present and attuned mom. But then, once the world went back to normal, I found ways to inch back to a state of chronic stress. It's like I don't feel comfortable with rest and so I find ways back to the chaos.
I love following Jesus because I love that we don't just live in a world where we hope for the future, but we can also hope for the now. We get to participate in His Kingdom now, enjoy His rest now, and experience His presence now if only we will exit the chaos and enter into His rest.
We have had quite a year of setbacks and chaos - both external and internal. And so, I'm actively choosing to enter into a season of rest, of Jubilee. I am asking God to set me free from the chaos that has ruled in my heart. I am asking for God to provide for us and forgive us our debt. I am asking for God to allow me to enter into his rest, as my true, authentic self.
If the King of Glory, who is establishing His everlasting, wonderful Kingdom here on earth through us, needed rest, so do I. And I will rest in Him, the only One who can grant true rest. I'm looking forward to my Jubilee.
Some truth for ya:
2 Chronicles 20:17
"But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord's victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!"
Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of ou who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."