As a student worker I would normally see the summer as time to recharge, rethink and rest. But how do we navigate a summer when Zoom has made online connections easier and we may not see the usual mass exodus of students from our cities?
The life of Jesus was full of distractions, people all around him were competing for his attention. And yet, we see in Jesus’ life that he prioritised resting in God’s presence. At the end of Matthew 3, we read about Jesus’ baptism and how the first thing he did was to go into the wilderness. One version says he went into the ‘desert’, in the greek this word is erémos, meaning wilderness, deserted place, desert, desolate place, solitary place, quiet place or lonely place. The first thing Jesus did when he was baptised was to withdraw and fast and spend time in the erémos. What we see in the life of Jesus is that this place, this erémos, is not a place of weakness, but a place of strength where he would be alone with his father.
We’re told in the Bible that God created Adam on the 6th day of creation, therefore whilst God had his day of rest at the end of a week of working, this day was actually Adam’s first day. He allowed Adam to begin by resting in him. To know who we are and to be able to work (because work is not bad - God created it!) we must first rest in his presence. Spending some time in silence, being intentional about shutting off the sounds of the world, and listening to God’s gentle whisper, is absolutely crucial for us as student workers to be able to do what God has called us to do.
This will look different for everyone. Maybe you’re like me and love nature so a walk alone with God might be your erémos. Or perhaps you love to journal and so going to a coffee shop (hooray for coffee shops being open!) would be your erémos. Wherever it is, plan it in and get some time alone with your heavenly father.
Not only did Jesus spend time alone in the erémos, he also prioritised spending time with others, enjoying food and having fun together. And this is so important for us too! Think through what brings you joy and how you switch off from work. Perhaps you could plan in time to go away with some friends, or visit family, whatever it is that brings you joy!
Finally, it is so important for us to set expectations with our students and student leaders. If they know what your boundaries are going to be this summer, it will help you to switch off and rest. It also gives you an opportunity to hand over some responsibility and watch your students grow in leadership! Start having those conversations now, so that you’re able to prepare them and set expectations.
Resting in God’s presence allows us to be sustained and know who we are before we do anything. That could look like silence and solitude, and having fun with friends and family. However it looks, it is so important to plan it now so we arrive in September ready and refreshed for the year ahead!