“People in a hurry never have time for recovery. Their minds have little time to meditate and pray so that problems can be put in perspective. In short, people in our age are showing signs of physiological disintegration because we are living at a pace that is too fast for our bodies.” — Archibald Hart in Adrenaline and Stress. Quoted by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (InterVarsity Press, 2005), italics in Calhoun.
This summer a mix of graduate students and medical students part of the Christian Medical SocietyÂ /Â CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine are digging into material from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun‘s Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (InterVarsity Press, 2005) and Jerry Bridges’ Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate (NavPress, 2007). Last week I had the opportunity to lead a discussion on the spiritual discipline of rest (Calhoun, 63-65).
First we read Psalm 62. Then we shared our understanding/definition for rest, with some focus upon campus context: a place of security where one can let their guard down and not be disrupted by the hard realities of graduate/professional school. I particularly appreciated the stories of finding rest by seeking the face of God during the exhausting times when trials came in waves encompassing the whole person, i.e., mental, spiritual, emotional, and spiritual. This is particularly challenging when there is a confluence of on/off-campus life (including family). Seeking the face of God included . . .
- regular, personal time in the Word/prayer
- ‘debriefing’ with close friends — keep an eye on the Spiritual Friendship series on the Emerging Scholars Network Facebook Wall.
- a fellowship not only with others facing similar life/vocational struggles, but also hearing/interacting with mentors (those who have gone before them)
- inter-generational local congregations.
Several gave particular emphasis to the rest found in the peace that one can’t do it all — a consideration of expectations and to some degree a rejection of perfectionism(!) — referencing Paul in II Corinthians 12.
â€œMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.â€ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christâ€™s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christâ€™s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — II Corinthians 12:9-10
After digging into several reflection questions by Calhoun, we concluded by reading Psalm 63 and praying.
Bonus: Yes, one of Calhoun’s questions was What exhausts you or keeps you working past your limits? (65)
- When working past your limits do you find your rest in God alone?
- Do you cling to God as your rock and salvation?
- Do you, as the woman the well, find Christ to be the living water in a dry and parched land (home, higher ed, community)?
Let’s end here for today and I’ll continue on this topic in a future post. In mean time, please share your responses to some/all of the questions offered in the post.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!