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Editorial: Sabbath keeping

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When’s the last time you had a 24-hour block of time when you didn’t think about school, didn’t think about work and didn’t read a single email?

I’m doing that this Sunday, and I’d love to have you join me. (And yes, it’s possible — even for us busy college students.)

Usually, when we think of the fourth commandment, “Honor the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” we think about two things: going to church and those rules our parents had to keep a long time ago.

Our parents tell stories about how they had to go to church every Sunday — both services, of course — and how they weren’t allowed to watch TV or do homework or play with friends in the afternoon.

But of course, that was back then, and times have changed. Our Sundays are usually filled with catching up on homework, squeezing in hours at a job or cramming for a Monday test.

Even if we had similar rules when we were little, we’re college students now. “Honor the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” for us often means trying to make it to LOFT at night before we start writing that paper.

But I think there’s more to this commandment than squeezing a church service into our busy schedules.

I’ve done Sabbath-keeping for the last two semesters — meaning no homework, no studying, no Chimes and no emails for 24 hours. You can ask my staff: I am completely off the map when it comes to Chimes.

And I’ve found that this provides a new rhythm and life to my week. It gives me a break each week to rest in God’s presence, spend time in creation or catch up with an old friend.

Now of course, having a 24-hour block of free time every week comes with a price.

A lot of us have busy schedules, and my 16 credits and demanding schedule here at Chimes don’t cooperate well with this goal. I usually have to give up either my Friday or Saturday night to get my homework done.

But it’s the most important spiritual discipline in my life. For 24 hours each week, I take off my student hat, I take off my editor in chief hat and I take off my work-a-holic hat.

What’s left over is something unsettling and beautiful at the same time: my true identity in Christ.

It’s beautiful because for one day, it’s not possible for me to define myself by anything but Jesus Christ and who I am in him. I’m reminded that God’s peace should rule my life and that my identity is found in his love — not in the stuff that keeps me up until 1 a.m. during the week.

But it’s also unsettling because it puts everything I do during the week into perspective. And let me tell you, it’s a wake-up call.

It screams at me, loud and clear: I am not the hats I wear. My identity isn’t staked in a successful student newspaper or getting an A on my paper. My core identity is a child of God, and I enjoy resting in that every Sunday.

It also reminds me why I wear the hats I wear, as well as what — and who — I ultimately wear them for: not myself, not Calvin College, not this newspaper, not my future, but for God.

Join me this Sunday. After all, we were made for this.

About the Author

Ryan Struyk

Ryan Struyk was the Chimes editor in chief for fall 2013. He's a senior studying mathematics and political science. Being a journalist means being both student and teacher of the world, and that’s why his job is the best one out there.

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