Being Rooted in Jesus
Whether observed at summits, retreats, conferences and/ or church services, the Sabbath for me is a day in which I can without guilt soak in the pleasantries of nature and glorify the Creator for His work. The Lord’s Sabbath is something I look forward to each and every week for rejuvenation. In the past, others had asked me, “What is this Sabbath that you keep and why?” I was never quite able to explain it; I wasn't able to express why I was so happy to keep it and why it was a major event to have present in my life instead of a Friday night out. My words did no justice to the overwhelming love, peace and wholesomeness I feel on that day. A day to solely speak, act and think about what Christ did and is doing for me, and reflect on His humility, kindness and His perfect righteousness.
I would end up giving historical/biblical reasons saying that the Sabbath is from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset and as part of the 10 commandments God gave I am to do no work of my own on the seventh day. I described it as a day to commemorate the first six days that He took to make all of creation and the seventh day that He took as His day of rest. While this was all true it still didn't seem too appealing to an outsider looking in. I’ve never heard it described as I did at the Collegiate Summit by Darlye Innocent during the Saturday ministry spotlight as an “oasis in time.”
The Sabbath is a day that I can check out of the non-stop stream of consciousness of my mind and have a deep connection with this almighty, supreme and all-knowing being. It is intentional quality time with God, who consciously chose to withstand sacrificial pain and heartbreak after heartbreak just to be with me. God wants more than anything to speak to you and me. He wants to hold us in His arms and connect with us on a deeper level rather than the vain and empty greetings we give Him as we rush out of bed to start our day and when we trudge our way back to bed, too tired to even think or have a real conversation. The Sabbath is a one-on-one pre-scheduled meeting for the both of you to discuss your current state, your growth and roots in Christ. More than anything, the Sabbath is truly an oasis, that fertile spot in the desert where both you and I can find living water to refill our spirits.
That Sabbath morning at the Tufts University Interfaith Center we had Sabbath school which consisted of three classes: how to serve the community, how to have a stronger devotional life and how to conduct a bible study. The class that I took part in was how to study the bible. Andrew Innocent, the president of STRIDE gave the 5 C’s on how to study the bible:
(1) Communion - Bible study is about communion with God. It is a time to learn about Him, and to converse and reason with Him.
(2) Concrete - Examine your personal character and gain knowledge from those in the bible who went through this same/similar thing. For example, you might look at Daniel, Jacob, Esther, Hannah or just the Proverbs 31 woman.
(3) Create - Use your sanctified imagination to paint a mental picture. Do not force your imagination on the passage, rather experience it. Three tips to help you create is to:
(a) observe- what are the sights, sounds, verbs, who is speaking, when and where is this happening?
(b) interpret- what does the context mean?
(c) apply- what are the lessons to be learned? What should you do or not do?
(4) Concentrate - Concentrate on the thoughts that God has for you, meditate on a verse or more throughout the day, month and year to keep yourself rooted and present in Christ. Spend time deciphering the scripture’s depth and width, dwell in it.
(5) Christ-centered - Bible study is not just about gaining scriptural knowledge, it is about getting to truly know Jesus Christ, who is word incarnate. Bearing fruit and living in the word is only by the grace of God. You have to be willing to SEARCH, GROW and SURRENDER to God, as your Lord and loving Father. Bible study is about submitting your will to Him, the word.
The sermon by Feldini Laloi discussed how to take root in Christ and submit to His will. I learned that in order for us to carry out our ministry for Christ we have to be rooted in Him. When your roots are deepened in Christ there's not a single thing you need to worry about. The sermon revealed that sometimes God will take you through an uncomfortable zone to get you to a more comfortable zone. That time period is an opportunity for us to learn how to be comfortable in Him. Sometimes, God will blindfold you to see if you will follow him. When we are comfortable in Christ and follow Him regardless of the raging seas and storms in our lives the Lord will provide and He will bless you.
As the Father says: “Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” Matthew 6: 31- 33. God wants you to have faith in Him and trust that as your heavenly Father He will take care of you. The phases of discomfort in your life is a period of refinement to mold, shape and grow you into Him. In those uncomfortable hard moments, when the will of life is low and when you feel like He’s not listening, or that He may have went on vacation, stay rooted in Him. Grow downward so you can be rooted, grow inward so God can use you, grow upward so that you can be built up and grow outward so that you may be a blessing to others still hesitating on their calling.
As college students we can get caught up in the whole process of getting a degree and graduating so much so that we forget about God and the bigger picture. We can get so overwhelmed with our studies that we forget whose children we are. At the summit, I learned that a degree is not solely academic, it heavily involves God. It is a time to take up our individual crosses and walk and enlighten others through campus ministry. A degree is about reflecting God in your chosen path. College is about self-discovery and asking God what your purpose on earth is. What does He see for you? Life is about displaying Christ in every nugget of our lives, whether it be in our majors at school, our careers, our friendships or our family lives.
In my beginning years of college, I struggled to manage the Sabbath and my studies. I thought I couldn’t be in this club, have this job and take these classes and still keep my spiritual life afloat with God as number one priority. As I have grown and matured along the way I’ve come to realize that the reason I was so overwhelmed was because I didn’t allow God to be a part of my academics. God has humbled me since then in showing me that I have an advocate in Christ. Working in my own strength was unproductive, I needed Him to uplift me. I needed to have faith in Him, I needed to put Him first and know that shall be given onto me according to His will. Now as an upperclassman I don’t stress as much as I used to, I do my best and I continue to praise God and if doors close or open along the way I accept it as God speaking to me and doing His work in my life. I don’t worry as much as I used to because God proclaimed that as he provided for the lesser creatures of the earth He will provide for me. I’ve learned to work with Him and through Him, I now ask Him as I would my own earthly father, what, when and how I should do things. I talk to God throughout the week and on the Sabbath we have a deep sit down and He lets me know what He intends for me and how I can better reflect him.
After the sermon discussed how to be rooted in Christ, we were all able to socialize, take part in potluck and display our love for Christ to others. The lunch was a delicious vegan menu of tofu, rice, fresh vegetables and soup. While I sat and ate I was able to get acquainted with other young people passionate about God. After lunch, we separated into groups to live out the Sabbath. We expressed the love of Christ to homeless people by giving them care packages with self-care items and had conversations with and distributed bible tracts to the students of Tufts University. We asked them to fill our poster board with questions they would ask God and to share what they were thankful for.
People responded positively to the idea of being able to ask God something. Some were lost for words and hadn’t ever thought of what to ask an all-powerful, all-knowing being and shied away from it while others were simply overwhelmed. It was evident that having to stop and think about deeper things provoked them and fired a train of thoughts within them as they walked away. As for those who answered, they were heavily concerned about the moral state of the world, the world’s aftermath and whether or not they were doing the right thing in their lives.
These questions and many others consume the minds of people. It is of our nature to be curious, to yearn for more depth and for ultimate happiness. More than anything, I have come to learn that there is a void within each of us that we seek to fill and that void, as many have come to realize, cannot be filled with the temporary riches of this life. It is no coincidence that the void is God-shaped. God is love and the way to eternal happiness, which we all seek. God is the word (the bible) incarnate and is the answer to all of our shortcomings. God is the water to our dry, deserted lives, He is our fountain, our well, and very much so our oasis.