On the evening of the first Sunday in the spring semester if my freshman year of college, the resident assistant led a floor fellowship meeting. I remember us going around the room, mentioning highlights from our winter breaks, and meeting two new residents. He then gave us a challenge for the semester: observe the Sabbath by refraining from doing homework on Sundays.
I was a music major in college, so a substantial portion of my homework was my practicing. In addition to my primary instrument, I also had various secondary instruments to practice, so practicing required many hours each week. It was easiest for me to complete my practice hours in the music buildings, and since all the academic buildings were closed on Sundays, I had already been refraining from that particular part of my homework on the Sabbath when my RA gave this challenge.
Upon returning to my room after floor fellowship, I thought about what completely taking this challenge would mean. On the surface, it simply meant that I would not do written homework on Sundays, either. But beyond that, it would mean a little extra discipline to get all my weekend homework done by the end of the day on Saturday. I decided to go for it.
I am proud to say that I virtually succeeded in not doing any homework on Sundays for the duration of my college years. I also extended my observance of the Sabbath to include any work for the on-campus jobs I had during college. Sometimes it was necessary to do some work on a Sunday, generally when I had collaborative projects and schedule constraints of other group members necessitated meeting on Sunday, but on the whole, every Sunday was been a day off for me.
That does not mean that I sat around all day watching movies. I attended church in the morning and then spent the afternoon refreshing myself for the week ahead. I usually managed to get a nap in after lunch, and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, sometimes with friends and sometimes just by myself. I might read for personal pleasure, listen to music, or journal. One thing I always liked to do on Sunday evenings, generally not too long before turning in for the night, was go for a walk along the campus perimeter. During the week, I certainly went to many different places on campus, but I was usually more concerned with where I was going than the actual journey.
America is a very active nation. The reputation of New York City as “the city that never sleeps” might well be applied to the whole country. I am not certain that this is the best inclination. Hard work is very noble, and I am sure that it pleases the Lord when we spend our time in our studies and jobs. But we would do well to remember that God Himself rested at the end of the creation week, and that He commanded the fledgling nation of Israel to observe the Sabbath. Even construction of the Tabernacle halted on the Sabbath (Exodus 35).
I challenge you, particularly if you are a college student, to take what one might call the Sabbath Challenge. Refrain from anything related to your studies or job on Sunday, and instead focus on worshipping, relaxing, and preparing yourself for the week ahead. If you are a church employee or in some other job that requires you to be on duty on Sundays, pick a different day for observing a day of rest. Try it for at least a month.