It’s that time of the semester again. Finals week is readily approaching. We’re caught between the stress of what’s in store for the next couple of weeks and the excitement for the utter relief we will experience when it’s all over and we’re headed to wherever summer (or Christmas Break–depending on when this is being read) is taking us. We’re so close, but our to-do list makes us feel so far away.
With the stress of end-of-semester culminating, the Lord has, once again, shaken me with His perspective.
Our society in general, but specifically college and high school campuses, has romanticized exhaustion. We’ve elevated it as a status achieved by the most-involved, elite students. Whether we’ve realized it or not, we question what someone’s doing wrong when they have time for eight hours of sleep at night–they’re not studying enough, they’re not involved in enough extra-curricular activities, they don’t have a social life.
We view our campus as a competition between students. Who can do the most? Who can get the best grades? We’ve started viewing our classmates as competitors rather than peers seeking to achieve the same goal.
“Exhausted. Stressed. Ready for summer.”
This is likely a conversation that has taken place in your life recently. Our passing conversations have become a time to glorify our exhaustion. Our stress level has become a default topic of discussion.
We’ve taken our eyes off of God and focused them on ourselves.
Where is the Lord in our stress, busyness, and exhaustion? While we may be relying on Him for strength, are we really seeking His will? Is everything we’re doing for Him?
Our Lord is a God who desires rest for His children. So much so that He devoted an entire day of the Sabbath for resting in His presence.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
God does not romanticize exhaustion. In fact, He tells us that it comes when we are relying on ourselves and not His Spirit. In His presence, we are at peace, our souls are renewed, and we are able to be still and rest.
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 62:5)
If we are to come to God and find rest in Him, shouldn’t this transcend into our attitude towards school as well? Shouldn’t we be at rest with our studies, our honor societies, our clubs, our ministry activities? Shouldn’t we be allowing the peace of God that transcends all understanding to permeate all areas of our life?
Growing up, there have been teachers who have encouraged us to do our best and make something of ourselves. While well-intentioned, this encouragement has fostered us to view education as a personal achievement and a means to better ourselves and our futures. We get caught up in doing our best and achieving the next great thing and take for granted the blessing that education is. We are focused on life after graduation and lose sight of the fact that our education is not for us, but for the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, your degree is important, but it is merely a means through which the Lord will use you do work for His Kingdom.
The actual content we learn in the classroom is not what’s going to shake the world with His Gospel, but the way we approach our career is. No level of understanding of molecular equations, 18th century European history, or financial trends will break the chains of sin off the world, but sharing the truths of the Bible in your workplace will.
So be thankful for the gracious gift of education that you have been given. Do your best and never take it for granted. But never lose sight of the greater picture into which you’re being woven–a picture of a depraved world thirsting for the love of Jesus. Look at your time on your campus not as a Hunger Games for the highest GPA or most impressive resume, but as a unique opportunity to love and serve. Look at it as a time to develop your strength of character and commitment. Look at it as a time to dig more deeply into who you are in Christ, and let who He is in you pour out onto those around you.
Don’t let the end of the semester go by in a blur of to-do lists and all-nighters. Please don’t miss the opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a friend or stranger, love someone well, or share the life-changing news of the Gospel.
Remember that your education is not ultimately for you.
Remember to seek rest in the Lord in all facets of your life.
Remember that your worth is not found in your level of exhaustion, but in who you are as His child.