30 Apr To the College Student Studying for Finals
Four years ago, during my sophomore year, I was pumping my bloodstream with ungodly amounts of caffeine, defying sleep, and hating myself for how long I waited to start studying for my political science final. I feverishly crammed everything I possibly could from my textbooks into my short-term memory, and meanwhile I made little time to read my bible and fill my mind with truth. Though spending time with God was still important to me that week, my GPA had become my priority and the ruler of my agenda.
Clearly, I didn’t do finals week well. As Jesus beckoned me to be with him and trust him, I worried. A lot. I depended on myself – on my strength, my knowledge, my study methods – for my glory. And I put God on a shelf, relating to him like he was like the poli sci textbook I could ignore for some time and pick back up on my own terms.
Now that I’m a couple of years past graduation, I see how foolish this all was. I realize that finals week would have been a time I learned important lessons for the rest of my life, had I let God in to teach them to me. I wish I had seen then what I see so clearly now.
A Window Into Reality
The madness of finals week is like a window into the reality of life after college. It’s a time when the demands are high, life is chaotic and things never seem to slow down. It’s a time when you often feel fiercely inadequate to meet the responsibilities that pile up. It suddenly exposes that your entire life isn’t going to be filled with freedom and drop-of-a-hat Cook Out runs.
You will probably never have more free time in your life than you do right now in your college years. So instead of viewing the busyness of finals week as an abnormal outlier in your schedule, remember that this week is a more accurate representation of your life after college than the rest of your semester was. And think about how you hope to approach God on those hard, busy days 10 years down the road, whether you’ll be the lawyer with the crazy work schedule, or the stay-at-home mom whose kids wake you up at the crack of dawn. The way you live and seek God this week can prepare you to be steadfast in faith during those years.
God Reorients Our Lives, So Work is Worship
Because Jesus is your Lord, everything in your life now revolves around him. He isn’t just your priority; he also reorients all of your other priorities. Obedience to him is seeking to know and honor him through all things and in every season.
He tells us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all other things will be added to us. And he calls us to do everything, whether that is eating or drinking, for his glory. In other words, God intends for our lives to be radically God-centered. So your academics can be reoriented around him as well. As you take classes, consider how you can know God more through psychology or physics. And as you study for final exams, ask God to help you retain what you learned.
When I was a student, I lost sight of this. I divorced my work from my worship, either approaching my academics with laziness, as though they had no importance in the kingdom of God, or devoting all of my time and energy to my studies for my own sake. Jesus destroys these two categories. He calls us to do our work heartily, unto him and not unto men. Our work is now a means of worship. So your finals do matter, but not ultimately for your sake.
There is Grace
Like I did, have you been living for yourself and worshipping things apart from God as you finish out this semester? There is good news for you. Every day of his life, Jesus worshipped the Father perfectly in your place and did all things for his glory. At the cross, he was punished for your rebellion, taking your record of sinfulness so that he might give you his record of righteousness. And he rose from the dead, demonstrating his power and authority over sin and death. Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Friend, confess to your Father and receive the forgiveness and freedom offered to you in Christ. Abide in him this week, and study well for his glory. And please get some sleep.