College student! Stop for a second! Don’t avoid this because you are busy and I write too much. Take a break for a moment and be filled up on some truth that’s relevant to you!
It’s finals week here at the University of Central Arkansas. It’s been a busy week for me, but not overbearingly so. However, if you spend more than 5 minutes on social media this week you’ll see a lot of overwhelmed, burned out students. It’s understandable and even expected by the time spring finals roll out. Through all this I’ve come to see a deeper layer beneath it all. This post is for the college student or really any student. Nonetheless, it can be truthfully applied to much more with a little work.
The all-nighter study sessions. The massive caffeine infusions. The tedious, methodical, bleary eyed, grind of reviewing the Power points, rewriting your notes, making the flash cards, memorizing the textbook(s), writing the novel sized research paper(s). They can be worth it. They are worth it for me because of Christ. That’s the key to all of it.
Would you laugh if I said that we are incredibly blessed to be able to have such burdens as those? And that though its okay to be tired and a bit pressed, there is a reason to be thankful for these kind of nights?
Look at the world. Very little of the world has opportunities to pursue dreams, callings and visions like we do. Yet you do. Maybe you don’t know what it is yet. Maybe you are certain of it. College is rare opportunity that VERY few get to experience. The purpose for college has been hijacked a bit by society, however the original purpose and values remain. You are in college and part of that means you are chasing after something bigger than most will ever get to. You have something worth pursuing intensely enough to stay up for and put in the countless hours. This is a unique opportunity in time and I promise you, it won’t last forever and when it’s gone, friends, it’s gone. Use what you’ve been given wisely.
One day all striving and chances to do such things will cease.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah” – Psalm 39:4-5
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” – James 4:14
The time will come to reflect on your life and all that you did and failed to do. You as a believer will be judged as well. This isn’t the same judgment that leads to eternal life or damnation. Nor will salvation be determined by your work at all so don’t misinterpret that. Salvation is through Christ’s redeeming work alone and not at all by any merit of your own. The measure of your reward will be determined by this judgment based on the stewardship and obedience to Christ (For a better in-depth explanation: Read this.)
See here’s the neat thing about work for us in Christ:
“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. ” – Psalm 128:1-2
This is an amazing promise to those that Christ calls his children. It means you’ll have work. Maybe not what you hoped for or expected but you will have work, that’s why you aren’t dead yet, your job isn’t finished. Have you ever spent a week doing nothing at all? Just sat around and watched the clock tick? It’s miserable. It can lead to a mental and spiritual depression because you were made to work and labor. God called it “good” before the fall. God himself works… Let me rephrase that. The Maker of all that is good, worthwhile and holy, the One who knows all, finds work worth doing.
Secondly, it’s a promise to us that we will enjoy the fruits of our labor. Will that mean it will be easy? Not necessarily or even likely. Does this mean I’ll be healthy, wealthy or happy? Again, not necessarily and for many not likely. Then what? It means that all honest work pursed for the Lord will matter in some way. Work will have an eternal significance. God will satisfy the intrinsic desire we have to labor well and cultivate in a meaningful fashion.
This does one of two things. It either makes us relieved and thankful, for we do not labor in vain or it convicts us for avoiding our responsibility to labor and to do so well.
Which leads me to this warning about your motivations to work and shirk your responsibility to work:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” – Proverbs 127:1
“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” – Proverbs 12:11
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10
So now would be a good time to stop for a second and ask yourself some tough questions. Ask yourself what your motivation is. For example, if you want to be in a medical field just to for money or recognition, those are both unworthy motives and ultimately they will not satisfy you. If it is to help others, though it is a good thing, that motivation alone will not satisfy you either. The motivation behind all goals and efforts must be Christ for there to be any true satisfaction and lasting achievement. He must be your ultimate purpose. Which means all goals must be in line with his Word.
There is a blessing, peace, joy and discipline that comes from understanding this and taking it to heart.
For me personally, I want to be able to look back when my time is done and say for all the pursuits in my life, “Yeah, I lost sleep some nights. Yeah, I pushed myself to mental, physical and even spiritual exhaustion some times. Yeah, I had moments of questioning if its worth it and fought fiercely against apathy. I was once a worthless wretch with no aspirations. Jesus paid it all, freed my soul and renewed my heart, my motivations and my pursuits. And through all these things, He was my rest, He filled me with himself when I was weak, he became the ultimate goal behind all my other goals. I ran with a joyful abandonment and focus towards the finish line, but only to cross it so I could reach Jesus waiting on the others side. And now I’m here, at labors end, satisfied not by my work but by Jesus’s. He made all my efforts “good” and worthwhile., and used them to shape me into His image. I truly started at the bottom and now I’m here. Thank you dearly, my Father.”
Relish the earned exhaustion that comes from your efforts; give thanks for them, be intentional with seeing the eternal significance behind them and keep your head high and your heart full.
For those who are unsure of their direction at the end of this semester:
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverb 16:3
For those of you up all night this week:
“Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.” – Proverbs 20:13
For those in need of mental and spiritual rest:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
For those who are anxious and worried:
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:5-7
And I’m here for any and all of you, stranger or friend, not just this week but every week. If you need encouragement, prayer, advice, or just someone to talk to just let me know.
“God has created each of us with a thirst that only He can quench. French philosopher Pascal called it a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts that only He can fill. Or as Augustine put it, “Our souls are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” Man is perpetually seeking. To whatever degree we don’t know the unseen and eternal realm; we seek answers in the seen and temporal. We look for eternal answers among temporal things. But we discover that they cannot provide them.”
“The soul of man bears the image of God; so nothing can satisfy it but He whose image it bears.”