written by Shannon Armstrong
Late Nights. Midnight Yell. Powell. Notecards. Ramen. Scantrons. Broken Printers (always seemed to happen right when I needed to print a final paper). Freedom. These are some of the things I think of when I think back to my college finals week. It is a time when you don’t know exactly what day it is as you watch the sun set and rise and just sit going from book to book trying to cram in every last bit of information before you are forced to sit and take a final exam that will test you on everything you ever heard or read that quarter. I remember those days, and I remember those were some of the most difficult days for me to prioritize and spend time with my Savior.
It’s so easy during this time of intense busyness and stress and tiredness to neglect our time with the Lord – to tell ourselves that “I’ll read my Bible later” or “It’s okay to miss just this one church service;” To have our prayers become late night cries of desperation as our final nears rather than deep and intimate times with the Lord; To have our devo’s become a quick browsing of a verse rather than a meditation on its meaning and significance in our lives. I was there, so I know! But aren’t we, by saying and doing these things, forgetting the person we claim to be staying up late and studying for and why we’re doing it? As believers, we say that we believe that in whatever we do, we should “work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23) and that “whether [we] eat or drink or whatever [we] do, [we] do it all for the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31), yet how can we be doing work for someone’s glory when we don’t acknowledge or spend time with them while we’re doing it? If we claim we are studying for God’s glory, then this is not a time to put your prayer life and devo’s on hold, but a time when they should be at their strongest!
These are the times we need to be running to our Savior the most to be reminded why we are doing what we’re doing and Who we are doing it for, so we can have peace in the midst of the craziness and so that sins like anxiety, idolatry and self-sufficiency don’t take over. I remember this great line Chris Gee had in his last sermon: “temptation doesn’t take a break, so why should your quiet times?” So true. Why during one of our most difficult times as we spend hours and hours of concentrated, sleepless effort preparing to take this major exam or turn in this huge final paper (North Campus represent) that could make or break our entire grade for the quarter, would we choose this time to put a hold on our spiritual life? This is the exact time that Satan –as he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”—has been waiting for as the groundwork is laid for us to become more and more focused on the world and its’ priorities and less and less focused on God and His priorities (I Peter 5:8). Instead of being easy prey, let us “be alert and sober-minded” – ready to fight and stand strong against the temptations Satan is going to try and drag us down with (being overwhelmed, undisciplined, anxious, prideful, etc.). Let us fill our minds with the realities and promises of Scripture: that we are “citizens of heaven” and our hope and value does not lie in this world (Phil. 3:20), that we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” and not for the prize of getting all A’s (Phil. 3:14), etc. Finals week doesn’t have to be a time of anxiety or spiritual dryness – it can and should be quite the opposite.
My prayer for you all this week is that you use this time as an opportunity to lean and draw closer to your Savior rather than drawing away and opening yourself up to temptation. Trust me, the finals week where I took time to remind myself of Who I was living for and why I was doing what I was doing went much better anxiety wise, etc. than the finals weeks where I lost sight of those truths because I bumped God to a lower priority. I know you guys will conquer this week and finish strong! But just remember while you’re poring through those books, filling out those Scantrons and writing those essays, to not lose sight of your Savior and the fact that you are doing all this for His glory!
As a side note, here is one of my personal go to verse I had during finals week and I hope it comforts and gives you peace as you get through this week 🙂
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 4-7