The holiday season is chaotic. For everyone. Including university professors.
My college students are finishing up their semester, frantically writing papers and finalizing projects, hoping to simply cross the finish line into the promise of winter break’s rest.
We all experience busyness that causes us to long for rest. But what we don’t want to miss is that the work we’re accomplishing in the midst of those seasons of frenzy is actually living into and fulfilling our calling in life—to make something good of the world for God’s glory (Gen. 1:28).
The end goal is always to live into the work that God has called you to in this moment.
When we know how a story ends, we know how to read and interpret the present chapter. Because we know that Christ is ultimately victorious over the enemy and our brokenness, we can walk more confidently in the chaos and mundane in which we find ourselves.
This is crucial: if you only focus on getting to the end, you’ll miss the goodness of the process entirely.
Apart from the intervention of the Holy Spirit, the students who focus only on finishing the semester at whatever cost are likely to also be the ones working for the weekend and missing out on opportunities to see and embody the gospel at work in the here and now.
Below are a few thoughts on finding God’s grace in the midst of finishing well.
Rest to Work
Work and rest, the whole of our lives, are both supposed to be good. As I often say to my students, we ought to rest in order to work, not the other way around.
Too many students and working professionals have this backwards—they work in order to rest.
Just listen for all those experiencing a “case of the Mondays,” powering through “hump day Wednesdays,” and celebrating “Fri-yay” with choruses of “Happy Friday!”
The Christian faith, however, is premised on the promise that we don’t have to work for our salvation, the ultimate rest. But rather, as a result of our salvation, true spiritual rest, we get to work.
Rest is designed to restore us and renew us in order to send us back out to do the work He has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Ideal rest is not plopping ourselves on the couch to binge-watch Netflix or aimlessly scrolling through Instagram or Snapchat.
Instead, let’s invest in restorative Sabbatical rhythms that send us back to our work refreshed.
Schoolwork is Shaping You
If He promises to “use all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his promise” (Romans 8:28), then this current season of writing papers, finishing up final exams, and finalizing projects is not in vain.
Neither is my work as a professor, as I grade those papers and exams and move research projects forward. With the end in mind, we can more faithfully engage the season in which we find ourselves.
As Dallas Willard has said, we must first “accept the circumstances in which we constantly find ourselves in as the place of God’s kingdom and blessing. God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are.”
Tish Harrison Warren goes on to say “God is forming us into a new people. And the place of that formation is in the small moments of today.”
Can you see God’s fingerprints in the small moments of today, even in the midst of the crazy? Working hard, resting well, giving God the glory for it all?
Work and rest, my friends. For your good work displays the diligence and creativity of our Creator and your rest readily proclaims the assurance of the rest to come. This is the vision of life fulfilled.
Courtney W. Davis, Ph.D. (University of California, Santa Barbara) is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Azusa Pacific University, where she teaches and studies communication in organizations and small groups. Having fully enjoyed her collegiate experience at the University of Southern California, Courtney is passionate about equipping undergraduate students for their post-collegiate endeavors, whole-life discipleship, and reclaiming God’s redemptive vision for our work. Courtney enjoys Thursday morning coffee dates with her husband and Saturday bike rides and scootering with her two toddler boys.