3 Ways to Be Distinctive in Exam Season
It’s exam season. The libraries are full, conversations are tense… and amidst the rising stress (and caffeine) levels, it’s easy to forget that we have a God who promises peace.
And I realise that something about my rushed work schedule and panicky conversations doesn't fully reflect the sovereignty of God in my life. I’m quick to start relying on my own efforts: how many hours of work can I fit in today? Am I doing as much as everyone else? How would I cope with the embarrassment of failure?
These thought patterns come when I focus on myself and forget that I have a Father who is mighty and gives rest. Obsessing over competence and productivity mean that I’m barely acknowledging God’s hand over my life, and I'm falling very short of glorifying Him.
I'd love this to change. I think there’s something so powerful about demonstrating to the world that there is something bigger to live for than what we can achieve on our own, especially in times of stress and worry, not just in spite of.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."
These two verses take my worries and combat them with the permanent and supernatural love of our Father. Instead of working because I’m scared of failure and craving success, I can work because I know I’m defined as a child of God, regardless of what I do/don't achieve. In Him, stress is met with peace, fear is met with comfort, uncertainty is met with promise.
So, how can we be distinctive? How can we point people to Jesus in stressful and busy times? I want to start practicing Proverbs 3:5-6 day after day, making it habitual to look to God above the things of this world.
1. Trusting in God from the bottom of my heart
I'm not very good at trusting God with all my heart - and when the things in life pile up, I know my faith can turn into more of a word then an all-hoping, all-praying, real faith. I want to work on having real faith, in trusting God at the worst times as well as the best. This means that if the future appears unclear, or my failings seem overwhelming, I don't need to despair but instead I can fall back on God's never-failing love.
2. Learning to stop relying on myself
This is something I am even WORSE at: surrendering the ups and downs of my life completely to God and learning not to do things in my own strength. Even as I learn more about God's power and sovereignty - I still find it difficult to be at peace, and my anxiety often gets the better of me as I aim for perfection in everything. So - especially in the context of success and work - this is something else I'd love to incorporate more into my life: total dependance. Because the more I recognise my weakness, the more I realise God's greatness and His gracious love for me in all seasons of my life.
3. Acknowledging Him in everything I do
I know that I hadn’t ever really thought about how my approach to studying and busyness might reflect the amount of trust I was placing in God (and equally the amount that I hadn’t quite surrendered up to Him) until one of my first conversations with Jessie - one of our lovely writers, and an inspiring friend in many ways!
I asked Jessie how she was finding work and exams and I remember being so struck by her answer: yes, often she found herself worrying like everyone else – but actually she was trying to be more peaceful so that she would be pointing people to Jesus, knowing that we aren’t in control but He is. Jessie is our example today of how to live out a little of Proverbs 3:5-6! We can and should acknowledge God in all our ways - including our approach to studying.
To see somebody falling back on God's provision and grace rather than their own understanding is refreshing, attractive and countercultural. Wouldn't it be amazing to be known as girls that were different in some way; our lives recognisably characterised by God's peace? So, particularly in the difficult and chaotic seasons of life, remember to continually turn to God and ask that you would know His peace, that you might continue pursuing something higher than the things of this world.
For His peace surpasses all understanding, and our lives are in the hands of His love everlasting.