Opinion

Are you finishing well, or sprinting to the end?

The end of the year is coming. You can visualize it in your mind; the chalk of the white finish line becomes clearer and nearer with each passing weekend.

The temptation of the new 8-week session is to sprint the last leg of the journey. Completing schoolwork with efficiency is to be admired, but don’t let the busyness of the new system sneak up on you.

Americans live in a culture in which education is increasingly being treated as a check list rather than a lifelong process. (ACTs, anyone?)

But, what is meant by the often-quoted aphorism, “Don’t let school interfere with your education?”

Spirituality

As the number of mandatory student chapels and growth group sessions dwindle, Grace students should focus on improving their honesty with God. My mom once asked me, “Mary Ellen, what makes believers think that they can wear masks before other people and put up walls in human interactions, but expect to be vulnerable when they come before God?” That question has stuck with me since early high school.

I know that my own personal (and very American) tendency is to become goal-oriented. That motivation isn’t isolated to career and academics, but carries over into my spiritual performance. I think it’s safe to assume that I am not alone in that struggle. Western worship music and Christian self-help books are riddled with lyrics and chapters concerning “God’s plan for us,” complete with references to Proverbs 3:5 and Jeremiah 29: 11.

Christians finish well by starting well. Begin your devotions with vulnerability in prayer. Some of us have been spiritually crippled by the fear of our secret temptations and personal demons. The apostle Paul, who when asked by Jesus if he wanted to walk away from the truth of his ministry, exclaimed, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68). We should bring our lack of faith to the Lord; for who other than Christ can heal us?

Relationally

What makes Grace College campus unique is its tight-knit community. Every fall and summer, campus goes through the process of acculturating incoming students and saying goodbye to those graduating.

How do we make the most of our friendships with the time we have left? At the beginning of the year, Interim Chaplain Roger Peugh referred to Grace community as a  “huddle.”

Teammates form a huddle. Believers are united in their battle against the spiritual forces of this world (Ephesians 6:12). The commitment Grace students have to one another should be consistent and long-suffering. Students need to be awake to the spiritual battle being fought. The church can’t afford to sleep through it.

Physically 

Don’t get me wrong. The spiritual life isn’t only about difficulties, persecution, and asceticism. What talents and blessings have been given to you that you can enjoy? For “there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil” (Eccles. 2:24). Do you want sharp, fresh clothing? Go shopping. Do you want to lose 10 pounds? Start that diet. Want to date that person in Alpha you’ve been making awkward eye contact with for months? Go for it. And whether you succeed or fail, enjoy the ride.

Mary Ellen Dunn | Staff Writer | dunnm@grace.edu

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