{School's Out for Summer} - Jeff and Alyssa

photo-24Well, it’s that time of year- spring blooms, fresh breeze, sunny days-and finals. Oh yes, finals. Maybe you’re in high school– stressed about your AP tests looming in the air; overwhelmed knowing it’s important how you do in order to get into a good college, and get a decent scholarship. Maybe you’re in college, and stressed about doing well in order to keep your scholarships, or wanting to score high to get a “summa cum laude” or to get into the graduate program you’ve had your heart set on for years. Maybe you need that good grade in order to stay afloat and not have to repeat a grade.

…Or maybe you’re just an over achiever like I was in the realm of academics. (Or perhaps you’re super smart like my husband, not having a care in the world because you’ll know you’ll be fine just winging it! Oh to be you!)

Wherever you find yourself, finals can be daunting—you can leap with joy because you know the end is near- “Schools out for summer!”-but there’s a huge hurdle to overcome first.

As I was thinking about you this week, I thought of 4 things that helped me as I took final after final back in the day:

1. Persevere- “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Paul here is talking about the end of his earthly ministry, but there is still truth to apply in this verse. The Lord wants us to finish well. To not quite, give up, or toss in the towel. He wants us to keep going until the end. So sweet one, take heart. The end is near. You are so close! You just have this one hurdle to overcome until you’re done! Keep working hard. Keep studying. Keep learning. You’re almost done!

2. Rely on Your Mighty Savior “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Finals can be daunting. Tests in general always caused my blood pressure to rise! And if you’re finals effect something important for you (ie college, scholarships, etc.) it can be extremely overwhelming. But take heart. God is with you in this. He goes before you, He goes behind. He is your HELP. He is your shade, your salvation, & your refuge. You are not alone in this. He knows your heart, your fears, your stress, your specific tests and circumstances. He is your Shepherd and will lead you through this. You don’t have to muster up the strength, courage and energy on your own. He is right by your side, wanting to walk through this with you- you need only to ask.

3. Give thanks- I know, you may think I’m crazy! “Give thanks for finals!? Say what!?” But really.

“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:18

“Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!” Psalm 95:2

Although finals are rough—let’s be honest—they stretch us and challenge us in ways we’d probably be okay to do without. But just as working out is often hard, we know it’s for our good because we’re growing muscle & stamina. This trial is being used for your good- it’s putting you in an uncomfortable situation in order to lead you to Jesus and cause you to rely on Him. That’s something to be thankful for! And when we give thanks, we are ushered into His presence. We can see God’s goodness and faithfulness. Finals are something to give thanks for- 1. It shows that summer is soon here! 2. We have the opportunity to learn and grow in knowledge—and as a lady, that’s a huge blessing. A lot of women around the world don’t have the opportunity to earn an education. It’s also a time to reflect on this past year, and give thanks for all that God has done in your life.

4. Trust Jesus with the outcome- If you are stressed, or fearful, ask yourself why? What’s the root of it? Sis, what does the Lord require of you? What pleases Him? That’s what matters. He wants you to trust Him, to rely on Him, and turn to Him to carry you through. He wants you to work hard, to do all you can, but then to leave the end result in His hands. He doesn’t say that you need to get an “A”, or be perfect, or get the highest award or rank. He just wants you to do your best, and lean on Him as you walk through it. To do it for HIS glory, and not your own. To do it to please Him, not your teacher or parents. To point to Him, not to how great you are. Do what you can, and leave the results up to Him. He takes care of you. He provides. He will sustain you. Sweet sister, he cares for you.

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

(Finally, can I share a little secret with you as one who has been out of college for a few years now- yikes! 5 years now!! Oh man, old lady in the house!–A few years from now, you won’t remember this test. You won’t remember the grade you got on this final, you probably won’t even remember the grade you get in this class. So what really matters? How you walk through this. How your heart responds to the pressure- are you turning to Jesus to be your help, or are you relying on yourself and crumbling in the process? Are you at peace, working hard—or stressed out of your mind? Keep looking to your Savior- He saved you- He can certainly see you through. It’s not too small for Him, nor is it too big for Him. He is for your good, to make you more like Him.)