Thanksgiving break is FINALLY here and that means a couple of things:
1) It means that you get to be with family and friends and stuff your face with some Turkey, (and whatever other weird things your family makes every year whether you actually like it or not).
2) It means that the semester is nearing an end, so the dreaded end of semester and finals week is closer than they appear.
… but WAIT, before you exit out of this article in frustration for me even mentioning finals, I have some encouragement for you as you approach the end of the semester.
I know how it can be during Thanksgiving; trying to enjoy the time, but feeling stressed out about that exam or that paper due when you get back. I know how it can be to miss quality family time and a time to take a break from school. I personally have an exam and 3 papers due the week we get back from Thanksgiving break, so I know how it feels to not really be able to take a “break”. As we approach this break (or any break going forward), let us approach it with a different mentality.
Here are a few points of encouragement going into this break:
1) Actually take a break
I know what some of you are thinking, “I want to take a break, but I just have so much to do and no time to do it.” We all need breaks. Breaks from school, people, or even from clubs and organizations. If we don’t take breaks we risk exhausting ourselves, stretching ourselves too thin, and burning ourselves out on the things that matter most. Or if you’re like me, most of your semester has been full of breaks; unproductive and too frequent, and now you’re going to use this week to stressfully catch up.
Whatever side of the spectrum we find ourselves on, it’s important that we take some time over break to do just that, break.
Take a look here at Jesus’ example:
“’Come with me by yourselves to a quite place and get some rest’ so they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” –Mark 6:31-32
Earlier in this chapter of Mark we find Jesus sending his disciples to nearby towns in pairs to teach and drive out impure spirits. In this passage we find Jesus prioritizing time for solitude and rest.
If Jesus prioritized times for rest so should we.
So over the course of this week, take a break. Spend some time with loved ones for a while, and then find some time for solitude. That may look like taking the first couple days of thanksgiving break to nap, shop, or cook (most definitely eating). Whatever it is that helps you rest and recuperate, do it! Yet, remember that the purpose of taking a break is not just to get right physically, but also spiritually.
2. Make time to get alone with God
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed” –Luke 22:39-41
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people cane to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” –Luke 5:15-16
We see that Jesus, in the wake of the most difficult situation anyone could be in, goes off alone to pray. We also see that He goes off to pray in the midst of His ministry healing and teaching about the Kingdom. In fact, we see in scripture that Jesus went off in solitude to be with God quite often.
If Jesus, the Son of God, had to take time apart from His work to pray and be alone with God, how much more should we?
Jesus, who became fully human as we are, yet fully God as well, took time to rest and be alone with the Father. His breaks were not just physical (which He would need being a man), they were also spiritual. We should follow the same example set by Jesus in the way we take time away from the worries of life.
So this week actually make time to be alone and pray, read God’s word, and rest in Him. This week is a great time to make a habit of time in the Word and in prayer.
3. Take time to remember who you’re doing IT for
Your schoolwork, your clubs, organizations, and everything else are for a purpose that’s greater than just what is at the surface. In plain sight, all of these things look to be for great reasons and have purpose behind them. Yet with a greater perspective, we see that everything we do is for Christ, by Christ, and in Christ.
“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:17
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him.” –Colossians 3:17
Whatever your IT is… Do it all in the name of Jesus and be thankful.
You will have to get that paper done. You will have to study for that exam. You will have to fulfill that promise you made for someone and use your time for it. Hopefully you’ll take the time this week to remember that it is all for Christ. With that, hopefully you’ll also ask for a heart of thankfulness for what God gives you, and ask for diligence to do it all well in His name. With true prayer for thankfulness, diligence, and focus, God will bring you to love all that you do because it’s in His name.
4. Take up the race again
This is the point that is the most encouraging to me; to take my race and fix my eyes back on Christ.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-2
For most of us, our break will be wonderful. It will be full of time with family and friends. However, your break is intended to get you back in the ring, to get you back in the race. Whatever you race looks like; it’s one that God has put you (YOU specifically) in for a reason. Your race might be nursing, or acting, or business. Whatever it is, God has put you there to reach people that others can’t reach. To make a specific impact that others can’t make. So run your race with perseverance, make the most of it, and recognize that your time here at ECU/PCC is not just to get your degree. God has brought you here for far more than that.
Remember that your journey here is all by God and through God to give you this 4-7 year mission field and for you to gain that platform to reach people for the Gospel.
When you get back, it will be time to get a lot of work done (especially if you’re behind like I am). It will be a time for us to finish strong. It will be a time where we will be tempted to worry and stress, but with prayer and time with God, it will be a time to thrive and finish well.
Love what you are doing because of who it is you’re doing it for. And if you find yourself frustrated or struggling to see the point, fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.