It can be scary to feel alone, to feel as if you have no one to support you in times of need. It most certainly can be terrifying to be called to a difficult task that promises years of trials and to know you will go it alone. Jesus’ disciples must have certainly felt anxious as he, recently arisen and back with them, began to say he was leaving. What were they to do? They could follow his teachings and example, but were they to do it alone? Thankfully, for them and us, the answer was no.
The last thing Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew was, “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matt 28:20, CSB). That was a message of great comfort for them. To their culture, the end of the age was the end of the present world, or even time itself. Jesus was promising never to leave them, even to the end of the world. What a great comfort!
I wonder how often we ponder Jesus’ words and their impact on us. Just as he promised never to leave them, so he is equally promising never to leave us; to always be with us. He is, as the opening to that same gospel reminds us, Immanuel, God with us. He is with us every day, in every way, in every part of our lives. I wonder, do we spend enough time thinking about that? What would change if we truly lived in the knowledge of his presence? Let’s explore that idea and how it can impact just one area of our lives: our educational journey.
In This Article:
God Is Truth
We should start with the simple realization that in education, the pursuit of truth, we have a holy endeavor. Truth, in the capital T sense, is an attribute of God and comes from him. Jesus himself told the disciples that he was “the way, the truth, and the life,” (John 14:6, emphasis added). We serve a God who is truth, speaks truth and expects truth from us.
God with us means that our education is not different from church or our spiritual life. It is not as if we come to school and put away our spiritual self, but instead, come to learn as part of our spiritual self. If we can appreciate that, this should give us a great deal of encouragement in our study. We study and seek truth through our education, and God is with us to support that endeavor. We should likewise not be afraid of questions, even difficult ones, for in seeking the truth in answering them, we are seeking a deepening knowledge of our creator. What a privilege it is to study. When we study, we get to learn more about the God who is with us.
God’s Call in Our Study
If knowing more about people and the world around us helps us better understand God and his creation (see Psalm 19 for encouragement here), how does that change my day-to-day life? For starters, we should not take education lightly. As we just saw, it is a deep and weighty thing that we have the privilege to engage in.
More practically, we should see a call to be faithful and diligent in our studies. It can be easy to lose sight of that in the midst of a busy life. When you have bills to pay, a job to work, family and relationships to manage, one paper for one class might seem inconsequential. Perhaps it is something we can skip, just this once. While the paper itself may be inconsequential, the study and care behind it are not. If God is with us, and we can be more aware of his presence when we devote ourselves to learning about him, then that is an obligation you and I must take seriously.
Follow my thinking here. The greatest commandment is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). Jesus equates loving God with obeying the commandments he has given (John 14:15), but this also assumes we know what those are. And how can we know who God is and what he wants if we have not studied: studied the Bible, studied the world and studied ourselves? Applying ourselves to our education is vital, then, to following God.
Now this does not mean that getting a C or, heaven forbid an F, on a test means you have somehow failed in your Christian walk. God wants you to apply yourself with the gifts he has given you, but he is not judging you based on the eventual outcome, only the faithfulness of your effort. It is so important to remember that two servants were called good and faithful in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30). They did not start at the same place, or achieve the same results, but both simply applied what they had; that is all God asks of us here as well.
God’s Presence in Our Discipline
You may be reading this as a high-school student eagerly looking ahead toward college and a field of study. Or, maybe you are in college right now, having changed majors once, or maybe even twice so far. Perhaps you are on the other side of college, having finished your program and entered a job market. Wherever you are, there is something I think is vitally important for you to know. Your field, your job, your discipline, whatever it is, is a discipline that God is in. Every field of study is important to seeing God with us and knowing him better.
There is no such thing as a secular profession in Christian thought. Business helps people flourish and build resources that can help them love and care for their families and communities. The arts show us the beauty and ingenuity of the minds God has given us. Science explores creation and reveals the majesty and power of our God. The list goes on and on. Whatever field you are in, right now, can help you better know and love God. God is not just with pastors and theologians, he is with you, right now, in your field.
Let me close by asking you to take a moment to reflect: do you know, not simply feel, but know, that God is with you right now? He is. As an educator, I have the privilege of seeing God work in the lives of my students. I get to see him slowly shape and change these amazing men and women to be the people he wants them to be, to be the people who will love and enjoy him forever. My hope with this article, in some small way, is to encourage you in your studies. They may be long and difficult, but you do not go through them alone. Your teachers and fellow students can clearly see the fingerprints of God working in your life.
Stay strong, and be of good courage, then. Your educational journey is not some part of your life separate from God and his love. He is with you every step of the way. Tests may come, and term papers may pile up, but no matter what, you are embarking on a holy journey. A journey to know more about God and to know more of God. And most importantly, you are not alone.