There was never a great man who had not a great mother. Olive Schreiner

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A Little Think

Passing The Final Exam

Steeped in final exams, I wished I'd studied during the semester to avoid this last ditch catch-up effort. My attention span was waning when three triumphant words rang out from beneath my dorm window. "I'm going home!" At that sound, my roller coaster ride began. Forget it, I thought. I'm outta here. I wanted to call it quits and go home, too. I envisioned my mom's turkey and dressing, her Waldorf salad and slaw, her fabulous pecan and pumpkin pies. But no, not until two more days and three more finals had passed. Passed was the key word here. Would I pass with flying colors or just get by?

Based on what I'd done thus far in the semester, I would pass, period, but by how much? It was my freshman year at the University of Illinois, and I'd figured out a lot more than how to "pass." Adjusting to the freedom of being on my own had been huge -- more hit and miss than wise calculation. I hadn't always landed on my feet... like procrastinating about finals. But I'd figured, how hard could it be, to cram at the end? Intriguing distractions had gotten in the way. And here I was, distracted to the max with thoughts of home.

I had a choice to make in that moment: I could mope around and just go through the motions of studying, with my mind on the welcoming coziness of family and friends, or I could embrace the task at hand, thankful for the home awaiting me. I could want to do well scholastically, partly as a thank you to my folks who sent me to school in the first place. My bootstraps, by the way, are not that useful; I could not simply reach down on my own and pull myself out of the hole I'd dug!

My moment of reckoning had come. Would I cave in to the dilemma I'd created for myself and do more of the same during finals, wishing away the time? Or would I snap to and knuckle down? I used God's phone number, Jeremiah 3:33. "Call on me in the day of trouble and I will answer you and show you great and many things which you do not know!" O would you, please, I said, confessing my scholastic lethargy, begging Him to help me pull this out. It was a bit like the 5th grader who left her social studies test saying, "Please God, make Orlando the capitol of Florida!"

But you know what? The lovely longing of "I'm going home!" instead of tugging at me to leave for the safety of the harbor, turned me back toward the unknown seas. For the next two days I experienced clarity of thought as enough facts fell into place to give me confidence in the exams. But even more interesting was how the actual learning became more of an adventure than a chore. I wanted to read on, learn more. I can't say I had fun taking the tests, but my angst was lessened so as not to impede the process.

I began to conquer procrastination that day. It comes naturally, so I still fight it. But I get to the task more easily and enjoy it much more. When I finally got home and my parents asked, "How were finals?" I could honestly say I learned a lot from them! I passed and even more than passed on a couple. But the biggest "pass" was moving from have to to want to. That lesson holds me in good stead to this day when I want to skip struggle and despair and just go "home!" Only now I call God's phone number as soon as the roller coaster ride begins.

My "finals" are different; some are pretty big. For all of them, I'm eternally grateful that I don't have to "pass" with flying colors. I do my best and let God take care of the rest. I trust Christmas and Easter where God proves His love for me, where Christ promises to be with me always. When Jesus died on that cross and rose again from the dead, He was, in a sense, saying "I'm going Home!" Now His Holy Spirit enables us to pass any "final exam," because one day the Lord will call us Home to be with Him for eternity. The feast He prepares will be even better than our Christmas best!

How about enjoying your earthly home this Christmas and celebrating with all the joy in the world as your think about your heavenly Home! Have a little think about it!

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