I am incredibly useless at keeping up with any sort of correspondence, as friends all over the world will attest. But with all the sweaty swotting going on in Singapore for the Cambridge ‘A’ levels, I thought the poor muggertoads might like something to help keep things real, and sat myself down quite sternly to do something about it.
The usual “let go and let God” Christian Hallmark cards didn’t quite ring true. And of what comfort the wishy-washy “don’t worry God has a plan for you”? Wanted to offer them something meatier.
For my own future reference, a few somewhat disjointed thoughts cobbled together:
- The exam period may seem really intense now, and that’s probably right. There is a season for everything, and it is probably appropriate to work hard now and do your best on the tests.
- Remember who your God is – he is the Creator of the universe and the Sustainer of everything. He alone changes the tides and the seasons, and causes kingdoms to rise and fall; he is the one who directs the courses of kings’ hearts. So when you study physics and chemistry and biology and geography, you do not study them just out of academic interest. Instead you can marvel at your Father’s intricate work in the whole of creation. And when you study history, whether of a country or of the world, you must wonder at what God is doing in the lives of nations.
- Yet remember where we are – outside the perfect Garden of Eden, in a fallen world rife with human sin and the terrible consequences of that sin on the environment, on the animals, on other human beings, on societies, on nations.So when you read history and literature, it will be obvious to you that humans everywhere yearn for something better. But time and again, the ultimate futility of human attempts to create that better world via politics, economics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, social reforms…becomes evident.
- So remember where the whole of human history is headed – towards the new creation, inaugurated by the first coming of Jesus and by the Cross; our present heaven and earth are passing away, and we await a new heaven and earth where our Lord and Saviour will rule forever over people whose sin has been dealt with completely. Therefore, while the results of your exams may be important for the next year (to determine if you will get a scholarship and/or to read at Oxford, Cambridge, an Ivy League university), they will matter less when you are looking for your first job, much less in 10 years, with progressively diminishing rates of returns in 20 years, 50 years, 1000 years, 1 billion years.
- Knowing this therefore, work hard, but there is no occasion to stop trusting and obeying God, or serving and loving your brothers and sisters, or doing what is right, or giving answers for the hope that you have in Christ. Stress is no excuse for sin. (In fact, there is never any acceptable excuse for sin.)