Finishing Well

by Annie Smith

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. Like most, I’m not great at sticking to drastic lifestyle change, and I don’t get the hype around one specific day for transformation. As this spring rolled around, though, I felt the weight of one final semester to go all-in. This encompassed school work, relationships, ministry opportunities, and personal growth with the Lord. I sought discipline (thanks FCM!!) that would allow me to leave Tuscaloosa with fewer regrets and a firmer foundation. While I was far from perfect in this, the past months have been some of my most life-giving in college. I actually hit some pretty hard ministry and personal disappointments this semester, but a deepening faith in the Lord and some incredible friends uplifted me through it all. In so many ways, it looked like I was going to have a not-quite-perfect but incredibly sweet last semester.

Then there’s a global pandemic.

All of the goodbyes I’d been planning, my final stretch of nursing preparation, my treasured quality time with college friends, and a graduation celebration with my family were gone, just like that. I want to scream at Jesus, “But wait!!! I have more to do here!” I’m confused, bummed, and not that great at quarantine. As someone who goes stir-crazy after a couple hours with no plans (ask my roommates), I am suddenly forced to leave my community and sit, at home, indefinitely.

Although the situation is far from ideal, the Lord has absolutely shown up with things he wants to teach me in the stillness. He (obviously) knew what He was doing in January to prep me for this time where I would rely on Him for stability. He is reminding me of His sovereignty that will last as I move to a new city. He is allowing me time and space to be thankful for the community I’ve formed in college. He’s nudging me toward creativity as I try and stay plugged in to that community. He is teaching me to love my parents better in the transition to independence.

For all of us, but especially seniors, how do we finish well in the midst of the unexpected? First, we avoid the temptation to shut down under anxiety. We remember how in Matthew 6 Jesus calls us to not worry about our future because He will always provide. In his sermon on “Peace in the Middle of a Pandemic” David Platt says, “Tomorrow’s mercy from God will be sufficient for tomorrow’s trouble in this world.” Let’s cast our anxieties on Him and trust that His plan is better than our own. Second, we pursue God-honoring school work. No one can predict how online classes will go, especially when professors can’t even handle YouTube that well. I am struggling to see how my online simulations can even come close to the experience I would have gotten as I finished out clinicals in the hospital. But we are still called to glorify the Lord in our work, and for now this means giving UA our best through this. Lastly, In our abundance of free time, we find new ways to connect. Call your roommates. Text your classmates. FaceTime me. I’m bored.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:19-25

Hold unswervingly to hope. Let’s think beyond our physical environment during all of this and share our daily joys, fears, and glimpses of God with each other. He will always sustain us.

Other things I’m thankful for:
A+ quarantine Tweets
Technology to stay connected
Free food from my parents
The mercy killing of Alabama’s basketball season
Acts of kindness from strangers
Seasons 1-4 of The West Wing
Time to be still (whether I like it or not)
A better appreciation for normal life when it comes back

I love you all and miss you always!

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