Every ounce of energy that I had this morning desperately wanted to return to bed at 8:30 am. My first class wasn’t until noon, so I certainly could have gotten away with an extra hour, but not really. You see, taking the two classes from Falk that I’m taking requires a ton of reading. And not only reading, but a relatively good understanding of what’s being said in the readings so that even though I may not fully understand what’s being said, I’d know how to ask the right questions to find out, which basically means that I read certain passages of the text(s) over a couple times. And I took notes. And I edited my notes. And I read the passages again. It’s all very exhausting and I’m only in week one of winter term.
What helped me immensely today, though, is noteworthy. This term, unlike last term, requires a different approach to the college life. I have to be much more dedicated, much more serious about my studies. Like, I actually have to study. So what I’ve decided to do and have been doing for more than a week is read a chapter of Proverbs in the morning, meditate over the text for a good fifteen to twenty minutes, and then do the same thing at night before I go to bed. Usually there are tidbits of things that I carry with me throughout the day, but today’s was something that I hope to carry with me throughout this term, especially when I’m exhausted and drained. It’s this theme of working as for a king.
Proverbs 22 doesn’t have too much towards the end and I didn’t really catch on to much when I was reading this morning. But right at the end was verse 29; “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Jumping down to the footnotes, I didn’t get much of an explanation or commentary on this verse, other than how it didn’t blatantly copy from The Instruction of Amenemope – an ancient Egyptian text. But I thought over the words themselves for a moment and really tried to envision the imagery. For whatever reason, I pictured myself studying the material I have for my classes as though I was employed by a King named Jesus.
I think I have too much of a focus on merely getting the work done and getting by. More often than not, I go through school with this survival mentality; or at least I did last term. But right here in the Scriptures is an indication that God wants us to care about the quality of our work; not just getting it done. Yes, we have deadlines and due dates for assignments, but they shouldn’t encourage us to lax the quality of our work just to get it done; they should stir us to take what we do seriously and to become skillful, to become a quality worker, with what we do.
In my Dead Sea Scrolls class, we’ve been studying the community of Qumran and many of their rules that they created to live by. From today’s class I felt there was one thing troubling my mind and challenging my heart; diligence. This community had nightly prayers, frequent nights of studying Scripture, and nightly meals together. They were dedicated, to say the least. Though they believed there would be a different Messiah than Jesus (if they ever even heard of Jesus), I have to respect that they fought to live out their convictions and remain steadfast and diligent. When I walked out of the classroom, I saw this as a challenge to my faith; to become a skillful follower of Jesus, to truly and passionately walk with the Lord as though he were my King, as though I was writing my research papers and preparing my presentations for Him.
In reality, I am. But it’s not something that’s constantly on my mind and reading this morning’s chapter of Proverbs mixed with today’s Dead Sea Scrolls class really beckoned me to embody what I believe, to live it out as diligent as the community of Qumran lived out their beliefs. Granted, they didn’t really survive in trying to live out their beliefs, but then again, they lived in ancient times when living anywhere in general was difficult. Where I am at and where I’m heading, I really don’t have much of a concern for dying out in the wilderness. It could happen, but it’s unlikely.
My point is basically this; our lives on this earth are not meant to be mundane accounts of how we survived college, work, or whatever else. Our lives are meant to be novels of adventure, stories lived out in dedication and honor of a King. We were meant to persevere over the trials and challenges this world throws at us because we know that we have a King who has conquered already. All that remains for us is to live lives of diligence, of serious devotion, serious passion, as though we were trying to please our Father, our King. No, it’s not all serious as though we were separated from love; it’s a diligence towards God and His ways that stems from His love.
With the heart of a child, the wisdom of a sage, the dedication of a relentless soldier, and the diligence of a skilled worker – like the craftsmanship of a carpenter – we are called to follow Jesus – called to be walking pillars of faith. I have many goals for this term, but the one atop them all is to work as if what I produce will be displayed before my King.