Doing Our Best as an Act of Worship

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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This is one of those stories you don’t mind telling many, many years after it happened. One of those red-faced, life-lessons.

I was in my last undergraduate semester at Ohio State. “Environmental science” was one of the classes. That may sound like a cake-walk to you, but it really was a complex and difficult course. And, I made it even more difficult.

In short, I got behind….in my reading, assignments, quiz preparation, etc.

My excuses were plentiful: Too many credit hours, little interest in the subject matter, warm spring weather and a bad case of ‘senioritis’.

Eventually, the time came to pay for those excuses. The dreaded mid-term exam had arrived. I stared at the first page and hoped that the second page would offer greater promise….then on to the third, fourth, etc. Not much hope.

Nevertheless, I struggled through every question and managed to record an answer for each. Do you know the term, “blowing smoke?” A few of my answers were clearly correct; the rest was smoke.

I was so incredibly happy to complete the forty-eight minute struggle! So, I recorded in the lower right-hand corner of the last page three simple letters: “PTL”

In those days, Joni Eareckson (Tada) was quite popular for her story of becoming a Christ-follower after suffering a neck-down paralyzing accident. Undaunted, she became an author and a wonderful artist who drew and painted with a brush in her mouth. She signed every drawing with her autograph and “PTL”… “Praise The Lord”.

PTL indeed! I was done with that awful test! It was so hard, but I made it through to the end. Praise the Lord!

Then came the day of reckoning. 48%. Gulp! Even the best grade-curvers would have a hard time pulling a D- out of that score. My entire test looked like it had been used in some kind of animal sacrifice ceremony. Can one pen contain that much red ink?

Then, a shattering moment. My ‘PTL’ had even undergone examination by the professor. He had written some words next to my euphoric acronym but then attempted to scribble them out. But I could still read it.

“For what?”

My eyes could not believe it. Did my secular professor know this abbreviation? Was he really asking me why I “praise the Lord?”

Next to the words, “For what?” he wrote, “Call me” and gave his personal phone number. So, after a few days of composing myself and determining what I might say, I called him.

As it turned out, he was not only a well-respected professor. He was also a faculty advisor for a major student Christian fellowship on campus. I had no idea.

He wanted to know a little more about me and my major. He also asked about my beliefs and at that point he discovered I was a fairly young believer in Jesus.

Gently and clearly, the professor walked me through a life-lesson. Something along these lines:

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23

I got the message. Shoddy work is no way to honor God.

The rest of that semester was an uphill climb for me. Fighting through senioritis and saying no at times to Frisbee-throwing on the Oval was tough. But, I finished the course with a passing grade….oh so barely.

More important than a passing grade was the “For what?” that I will forever remember.

Married? A parent? Student? Factory line worker? Farmer? Athlete? Son or daughter or sibling? Craftsman? Politician? What vocation(s) is before you? To what are you called?

“For what?”

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