AT this time of year thousands of students in the Southern Hemisphere are preparing for examinations at the end of an academic year that's flown who knows where!
While some of them may feel daunted by the challenges of the next few weeks, students of the Bible often see this time as an opportunity to demonstrate their trust in God-the source of all real intelligence.
Although I'd read and loved the Bible all my life, I was being daunted more than I was trusting in God one October when I reached my final examinations before university graduation. I was a mathematics major, and I hadn't passed any of the preceding quarterly tests. Whether I passed the course now depended on how well I did on this last exam. I had not been lazy or negligent. I was simply out of my depth. And my anxiety was heightened by the fact that I was on a scholarship and couldn't afford to fail!
Through the last desperate weeks of review, I was wonderfully supported by my parents and by my Christian Science Sunday School teacher. In our home, weekly attendance in church wasn't optional or even debatable-not even at exam time. "An hour with God is worth six hours at your schoolbooks," said my father with kindly insistence. And off we went to a Sunday School session that included questions and answers on that week's Bible Lesson (found in the Christian Science Quarterly).
One Sunday morning our teacher-another savvy parent-was quick to sense that we were all feeling we should really be studying in the college library, not sitting in her class. And she spoke bluntly. As I remember it, she said: "I know that most of you have been burning the candle at both ends. When I was in college I did it myself. Now, what you've got to do is learn to burn the candle at the right end!-and let the light of God's spiritual understanding illuminate your thinking."
She suggested that we shine that light first on a vibrant declaration in Paul's Epistle to the Romans: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (11:33). She reassured us that even if we felt out of our depth at this time of the school year, God, divine Mind, certainly wasn't! His resources were infinite, and instantly available to those who trusted in Him. Our Master, Christ Jesus, had demonstrated this in the kinds of tests he faced, and in the way he was able to help others to overcome mediocrity, frustration, and despair.
As always, a key to the Bible passages is provided by citations from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. Among them is this assurance: "When man is governed by God, the ever-present Mind who understands all things, man knows that with God all things are possible" (p. 180).
As we discussed the ever-presence of the divine Mind, God, in class it became clear that our performance is never at the mercy of personal capacity or chance. We are not required to read the mind of the examiner or try to "spot" likely questions in our preparation. Our first priority is to submit to God's governance and to express our true nature as His children at all times, and in all circumstances.
The only real activity in the examination room is the calm activity of God's omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Our need is to understand and live wholeheartedly with the fact that God is the only Mind of the universe-and truly our only Mind. This Mind is all-knowing and unlimited, and we express it in countless individualized ways.
In the weeks before my first exam, a quiet confidence pervaded my prayers and my study periods. When the exam period came, I wrote without fear.
Before Christmas I received the news that I had passed my examinations well enough to go on to postgraduate work. When I eventually left university, I embarked on a career that had nothing to do with mathematics! But it had everything to do with drawing richly on the unfathomable "wisdom and knowledge" of the God whom I had learned to trust!