A friend of mine who is a primary school teacher recently remarked that she loves working at a Christian school because she can teach children not only how to learn, but why to learn. Creation is a reflection of God’s glory and power and it is worth studying because it boldly declares the glory of its Maker.
Most of us like studying… it’s why we’re still in the academy! But even if we’re quite successful at learning stuff and we like doing so, we must remember why learning is beautiful and important in itself—we must remember its chief end—because in competitive academies, our success and joy in learning can easily falter or fail.
I attended a presentation this week from a particularly erudite and prolific researcher who has done some amazing work in my field. I was humbled by the depth of his knowledge and I found myself examining the soft, squishy fruit of my term’s hard labour at research, wondering ‘why do I bother in this field when everything I have to say seems positively dull compared to others’ sparkling insight?’ Not for the first time, my ability—and consequently my delight—in researching my topic was thrown into question.
So, why should I continue as a researcher when I will never be the best in my discipline, or may never even produce work that materially alters the course of my field? I remembered my friend and her primary school students. Am I neglecting an important fact that I should have learned many years ago? When success and joy elude me in my academic journey, I must remember that God is still glorious—his creation is still glorious. And when I am not awed by the fruits of my own work, I can still stand in awe of the fruits of his. As researchers, we are lifelong learners, and we will only find enjoyment in our work through the ups and downs and plateaus if we retain our childlike wonder at the subject before us.
I hope to continue doggedly pursuing my research goals—even when others seem to be running academic rings around me—for the love of it.
“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”
Psalm 8:1, 3-4
“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”