On the Road

“Missional Moments” are short, weekly updates sent out during the year by Faculty Commons. Here’s an outstanding recent example by Professor Amanda Hodges. If you’d like to begin receiving Missional Moments, you can do so here.

On The Road

What best describes your early months of 2020 as an academic? Fear, panic, depression, division, disruption, determination, dedication, hope, community, love, peace, tranquility? – I can relate to some, if not all, of the terms above. I remember the day we learned that research at our university would suddenly “pause.” 

The timing could not have been worse for my program.

I had been studying an invasive insect for several years, and we had seen a significant increase of the population during January and February of 2020. March should have been the time for critical data, and then it wasn’t. Instead, we were banned from any research and even remote fieldwork because of the pandemic.

An entire year of research lay in waste at my feet for several projects. 

Loss, despair, irritation, and anger are real and undeniable emotions in such a scenario for many academic professionals.

Yet, there was no time.

With my inbox flooding, the phone ringing, and a videoconference awaiting my attention, I needed to carry on and proceed with publications, grants, virtual extension event planning, and student mentoring. To try to mitigate the spread of the pandemic, it seemed as if the whole world had stopped, except for essential hospital workers and us – academics toiling away in their remote offices.

In the chaos of 2020, with the pandemic and the riots over social justice issues, how do we bear witness to our hope and salvation that is Jesus Christ?

I don’t have the answers. In fact, I may be the least qualified to write this as I’ll admit that sometimes I have had trouble seeing God among the rubble of our current situation. After all, this is no longer the “business as usual” academic position where I felt God had called me to serve.

Fortunately, the Scriptures point to the ultimate doubters as our redemption model – the disciples. Their world had just been turned upside-down. The Teacher had been crucified. This was not their model for divine discipleship. Sadly, they didn’t even recognize Him on the road to Emmaus. Jesus had to open their eyes to see, so that they could begin the ministry and future that they never imagined. 

As academics, what can we learn on our road to Emmaus with Jesus this year (Luke 24:13-35)? 

Slow down and reflect. I’m learning that taking the time for reflection has improved my research and calendar management for the 2020-21 academic cycle.
Determine what’s essential and what’s not. Prayer and the study of the Scriptures are essentials.

Accept the divine plan in every situation in life, even if we can’t understand it. For me, this requires completely re-training my mind every day as a scientist.

See Jesus walking with us. Though my mind sometimes creates roadblocks or blinders, I need to remind myself that He’s always there. So each day is a new opportunity to meet him on the road and hopefully, to have the opportunity to introduce Him to my colleagues and students.

Dr. Amanda Hodges (Entomology and Nematology, U of Florida)


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Faculty Commons: Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
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