As I opened my planner last night, my eyes focused in on the orange written on almost every day, the blue that signifies chores for the house, the pink and purple that I rarely see because all those classes ever have are tests, the black that accompanies every Friday and Monday and the red for which I have yet to even start understanding the material. In the largest sense of the word, I am overwhelmed.
I struggled with this all last year. My fall semester was marked by apathy and a general idea of procrastination brings the grade (it always worked during high school--my best papers were written at four am). My spring semester was one of inner conflict: the desire to do well and yet not desiring to work for it. My grades reflected all that was going on inside of me. I preferred to develop closer friendships with the believers on the leadership team for Navigators, providing a home in which we could experience true fellowship. Well, true fellowship was not had. Relationships did grow and I praise God for His grace in this area but my life was far from honoring to Him for my priorities were skewed and my pursuit of holiness thrown to the wayside.
As I write this, only now do I realize, last year was marked also by pride. This all was done to prove myself. I had new friends. They had to understand how I could serve and how holy I could look. Oh, how disgusting! Fear of inadequacy lay simmering deep below the surface.
(I do want to clarify that holiness was on a back burner somewhere; by His grace it had minor focus. There was some pursuit of Him that was not empty by His grace alone)
The first Navigator SALT team leadership meeting this year started off talking about a quote from a book, "Disciples are Made, Not Born." It pointedly said, "If you are at college for any other reason than to be a missionary for Jesus Christ, you are going for selfish, sinful reasons." My first reaction was, "WHAT?!? Excuse me. God has called me to school and that is what I am supposed to be doing. Yes, the Great Commission needs to be center but I am here to get a degree so that I can serve in the capacity to which God has called me in the future. I can't believe you could even accuse me of such things. That's not selfish."
After further discussion with an extremely helpful brother in Christ, missionary made much more sense to me. Missionary is someone who goes to live somewhere and immerses themselves in the culture in which they are now living. Without the cultural immersion (not including that which is unbiblical), one is not able to relate to the people. Applying this to college, if I were to pursue excellence in my studies, I am being a missionary. Studying is part of the college culture. It is a necessary part of the college culture in which I can blatantly bring glory to my King who gives me the ability to keep my eyes open and my brain processing. I cannot be a missionary unless I am pursuing excellence in this area.
My motivation for my studies has returned this semester. It is nowhere near the battle that I had with my flesh last semester (that I lost more than daily). I have been enjoying my schoolwork and find all that I'm studying extremely interesting.
As I look over my planner and the twenty quizzes, six tests, and three assignments that are all due before this month ends, I am worried not over the amount of work but over my inadequacy. The work will happen; there are several other students that have done it in the past and are doing it presently. Six science classes in one semester has been done before, I think. I worry that I am inadequate to do such things though. This paralyzes me. This causes me to desire to throw myself into social interaction or cooking or cleaning. Those are things that I can do but all of that work. I am incapable.
This is a reality check and a reminder. My feelings of inadequacy are based in truth. I am correct--I CANNOT do it. I am totally and completely incapable. Praise God for overwhelming amounts of work knowing that it serves as a reminder of my human frailty. Also I turn my attention to John 15. He makes me clean. I was not qualified but in Him I am. It is Him working through me, not me. May He bring glory unto Himself by working through me. May His name be proclaimed in the most brutally practical way possible: by pursuing excellence in my schoolwork even when it means not sleeping eight hours every night. May He be my strength and my song. May my delight be found in Him.
I needed to be reminded.