Time, School, and the Glory of God

by Mattie Bryant

The dictionary defines time as “the infinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, and into the future.”  In other words, time is much bigger than us and also the world we live in; our time on earth is limited, but so is the existence of earth itself.  We’re reminded that “the earth shall soon dissolve like snow... but God, who called me here below, will be forever mine” in the hymn, Amazing Grace.  The time that God has given us on earth is not to be a burden, but to be a gift.  He has called us to live in the present knowing that He is forever ours, having created time Himself.  We are not confined to the fruits of our labor in this life for all eternity by His grace.  While we are called to work diligently, take care of our bodies, share the Gospel, give to the poor, and much more with our time, our most important call is simply to love God with all of our being and to love others as ourselves... “all the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  God has designed every good work for our beings to be in this posture, allowing us to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds.  

So how can I do this – especially in college, when my time seems to run at high-speed and in scarcity? How long should my quiet time be every morning? Do I pray enough? What does a healthy balance look like between school, family, friends, and just being by myself?  Truth is, there’s not a practical answer to any of these questions.  I’ve realized I focus too much on the tangible, measurable stuff because, ultimately, however I schedule my time for these things will change soon enough – in different seasons of life, but even within weeks and days.  There’s no set blueprint for how to perfectly honor and glorify God with your time in college, just like there’s not one for your life either.  The Pharisees fell victim to making this blueprint and obsessing over their works to the point that their hearts turned to stone.  God asks the opposite of us:  for us to love and pursue Him first, asking Him to show and do His will in our lives for His glory.  He’ll provide the plan regardless of if we bring one of our own... it'll probably get changed anyways.

But how does taking tests and doing homework glorify God? After 2 years of this mess, I see more of my time is consumed with studying and less with people.  This past semester, I was reminded that doing school well, not just half-heartedly, is included in loving God with all my mind by being engaged intellectually.  Long story short, ya girl was about to not pass an accounting class and had a quarter-life crisis; I felt like I had let God and my parents down by probably having to retake this class and completely changing my schedule.  Some days, all I could think about was this class and my failure, letting it cloud where I found my identity.  “How can God use you if you can’t even stick to the plan?”  And there it was, the plan.  Who’s plan? Mine or God’s?  Definitely mine. Because apparently God has never used human failure in His superior plan before.  Once again, I was focused on the tangible results.  I thought my hope was fully in the LORD, but I had actually put some of it in myself.

Our time and work – whatever it may look like now – is to be treated as a gifted responsibility from God.  May we pursue excellence in academia for the Kingdom, not grades.  It’s possible to work hard while holding our plans loosely and not being in a hurry with our lives since God is the ultimate timekeeper. May our true hope be in Him and may we long to love Him more everyday with our entire beings.

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.  We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”  
Psalm 39:4-7

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”            
Psalm 90:12

 “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”  
1 John 2:17