Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Challenges

It is without a question that this academic semester, which is now ending, was the hardest semester I have ever been through. Beyond the fact that I had incredibly hard exams, tests, and three term papers at the very end of it all, the hardest thing was readjusting to being academic. It may seem weird to some but the truth is that after being in military training (the last fall) for about four months, it was a really big challenge to learn how to be academic again. The first step was learning how to sit in a classroom for over an hour and just listen to someone lecture–forever.

For some this may seem like a usual challenge, and for others this may seem like something they have never experienced. However, my whole life I have prided myself in being smart and in being incredibly academic and intellectual. That being said, struggling through lectures (even struggling to stay sitting down through a whole sermon at church) was a new challenge to me–one that could took me a couple months to get over.

In addition, time management encompassing ROTC responsibilities, Army PT, going to class, work, homework, projects, etc, all became a bit overwhelming. There were nights that I ended up staring at empty space due to the overwhelming amounts of work I had due in the next couple weeks–or days. So yes, going from an environment in which I was told what was to be done and at what time all the time, back to an environment in which I had to determine all that on my own again, was a bit of a struggle. The transition back to being independent was pretty hard.

The lowest of low–academically speaking.

One of the toughest moments this semester was realizing that I might be making below a 3.0 on my GPA. For some this may see stupid because you are either incredible students and always make good grades (like I used to be) or have never made above a 3.0 so the simple thought of making above it is pretty amazing. But yeah, I became afraid of bad grades because so much of my career rests on making good grades and keeping a solid GPA. A solid GPA is a big part of what job I end up getting as a young 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. So there was some legitimacy to my fear.

However, being fully honest, a big part of that fear came from pride. A big part was admitting to myself the fact that for one in my life I wouldn’t be able to pat myself on the back and say “Good job man, you really showed them this semester.” Academics being one of the few things I am REALLY good at, it became a personal struggle to recognize that I was struggling with projects, with time management, with subjects in class, and just sitting down and getting stuff done.

The incredible thing (yes, get ready for it) is that the moment I recognized my own failure to readjust, was the very moment things began to piece together and it all started making sense again.

To hell and back.

As a self-proclaimed nerd (both in hobbies and in school work), one of my worst fears in school has been making below a B (even a B- is bad). The one time this happened before in my life was in high school while taking Pre-Calculus and I simply gave up because I stopped understanding the subjects and formulas. However, in college, where you get to pick your classes and major, I was determined for that never to happen again. Yet this semester I found myself in a similar place fearing a C in my very first 400-level class (not even a concentration class but part of my minor). I also saw across the horizon the possibility of getting a B- or C+ on an actual concentration class that was crucial to my career. Yes, it was low point in my academic career.

It you aren’t extremely academic then it’s hard to translate what I was living through. It’s like seeing your batting average slowly but surely go down and down each time you go up to the plate (Yes, I also love baseball). Another way of putting it is seeing job performance reviews at work get worse and worse when you know that what is really affecting you are variables beyond your control. I guess that’s the best way I can put it in non-academic terms.

Perseverance under trial.

God is faithful. God is faithful to His children–those who love Him and have given up their lives to Him–in many ways. I disagree with the reading of Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me) because a lot of people read from the perspective that God is a sort of Santa Claus who wants to give us all the gifts we want or think we need. This view is not only wrong but also self-defeating because life will prove to those people otherwise. However, God is faithful to those who honor Him. Even when we least expect it (actually, mostly when we least expect it) He is faithful to show up and rescue us when we are bent or broken and He knows we have learned our lesson.

I believe that I learned a lesson recently. Even when I think I have most things in life straight, God finds areas where He wants my will to be more according to His. He continues to find places where I need to stop glorifying myself and begin glorifying Him. I think I stopped glorifying myself (academically) the moment I realize my grades where headed downhill this semester and the moment I realized that I needed a miracle to make above a 3.0.

Honor and Praise are His.

Today, even after looking at my final grades for the semester I have a hard time imagining how it came to this. Honestly, I don’t understand how or where it that things changed was or miracles took place. However, the truth is that all worship, glory, and honor are the Lord’s.

This afternoon I sit at my desk in praise of a God who redeems all–if it desires to be redeemed. I sit and think in awe of a God who bends us till we break only to build us up even stronger than before. He breaks a twig and builds a strong royal palm tree instead, able to withstand hurricanes.

I mention this not for vanity or self-praise. No. If there is one thing, one thought, that’s behind this post is the fact that I am not worthy of praise for I don’t even know how it all happened. However, I give glory to God alone in claiming that, as I stare at my final semester GPA, I realize that it is my highest GPA yet and that I have no words to express the joy or ideas to explain how it all turned out this way. All I can say is that God is faithful to those that are faithful. God works out all things together for good of those who love him.

The one thing that many times is required of us is to humble ourselves and be willing to alter our definition of what good is.

Be blessed. Yes, be blessed. I pray you haven’t gotten the impression of a prideful or vain person (even though at many times that’s exactly who I am, and what God needs to break). However, I pray you are encouraged in those hardest of moments (however that may translate to you) to not give up and falter, but to be renewed in the arms and under the wings of the Lord.

Once again, be blessed.

My term paper for Major British WritersFinal Comment from Professor Linker about my paper.

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