written by Emily Chois
For the longest time, I told myself to study hard for the glory of God. After all, He gave me this chance to study at a school I didn’t even think I was worthy of going to. I was going to improve my grades, my GPA and get into optometry school so that God can be glorified in how I stewarded my future. And that’s exactly what I did for the past year and a half. Serving on music team and being in small group, I studied heartily. However, my grades weren’t reflecting my effort, and I needed to try harder, because with more time, my grades would theoretically improve. I knew I had a limited brain capacity that God ordained, that may be more limited than others around me. But I thought I’d be able to counter that by increasing my time in school and improve my grades so I could simply pass my classes. Slowly, I began to drop things. I served less and less on music team, decided to be discipled by a staffer (and not join an undergrad small group), and chose to not lead small group this fall. Now, I had maximum time to study for His glory, and steward my primary responsibility as a student. Although the circumstances weren’t favorable because I wanted to serve more, studying so I didn’t get kicked out of my major was of utmost importance.
These things seemed good.
Until I began shaking at the thought of the next test. More and more, the Word of God became a book that didn’t deserve my best attention. More and more, I couldn’t fathom the thought of not becoming an optometrist. It was in November, that I began to realize my selfishness and the mask of sin as good. I realized that all these good things were just a façade of me trying to satisfy my own desires. Why was my chest so tight when I thought about my OAT (the MCAT of opt)? Why was I crying when I couldn’t seem to pass my class? Why were these good things becoming bad? Why, O Lord, did I lose sight of the surpassing value of knowing you? And still, the Lord sustained my body.
Thoughts like, “No, Emily, it is good. I just need to pull through the quarter, and then figure out what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it during break” kept running through my head. My fist was still tightly grasping my idol.
I went home for winter break, and rested. But my heart was not at ease. Though I read the Word, though I worshipped and sang praises to Him, my heart, mind and soul did not love Him wholly. Saturday before Winter quarter, I realized I was going back to school. My heart sank. Though I rested, and stress was relieved, school was still such a burden. I came back a day later, my heart literally racing. In fact, it was beating abnormally fast and skipping beats. I couldn’t take a full breath, and I felt light headed. I was taken to the ER.
I don’t know if it was a panic attack, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Being in the hospital wasn’t new to me, since I grew up being tested and examined more than normal, but I never thought that my anxiousness would ever affect my physical health. What I didn’t see over break was this: until I fully recognized that I had placed an idol above Him, and until I opened my tight fist to repent from my sin, I would not have the peace that surpasses understanding. In those weeks of trial, how much did the Lord cry for me for the past few months? How much did I disobey him, and stab him in the heart with my disobedience by worshipping false idols? How was he still faithful to bring me to his rest and give grace to my health, when I was so faithless? To what end would my school and job get me? How did I end up ignoring all of my present responsibilities to “steward my future”?
Brothers and sisters, let us not dwell on the stresses of tomorrow. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul today. Don’t wait to do that tomorrow, but today, love Him wholly. Examine yourselves carefully each morning with His words, paying much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it and fall into the temptations of this world’s worries rather than heavenly treasures. May we rest our bodies each night, knowing that we spent the day worthily for His kingdom.
All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25a