International Student Edition
image: Single Sisters in University
It is a blessing to be an international student when you think about the countless people back home that would love to seize such an opportunity. With expensive tuition fees and families looking up to them, international students (especially those whose countries are not doing too well) consequently feel the urgency to make something of themselves. They work hard in school to step up their game. Though this enthusiasm is good, the potential risk is to prioritize education before God.
I remember as an international student, I wanted to make my family proud and show especially my father that his huge investment in my academics wasn’t in vain. As a result, I was working very hard by constantly visiting the library, studying until dawn, and etc. My time with the Lord was not neglected per se, however, my attitude became different: If I had to succeed then it was up to my own efforts. For other international students facing this situation, it could be that they sacrifice their time in prayer or Bible study to concentrate on homework, papers, and tests.
I thought I was on the right route until I realized that despite my labor, my grades were not doing as well as my efforts. It became extremely frustrating! Other students came gradually become overwhelmed, depressed, and exhausted by the amount of energy they’re investing in school. That’s when John 15:5 comes to play: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Whether we think we can do it all without God or neglect time in His presence, there comes a point where circumstances show us that we are only human and can only do so much. Just like a branch cannot survive outside the vine so is our relationship with Jesus. It’s true that we can point out to people in the world who are prospering without God, but my question is: Under what condition? What did they sacrifice in order to get to the top? It could be their family time, purity, good morals, etc. For the children of God, it shouldn’t be the same if we want to succeed in school, it’s to be done with the power of God.
In my case, after the Spirit convicted me, I began asking the Lord for His leadership on how to conduct my study time. At the start of every academic task, I prayed and dedicated it to God; I did what I could for the day and if I felt tired or sleepy I surrendered the rest to God, no more sleeping at dawn. For the students who just can’t find time for God, they have to begin slowly. For example, read one Bible verse per day, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding on it, then go about meditating and obeying that verse throughout the day. When praying before your meals, take a little longer to thank and chat with God. Take small but consistent steps, the Lord will increase your knowledge and thirst for His Word and presence. Train your heart to obey the Lord little by little. Walk towards having a healthy balance between God and school.