College life. I fear that our parents may be deeply fooled by the actual happenings that occur in our everyday lives as college students. If your parents are like mine, they think you’re spending your time pursuing admirable endeavors: learning how to take over the world via political charm, or finding solutions to world problems like cancer, terrorism, or more recently, the Swine Flu. This may reflect the lives of some. But it also may be true that those “admirable endeavors” actually include (but are not limited to) conquering the recently released edition of Street Fighter (IV), deciding whether or not to pursue that girl/boy who’s had your eye over the last…week, or the epic battle that is the “farmer tan”. Needless to say, I fear that most college students (myself included) are, well, wasting our time on the temporal aspects of life.
A recent goal of mine has been to help my beloved roommates see and experience the joys of reading. I’m not talking about reading those weak popular books that make an embarrassment of modern literature (and in my estimation shouldn’t even be considered “literature” at all) like “Twilight” (books 1, 2, AND 3), or Harry Potter (books 1 through 500,000). No, I’m talking about books that present a challenge to our very weak mental capacities. Books written by renowned authors like C.S. Lewis or philosophical greats like Descartes or even Plato. It’s obvious that we simply don’t read enough. Want evidence? The popularity of the printed word (i.e. newspapers, magazines, journals, etc.) is drastically declining, and has been overpowered by reprehensible mediums such as “tweets,” blogs, and Facebook comments, which have shoved great novels and classic philosophy out of the modern consciousness. That’s right, I’d rather you be reading The Great Gatsby than reading my blog right now! But seeing as this isn’t the point I intended to harp on in this specific blog, I digress.
Back to our college years. I’ve been recently studying the life of Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758; the theologian and catalyst of the Great Awakening…not the recent Democratic presidential candidate) in more depth than I ever had before, and I’m in absolute shock at how productive and efficient he was in his lifetime. In John Piper’s book, God’s Passion for His Glory, he describes Edwards’ life as impressively disciplined:
“He [Edwards] maintained the rigor of his study schedule only with strict attention to diet and exercise. Everything was calculated to optimize his efficiency and power in study…he carefully observed the effects of the different sorts of food, and selected those which best suited his constitution, and rendered him most fit for mental labor…he abstained from every quantity and kind of food that made him sick or sleepy…he had set this pattern when he was 21 years old…” (56)
Wow! And to think that Edwards was at the ripe old age of 21 when he adopted this scary efficient lifestyle! Now, I neither believe it is healthy for a college student to live his life like this all the time, nor do I think this lifestyle is even possible in our culture based on the amount of distractions our technological world throws at us on a daily basis. However, I use this as an example to glean, in the very least, some encouragement that our lives are capable of tremendously effective works. We were all made with the ability to focus intensely, to marvel at the world around us, to find solutions to problems, and to think hard about the permanent aspects of life. So don’t waste your time!
I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet. You should be asking yourself: What was it that Jonathan Edwards, possibly one of the most brilliant Americans to walk the earth, spent 14 hours a day studying? What did he skip meals for? What was so important that this Yale graduate and former Princeton University president would sacrifice his career for? What did he base his entire life trying to understand and translate from thought into the written word? Well, the only thing that matters, the only permanent thing in this lifetime and the next. God and God’s glory. God’s passion for his own glory. Thus, this is how we answer the question of what we should anticipate spending our time doing–we should be studying and applying the truth of God’s word to his people. What’s more exciting is that understanding the almighty Creator can never be accomplished and knowledge of Him can never be mastered, yet He is consistent and has clear characteristics! How awesome is it that we have a God that is bigger and better than we’ve ever imagined! Truly we have our work cut out for us (which explains why Edwards spent so much time delving into the deep truths of God), but what a worthwhile work it is.
We all know that in college, people have the most time they’ve ever had. Additionally, college students are the most selfish people with their time: they put their own careers, interests, entertainment above anything or anyone else. It’s true indeed. But I beg of you all (and this is a constant reminder to myself as well): don’t waste your time on the temporal, but consider the eternal. Keep your mind on the things above, it’s what we were made for. So next time you think about turning on that PS3/XBOX 360/Nintendo Wii or head to the movies, consider what you’re spending your time on and whether you’re glorifying God with everything you are.