In a couple of days (or weeks) another school year is about to start—a new year filled with opportunities to meet new friends, to see God do miracles, and to experience His goodness. But it’s also another year filled with new tasks to complete, set of deadlines to meet, and challenges that will push us to our limit. I’m sure you all desire to do great this year, especially if you’re a graduating student. And maybe you’re wondering if it’s possible for you to experience a thriving year when you barely made it last year, or you’re about to face the most difficult year ever. But let me be the first one to tell you that YES! It is possible. Let me tell you why.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age . . .
Titus 2:11,12

Interestingly, what God gave us is not the grace to control the difficulty of our school year but the grace to control ourselves. Therefore, how we exercise the grace of God to control certain things in our lives impact the kind of school year and even the life we will have. And here are three major areas we need to have mastery over.

1. Time

God, in His infinite and supreme wisdom, decided that a day will only consist of 24 hours. For God, 24 hours is enough for us to accomplish all the things He has prepared for us to do in one day. So every time we feel like a day isn’t enough, could it be because we sometimes misallocate our time and energy for the day? For instance, we sometimes spend too much time on games and leisure that we lose time to work on the more important things, or maybe we sleep way too much that we end up cramming to finish our tasks for the day. The Bible tells us that there is a time for every activity under the sun. This includes, playing games, watching movies, and even going on vacation. The problem arises when these activities are not done in their proper time and we end up doing what we weren’t supposed to.

2. Emotion

As the school year progresses, we will all go through moments where we’ll be too lazy to get up, too tempted to procrastinate, and even too frustrated or discouraged from doing anything at all. Mastery over our emotions is not about controlling what we feel or stopping ourselves from feeling emotions. Instead, it’s about not allowing these emotions to control us.

Our emotions may be valid, but they shouldn’t dictate our decisions and motivations.

As Christians, we look at our down moments as opportunities to grow our faith and develop perseverance.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2–4 (NIV)

3. Body

This part deals with embracing the reality of our human limitations and learning the value, and importance, of rest. Yes, you read it right—rest. Rest is probably one of the most important, yet often neglected, keys to a thriving life. Rest allows us to recharge so that we can be more effective in the things God has entrusted to us! Rest is a lot more than just sleeping, binge-watching, or plain idleness; it is an activity that replenishes our physical, emotional, and even spiritual batteries by entering into God’s presence and enjoying our relationship with Him. Jesus actually invites His disciples to rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28,29 (NIV)

When the busy season kicks in, we need to start looking at rest not as a luxury, but as a necessity. This can be in the form of an extended devotion and worship time, spending quality time with church community, or even just giving yourself an extra hour of sleep. Don’t feel condemned when you rest in the presence of God, but don’t take this as license to be lazy. Rest is an important element for fruitfulness and productivity! As you master these things, you’ll have the energy not just to endure the school year but to enjoy it and make the most of it.

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