Friday, October 28, 2011

Favorable Conditions

A couple weeks ago, I was in Lifeway and happened across a book called A Year with C.S. Lewis. It's a book that for each day of the year has a short excerpt from one of his many books. The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, Miracles, The Weight of Glory, A Grief Observed, A Slip of the Tongue, and many others are included in my book. So each day, I read an excerpt from one of Lewis' classics.

This guy, Lewis, is a genius. I had already read all of the Narnia books, half of Mere Christianity, and half of The Abolition of Man. I knew he was sharp. But the problem I have with Lewis' writing style is that it is endless. It seems he takes pages and pages to make one small point, offering little place for the reader to escape or take a break. That's why this book is so cool: When I can read his writing as a single paragraph, it makes so much more sense. I can understand what he is saying and break it down in my mind. I don't have to sort through countless meaningless sentences to find the good, meaty ones.

I've been learning a lot. The past few passages have been really powerful. They hit me right between the eyes. Saturday's excerpt was especially meaningful. But before I share what it said, you'll need some context to understand why this was so convicting. On Saturday, I was sitting in Chick-fil-A for breakfast before the my sixth ACT. That's right. I've taken the ACT SIX times now (and the SAT once). I'm only taking it because I need to raise my score by one point to get the next level of scholarship at the college I want to go to. The problem is I don't like studying very much, so I haven't been fully prepared for three or four of these tests. The math section has been particularly humbling. The problem lies within my study habits. I get distracted easily and give up on my studying. I let things like work, TV, video games, friends, books, and other schoolwork distract me. But I've learned that I have to be willing to study and work hard in order to succeed on the ACT/SAT, in college, and in life. On Friday, this hit me really hard. I realized that if I do thirty minutes to an hour of math each day between now and the November SAT, that will be enough to get the score I need. I'm now motivated to study hard.

Now back to the story. As I sat in Chick-fil-A Saturday, I read this: "If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come." This was exactly what I needed to hear. It cut through all of my petty excuses as to why I didn't want to study and made me realize I'd never ever find a "good time" to study, a time where I just really was enthusiastic about studying, where I loved it, where I did it for fun. That day will never come. So I have to man up and study, even though I don't like it.

We can't only apply ourselves in favorable conditions. We must learn to work hard even in tough times. If we don't, we will become slack in our work. Proverbs 18:9 says, "One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys."

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