There’s three words that are circulating right now. You may know them.
Back to school.
Although it’s still a little early for most students, it’s an inevitable part of life that is just around the corner. Most of my friends have already started saying their goodbyes and packing up their lives to go back to school. Some people are making more permanent moves, and other people (like me) are making baby steps as they continue to live temporarily.
As a college student, this time of year is drastically different than it was in high school. High schoolers dread back to school, whereas most college kids are eager to get back. In college you get to potentially move to a new apartment or dorm, you get back to your favorite extracurricular activities, and of course, you get away from your parents for a while. Going back to college is usually more exciting than it is painful. (In fact, the most painful part for me is probably just packing.)
Of course, going back to school means facing things that you put off in the summer. In fact, I know from personal experience that in the summer I tend to put off my spiritual life. God somehow takes a backseat to my friends and family and my television. Now whenever I think about going back to school, I also believe I’m going back to God and back to working out. Unfortunately, those last two never really happen the way I would like.
I think we use summer as a distraction from real life. In the end, we use our vacation to distance ourselves from God. Because He is God, we know He’ll forgive us and “He’ll be there when we get back to school.” We spend summer drinking in the back of pick-up trucks and gossiping with our friends instead of diving into the word. We use summer to have fun and mask our problems instead of facing them. And most importantly, we use summer as an excuse to ignore God instead of embracing Him.
This summer God tossed me a life-preserver, and it helped me float most of the way. That preserver was, of course, the Delight Summer Series. It actually kept me focused on God a lot more than usual. I found myself actually reading my bible for the first time in ages, and I longed for those late night Jesus talks with my hometown friends. Of course, the Summer Series has been over for a few weeks now, and I’m falling behind again. I try to reason with myself that summer’s practically over and that it will be better when I’m back at school, but I think we all know that it’s not going to get any easier when I go back.
God isn’t something from which you can take a vacation. He’s not something that you can just ignore for a few hours while you go party. He’s not just in session for fall and spring. And I think that’s what this summer taught me: God is always in session. No matter what season of life you are in, God is waiting for you to talk to Him. He wants to protect you and comfort you and fight your battles for you. And that doesn’t stop just because it’s summer. Similarly, if you did not succeed with Him during the summer, there’s no better time to return to Him than when you return to school.
I don’t think God is counting the days that you ignore Him. He forgives you for the times you stood Him up for your friends or your favorite tv show. However, I think He deserves more than that. (Well, I know He deserves more than that.) He deserves our full attention because He gives His full attention to us. And even though I sort of fell off the bandwagon towards the end of this summer, I fully intend to try harder in the next few weeks. One of the only benefits to going back to school is a fresh start. If every day is new in Christ, then surely every season is new too.
The photo above is from my recent trip to Yellowstone. My dad and I got up at 4am to see the sunrise in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and we were the only ones there (that's pretty rare based on the site's popularity). If there was any place where I could feel God's presence, it was there during that sunrise. I bring this up because I think this sunrise reminds me of this season of my life. Going back to school is my Yellowstone sunrise, and I hope it's yours too.
I am excited to see what the coming months bring. I want God to fuel me and bring me back to life even though summer is ending. The past few days I've found myself praying over the new school year, and I think these verses really encompass that:
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” –Psalm 25: 4-5
So as you think about going back to school or returning to a more regular schedule (asking for less days off at work, saving up those vacation days, anticipating autumn weather), ask for God’s guidance and meditate on His word. And take Him seriously because His grade is much more important than your professors’.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5
- Jenna // @jennaclarek