Most of the students in our high school ministry go back to school today. Now that I’m a youth pastor the first day of school is one of my favorite days of the year. It now symbolizes the end of a long ministry summer and the beginning of a little break before we kick things off in the fall.
As a young nerd, though, I never liked the first day of school.
The summer was a chance to escape all the kids who made fun of me. The summer was a chance to fully enjoy all of my nerdclinations. The summer was a chance to not get picked last for dodge ball. But once the first day of school came around the idyllic world of summer came crashing down, like the Shire under the oppressive darkness of Sauron.
As I got older, though, the first day of school began to be more about getting a fresh start.
A new school year was filled with so much promise and potential. All the foibles and pitfalls of the previous year had been forgotten and the slate was wiped clean. For me that meant putting my slacker ways behind me and really committing to do my academic best. That feeling lasted for the first week of classes and then quickly faded as I reverted to old habits.
Whether we made the most of it or not, the first day of school provided a natural opportunity to live a little differently. For those of us out of school, we no longer have that natural opportunity. If we want to wait for a natural opportunity to change, we really only have the New Year.
Thanks to God’s grace, redemption and forgiveness, though, every day is a natural opportunity to change.
If we have Jesus then we don’t have to go back to school in order to make changes in our lives. We can just wake up on a random Tuesday and decide that we want to be different. Then, through God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit, we can change. That’s one of the greatest things about Jesus’ death and resurrection: the entire universe is being rebuilt and redeemed, including our lives.
But the Holy Spirit is the one who does the rebuilding and redeeming. On our own we can try really hard to be different but we’ll eventually revert back to old habits, like procrastinating and ditching class. If we cultivate lives in which the Holy Spirit can work, though, we’ll begin to see his transforming work as our desire to change gives way to actual change.
And whether it’s the first day of school or not, that’s never a bad thing.
How did you feel about the first day of school? What opportunities have you taken to change lately?