We’ve had my 6 and 8 year old nieces with us for nearly a week now. Before Grammy left, she and I took the girls back to school shopping. Growing up, going shopping for new school supplies was one of my favorite times of the year. There’s just something about a fresh box of crayons, never been used pencils, a blank notebook with an awesome cover, a spotless lunchbox, and a stylish outfit for the first day of school that makes you excited about the new school year. As we rolled our buggy (or cart for you Yankees) through the crowded aisles of Walmart, I began to think of the new start we’ve all been presented that can only be offered by the one who gave us our first start in this world.
1. New Start
When Christ comes into our lives, we’re given the chance for a fresh new start. I don’t know about you, but even as a 4 year old, I was in desperate need of a new start at life. Everyone thinks that 4 years old is mighty young to make such a huge life decision. But do you know what the Bible says? It tells us, “…to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom” in Psalm 90:12 (NIV). If I were to number my days up until the day I asked Jesus to give me a fresh new start as a 4 year old, they would tally up to 1,678 days. That’s a huge number. How many days have you spent without the only one who can allow your life to make sense and give you the biggest “do-over” you’ll ever receive? Any number over 0 is far too many, friend. 9,152 days (give or take a few with Leap Years)…that’s how many days I’ve had new life poured into my soul. I’ve messed up along the way for sure, but each time I have asked for forgiveness while turning from the old things I have done, He has graciously made my life newer than a box full of pointy tipped crayons. When you step into the classroom of life, which seems always to be in session, people won’t recognize you because of your own countenance, but because of the makeover you’ve received from the one who clothes you in His righteousness. “Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:5 NKJV).
2. Fresh Opportunities
When our lives are given a fresh new start, we are also given a fresh batch of opportunities. My nieces are going to be the new kids at school this year. So is my sister. My heart has been anxious for all of them because I want them all to have great experiences. But somewhere along the way, they are bound to run into conflict. Perhaps a bully on the playground. Perhaps a mountain or two of homework. Perhaps adjusting to a new set of rules. Perhaps a stern teacher. Whatever it may be, with the conflicts come opportunities. Winston Churchill once said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. But the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” As believers, we too are given new opportunities that may be laced with difficulties and conflict. In fact, opportunities usually are guaranteed to have at least some sort of difficulty and conflict. Even the greatest of opportunities are full of obstacles and hurdles. How we respond to the opportunities we are dealt is our choice. When you’re starting over, energy is higher and your mind is fresher for making better decisions. But it’s when you’re in the middle of your “school year”….whatever that may be, that it’s often harder to keep a positive mindset and knee jerk right responses. Making a habit of approaching each new challenge and opportunity through the lens of God’s Word and Christ’s love is the surest way of being consistent through the game of life. When you mess up along the way, you can brush yourself off ask God to breathe new life into your heart once again with His Holy Spirit and keep moving forward to what He has next for you. Just as God breathed life into our nostrils to give us physical life, He can breathe life into our hearts to give us everlasting life. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 NKJV)
3. Sharing with the Class
When I read through the school supply list for my nieces, I noticed there were both things that they needed personally and things that they were to bring to share with the class. Scissors, glue sticks, tissues, dry erase markers, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and baggies were all items to contribute to the needs of the entire body of students in their classrooms. Just like my nieces have items that they are responsible for contributing to others, so do we. God has given us all unique gifts, talents, time, and resources to build his body and the world around us up. It’s up to us to bring those things to the table to bless, encourage, equip, educate, and reach out to our fellow classmates in this life. What things can you use to glorify God and bless others? Is it your cooking? Are you a good listener? Do you have some extra resources you could pass along to someone who needs them a little more than you do? Are you into a hobby or sport that someone could connect with you easier than just going to church with you? The list continues. Inspect your life. Find ways to share with the class. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV)
4. Things We Need Personally
So, back to that school list. There were also personal items each of the girls needed: pencils, notebooks, crayons, colored pencils, erasers, paper, pencil cases, etc. We all have personal issues we’re in need of resources for. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Maybe you’re experiencing financial hardship. Maybe you’re not sure where you’re headed in life. Maybe you’re battling depression. Maybe you’re struggling with a disease. Maybe you’re just plain tired. Whatever it is, there’s good news. Each one of those needs comes with a survival tool. You can’t afford those supplies alone, though. You’ve got to let your parent…your Father take care of those. Come to Him with your needs and He’ll supply them. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV)
As you prepare for whatever “back to school” season of your life that is approaching, check the supply list of your heart. Are you ready? Me neither. Better run to Daddy and ask Him to help us with everything we need for the first day of class!