This time of year is a joyous time and it is an agonizing time. Joy abounds for parents and students who get excited for school to be back in full swing. Agony hangs over parents who send their child to school for the first time or students who dislike school. In either case, school will be starting. The variable here is perspective about school.
Last night our prayer walk encompassed the Junior and Senior High schools. We walked, talked, and prayed for the teachers, students, administrators, and maintenance workers. We prayed for bus drivers. On at least four different fields, we prayed for lady field hockey and soccer teams, the marching band, and the football team. On three of those fields, there were active practices going on and the fourth field had just finished a band camp practice.
The thought occurred to me, all these student athletes choose to begin their school year at least two weeks ahead of other students. Their particular sport focus requires them to adjust from a summer of work or leisure toward full competition. As we walked toward the football practice field, there were two men watching the team. I nonchalantly asked, "So, how are they looking?" Get ready for a paradox.
The one fellow said, "Oh, I don't know. I'm not really a football expert." I wanted to ask him why he was there intently watching the team practice but relented. The other fellow mentioned this was the first night of practice. Last week was 'heat acclimation' week. Most of us knew what that meant.
Last week was running, jumping, push-ups, jumping jacks, burpees, and on and on....
Again, I ask, what student willingly and with great joy chooses to engage in heat acclimation two weeks before a long school year begins? My best answer is the student who has dreams and aspirations for the future will engage themselves in practice to meet those goals and will submit to a longer school year than most. Then there are those special athletes who train and compete year round. They may not always enjoy the downtime of summer vacation. They train to compete and have expectations of winning every time they don their jersey.
Whether we consider school students or followers of Jesus Christ, I think there are similarities. Are we likely to take the summer off from church worship and activities? Do we engage our lives somewhere else during the time designated for vacations and other activities? Somewhere in late August, do we venture back to worship and feel a bit out of place. Guess we'll have to have 'worship acclimation' week.
Consistency in our lives is a wonderful thing and always there must be periods of time blocked out for rest and relaxation. Following Jesus Christ is a daily submission of our wants and desires to God's will. I think we can play football, march in a band, teach English, scrub floors and still be faithful to God's will for our lives. It isn't as possible to experience the fullness of God if we hesitate or neglect to submit to God's plans for us.
If you find yourself a few weeks apart from your church worship and activities, pause and consider reconnecting. Realign your priorities and refocus on God's call to you. Commit to an acclimation period to get back in spiritual shape and then hit the mission 'field' running.
"I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1, NIV)