Last year, I brought a group of students to Malaysia on a missions trip. One morning we got the kids up early to go on a hike. We had to go to a new hiking trail, and we did not know how long it was. We were just told that this unknown path will end at a wonderful waterfall. It took two and a half hours to get to the end! The leaders had to keep motivating the students and remind them of the end goal—swimming in the waterfall.
After hours of straight-up hill hiking, we emerged into this huge opening with a waterfall that had several pools as it flowed down. There was a huge clear pool at the bottom with fish swimming all around. It was breathtaking. The students were ecstatic. Not only was it beautiful and refreshing, but our kids accomplished a hugely hard task. They were so proud of themselves and it almost became the highlight of the trip.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly our perspectives change when we overcome challenges? What once was insurmountable, now was enjoyable or even easy. Most often, it is a matter of starting with the end in mind, and persevering to the sought-after goal or outcome.
For you as a student or a parent, this school year might seem like you are about to go on this lengthy hike, but you don’t know how long it will be or even what kind of path it will be. Uphill? Downhill? Gravel? Pavement? You just know there is an uncertain journey ahead toward finishing this strange school year. What do we do when we don’t know the future? What do we do when we are scared of the unknown?
In Psalm 42 David is an exile; cast out of Israel, no family, no temple to worship in, no idea of what the future will hold. David tells us that his tears had been his only food. That is how low David is. Yet, in verse 5 David says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (ESV). This is the key. Despite all of David’s uncertainties and the unknown of his future, he is reminded that his hope is not in preplanned things, in his abilities or skills, or even his family. David can have joy and hope because of Christ. David is resting on the promises of God. God has promised and anointed David as king and even though David can’t map out his future, he knows it’s in God’s hands. David knows that even if he has to live out the rest of his days in caves, God is his salvation!
That’s enough. Trust God.
By now, school choices have likely been made; send, keep, or a hybrid of those. Now is the time to rest in God’s plan and rest in his direction of your choice. Now is the time to cling to his promises.
Every morning we need to remember his promises and walk in these promises. Every day we need to remind our children of these truths. We need to remind them that God’s promises are surer, sturdier, and more rewarding than the finest reward (or beautiful waterfall) at the end of an uncertain path. Rest and trust God.
Practically, maybe now would be a great time to start family prayer times in the morning. Model for your children and train them that you depend on God for everything. You model that when you are unsure of things and you run to God for your answers. For anyone who enjoys writing, this could be a good time to start journaling. Write down your fears, expectations, Scripture, and prayers, and then return to them every month to see how God is providing.
Here is my call to motivate you to pursue the waterfall. I believe this year will be amazing for you—maybe the best year ever. I honestly think that if we all approach the 2020 COVID school year with one question it will change your whole perspective. Here it is:
God, what do you want me to do?
The year 2020 will be remembered for generations. How you respond to this turmoil will greatly affect your life. You could choose to mope about and have a complaining attitude, longing for “normal,” or you can take it one day at a time and make the most of each of them. Each morning asking God for wisdom, patience, and the power to do amazing things for his glory and practically make this year, with its uncertain path, one that builds you into the amazing person God wants you to become! Maybe this is your Abraham call. Remember he was called to a land he had never been to and with no plans. He just obeyed and went. Maybe this is your Joshua and you’re at the walls of Jericho. You’re thinking, I know the plans for school and work, but it makes no sense. God is calling you to trust him; depend on him.
Students, you need to remember that your joy does not come from external situations but from Christ. How many times does God’s Word instruct us to rejoice, to have joy? Our attitudes during this school year can be positive, not because of “normalcy” but because no matter how strange school gets, Christ loves us and is with us! That’s where we start our day. That is the foundation of your joy. Remember that you are his and he is yours. Go make this school year the best ever!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)