August. It is a month of new beginnings. Students move on to a new grade level. Many individuals embark on their first semester of college. Teachers and professors anticipate a new school year with new challenges, new successes, and a new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their students. Still, there are others who do not find all of this “newness” to be quite so glorious. Some students are fearful of moving to a new school, making new friends, and meeting new teachers. And I am sure some college students much prefer the comforts of home to an initially barren dorm room. Parents and grandparents suffer from the ill effects of an “empty nest.” And while they may love teaching, many of those teachers likely long for the lazy days of summer when they could read a good book, go on vacation, or do absolutely nothing at all! Even so, a new beginning can be a positive one, despite the many hiccups we may encounter along the way.
Personally, I have found that the new school year has brought about a lot of positive changes for me as a teacher. I am most excited about having a new classroom, which is the biggest change I have encountered this school year. I am so blessed and I thank God for this amazing environment in which to teach my students. I know the resources I have been given will enable me to help them achieve their goals. I have an awesome group of students this year and I am enjoying the addition of a new course that I will be teaching, Digital Design. God has truly shown me favor and I know that this school year will be blessed beyond measure! Of course, it still seems like the alarm clock goes off way too early in the morning and there are never enough hours in the day! But I know the weekends and holidays throughout the year will provide us with the chance to rejuvenate ourselves and before we know it, summer vacation will return once again.
While I am enjoying a good year, I have several friends who began the school year with illnesses, financial crises, and even the loss of loved ones. My heart hurts for them and I pray that God will give them strength to face each new day ahead. Having lost my mom at the beginning of August five years ago, I know what it’s like to have your heart broken and then be expected to continue teaching as if nothing had changed. The meaning of life gets construed and things that once mattered seem to dwindle and things that never mattered seem to escalate out of proportion. But through it all, I know that God is faithful. While I still miss my mom greatly and I know that life will never be the same again, I have the calm assurance that I will see her again. And I strive to enjoy each and every moment to the fullest. Life is fragile and I know how important it is to cherish the ones we love every single day. Even in the darkest nights of life’s journey, the Son of God shines bright. He lights our path and gives us strength when we are weary. He gives us joy when we feel no joy can be found.
Perhaps you are going through a personal struggle this month. No matter what is bothering you at this very moment, Jesus Christ knows exactly what you are going through. Call on His precious name. Ask Him for a new beginning. Not one that will be frightening, as it may be for students finding their way around a new campus, but a new beginning that will renew your strength, restore your joy, and bring you hope everlasting. Jesus is the friend who will stand by your side forever. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. Don’t sit there drowning in your sorrows. Stand tall and reach out to Jesus. Grab on to that new life that He is holding out for you! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Ask Jesus Christ to guide you through all of the hard times and the good ones too. If you put your trust in Him, you will not only experience a new beginning, but you will receive a new life as well!
In Christ’s Love,
Did you ever stop to think about the way God works in your life? And have you ever considered the fact that sometimes a delay or detour in life is simply God’s way of keeping you from harm? Last month, my dad and I arrived at La Guardia airport over two hours prior to our departure time. As I scanned our boarding pass at the check-in kiosk, I received a message stating that we needed to see a Delta agent in order to check in. We were perplexed when the agent printed out tags for our luggage to be flown to Washington, DC. Along with connections in Washington and Atlanta, they quickly informed us that we were not to fly out until the following day. Our direct flight to Jacksonville had been cancelled along with countless other departures and arrivals due to gridlock and inclement weather. We were not going home tonight. We were stranded in New York.
Because of the cancellations, all hotel rooms in the vicinity of the airport were booked solid. We found a metal bench in the Baggage Claim area. We had gone from taking a stroll in Central Park earlier in the day and having lunch at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse that afternoon to sitting on a metal bench with our luggage in front of us like we were homeless. Funny how things change, isn’t it? Soon the jackhammers began to sing. Every time sleep seemed possible, we were reminded that we were sitting in an airport near a construction zone. Still, we were grateful to have a bench, as many stranded passengers were not so fortunate, having to endure a long, sleepless night on the floor.
The next morning, we boarded the plane, excited to finally be heading home. As soon as we got settled in, the pilot came on the intercom to inform us that the rear luggage door was not closing properly. The next announcement delivered news that the hinge pin was broken and we would have to deplane. The substitute plane was en route from North Carolina and would depart a couple of hours later. But even with the seemingly endless delays, we knew that God had a perfect plan. I prayed a silent prayer, thanking Him that the pin broke at the gate and not in the air. Long before we even booked this flight, He knew which plane would be safe. As the song written by Joyce and Colbert Croft aptly says, the Lord is always looking out for us.
From the moment our vacation began, God had His hand on us. Our flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta was delayed by three hours, but the connecting flight from Atlanta to Boston was delayed four hours. On the Freedom Trail in Boston, we heard a single shot fired near our location and an ambulance arrived soon thereafter. From our hotel room in New York, we heard several shots fired on more than one occasion. But through every delay and every danger lurking around the corner, God kept us safe from all harm. Every part of our journey revealed God’s love for us, from the moments when we prayed for safety to the moments we were awestruck by the beauty of God’s Creation that surrounded us.
From the beauty of Walden Pond near Waltham, Massachusetts to the pastoral scenes of Prince Edward Island, Canada, it was evident that God’s paintbrush had majestically graced these picturesque landscapes. I was captivated by the delightful views as we walked across the bridge at the top of Montmorency Falls in Quebec, Canada. Every aspect of our trip was proof that God was piloting our ship, ensuring that we enjoyed the journey just as much as the destinations themselves. Of course, one destination proved to be extra special. We had the opportunity to return to the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York. The moment you enter the doors of this Tabernacle, something special takes place. Goosebumps covered my arms as I immediately felt the Spirit of God surround me in a warm embrace. What a sweet reminder of God’s love for me, as well as a chance to reflect on this New England and Canada adventure that my dad and I were blessed to enjoy together.
What about you? Do delays seem to squelch your spirits, causing you to become impatient and angry? Even amid the detours of life, remember that one thing never changes. That is the love that Jesus Christ has for you and me. No matter who you are, He loves you. No matter where you are, He loves you. As my dad and I stood overlooking Jordan Pond, I was reminded how God can take a broken life and transform it into a beautiful one. For you see, the surrounding landscape does not share the same serenity of Jordan Pond. Cadillac Mountain and Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park, while beautiful to photograph, are not hospitable terrains, full of jagged rocks and boulders. Just like God took time to create a gorgeous, peaceful pond in the midst of this rugged landscape, He will take the time to soften your heart and bring peace to your troubled soul. So the next time you experience a delay, just remember that God knows more than you do. That detour may just be the Lord looking out for you!
In Christ's Love,