Dear friends in Christ,
I am writing you just before the Labor Day weekend. If you are traveling this weekend, it is my prayer that God will see you safely there and back. If you are not traveling, it is my prayer that God will bless your weekend with rest and the company of loved ones.
Summer is nearly gone. I know this not only because of the date on the calendar but because of the cooler evening temperatures. Some of you have caught on that, that I love cooler weather. Anything below 50 degrees is great by me. There are other signs that indicate that summer is nearly over; fewer fly fishermen are in the streams, school has started back, mowing the lawn has been less frequent, the number of boats and campers leaving Lake Raystown and going into storage have dramatically increased, and the confused and sometimes frightened look on the faces of new undergraduates at Juniata College. For those who have just started Head start, Kindergarten, Elementary School, High School, or College, the new school year school can be a worrisome time.
You can see the questions on their faces, “What am I going to do now?” “What is this place?” This is true to some degree for all students, whether they are new at it or are familiar faces at their school. From preschool to graduate school students all want to know, “What will tomorrow bring? “Now that I am here, do I really want to stay? For those who are in preschool, elementary school, junior high school, and most of those in High School this decision is made for them by the state and their parents or legal guardians. They have to stay! For some who are in High School, trade school, college, or graduate school the decision rests with them. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the choices that a student can make; how much money is available, have they adequately prepared for work or further training, what sort of support can they reasonably expect and from whom, and what do they really want. The last consideration on this list is often the hardest to answer, “What does I really want?”
This is a question all of us have asked ourselves from time to time. Most of us have at different times felt both very confident about what we wanted and very confused about what we wanted. Most of the time, we are somewhere in-between. What I would like to propose is that another factor be taken into consideration when making important decisions in our lives. It would seem reasonable to ask, “What would God want for me?” Many of the decisions I have made, based solely upon what I wanted, have not worked out so well. However, the decisions I have made after first considering God’s desires for my life have worked out noticeably better.
If this is a valid question, then the following question becomes very important, “How do I know what God wants for me?” The way we know what God wants for us is through reading Holy Scripture, faithfully engaging God in prayer, actively participating in worship, and by seeking the counsel of Godly men and women. Finding out what God wants for us is a matter of discernment. Paul tells us that God gives to the church that which is needed for the common good. Similarly, God gives us as individuals that which we need for our good.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (NIV)
7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
I would like to encourage all of you to begin asking yourselves, “What does God want for me?” Not just those of you who are at the doorstep of a new school year, but all of you. When you do this, do it in such a way that you make a conscious effort to actively listen for God’s answer. This active listening begins with reading God’s Word, engaging God in prayer, actively worshipping God, and listening to the counsel of Godly men and women.
Yours in Christ,