The God of Septembers: A Prayer for the New School Year
In Joshua 24, God’s people, the Israelites, are gathered at Shechem. They have fought their battles in the land of Canaan and are about to head off to establish themselves in this new territory. In many ways, as a youth pastor, this feels to me like a new school year.
Our students have done all that they can to establish themselves to this point and we as parents are being asked, once again, to surrender them to another year in school to take on challenges, adventures and new learnings. Joshua had just walked the Israelites through a history lesson to remind them that they did not get to this place on their own but instead, must continue to rely on God.
Here are 3 takeaways I find in these verses in Joshua 24:
1) God is a God of New Beginnings
In verse 13, God says,
“I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.”
For the Israelites, this is a new beginning. They are establishing their new land; they have the chance to make this land their own. God honours that. God desires for them to establish new routines, new habits, and new rhythms for life. It all starts here. Choose this day whom you will serve.
2) God is a God of Resolutions
This brings us to our takeaway. God is a God of Resolutions. We all do them, most often in January. And we, more often, fail. I believe that God honours the TRY and He also honours the decision. We are fallible; we all sin. But God honours the new decisions, the choices we make to turn away from sin and turn back towards HIM. That is exactly what Joshua is talking about here. Choose this day whom you will serve. Make a new resolution.
For many of our students, as they walk into a new school year, they are also making their own resolutions and their own promises. They are dreaming their own dreams for this school year. They are hoping to find friends, hoping to make good grades and hoping they will find a group to fit into. This is a good process. God honours the desire to be more than we currently are or were.
3) God is a God of Covenants
There is one more very important point here. In verse 25 it says that Joshua made a covenant for them. He drew up for them decrees and laws. But he did one more thing, one more really cool thing. He set up a large stone which served as both an inspiration for the people and a reminder.
Why all the fuss? Why now? The dust hadn’t even settled…
Because there was danger in JUST LIVING in the land.
There were all kinds of hostilities still in the land. Even though the Israelites had fought and won their battles to get to this point, Joshua knew that the battle for their hearts and minds was far from over. There were still many influences in the land that were contrary to the way of God. Joshua set up this stone as a reminder of the commitment the Israelites had made here in Shechem.
Do you ever feel as though your family is in danger of giving in to the influences or ideologies of the world around you? Maybe it’s time for you to take up the God of Septembers on his offer. Maybe it’s a great time to re-evaluate the direction of your own life or where your family is heading this September.
The pattern Joshua has established is this: look back at where you have been, and decide right now… where you will go from now on… This September, we have that opportunity!
- Since God is a God of new beginnings, why not sit down with your students and talk through the ways that God has led your family to this point? To look at your own journey of faith and school – and see if you can identify the ways that you have seen God at work.
- And since God is a God of resolutions, maybe this is a great time to sit down with your family and draw up a set of goals, resolutions and dreams for this school year. Then you can ask God for his wisdom and direction as you attempt to accomplish them with his help.
- Remember that God is a God of covenants. Maybe you can creatively find a way as a family to mark this time of decisions, commitments, dreams and promises. It could be something as simple as writing out a covenant on a sheet of paper or planting a tree. Get creative and involve every member of the family.
Maybe it’s time for a new beginning, a new resolution, and a new covenant with the God of Septembers.
A great place to start is prayer. Let’s commit to praying for this coming year and experience the peace that comes from leaving our concerns with Jesus. Let’s remind ourselves of the promise of peace God gives us in Philippians 4:6-7:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Thank you for the privilege of education and for the ability to grow our minds. We pray that you will protect our children, not just their physical bodies, but their thoughts, hearts and emotions as well.
May you help them each day to know that you have uniquely created them and that you have given them many gifts and abilities.
We pray that they will learn many new things this year and that you will help them to stay focused and diligent in their studies. May they work hard, not just for grades, but because they desire to please You.
Thank you for the gift of friendships and we ask that you will guide them into healthy relationships and protect them from harmful ones. Help us to guide them and teach them what it means to be a good friend.
Please give wisdom, patience and strength for all of the teachers and school administrators, and help parents to be supportive, understanding and kind in their interactions with them.
Help us all to grow in our relationship with you this year and to live as you want us to live.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Written by Chet Kennedy, the Student Ministry Lead and Crystal Sylvester, the Children’s Ministry Pastor. The FAC community will be praying for all of our kids, students, parents and teachers this coming year! Looking to get involved this fall? Check out all the ways to serve.