“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new.” Isa. 43:18 MSG
I am a big fan of celebrating new beginnings. There is something pretty special about starting over and letting God work out new things in our lives. As faculty and staff, we celebrate the beginning of a new fiscal year each July and the start of a new academic year in September.
The New Year we celebrate in January is special to our entire LPC community because it brings us all back together after Christmas break, with memories made and gifts to enjoy.
Our hope is that students have used their well-deserved time off for relaxation with family and friends. Now, it’s time to return to campus and dig in to an entirely new schedule of classes, ministry opportunities, and service learning. I’m sure some are excited to return and others are anxious about a new semester of challenges.
Whatever the outlook, my conviction is that God is right there in the middle of every student’s return to campus – encouraging and nudging students to anticipate something brand new. The Prophet Isaiah challenges each of us to expect what God has in store and to be especially mindful that He will do something new as we expectantly watch.
That means we must turn from the past and look ahead. We cannot hang on to past accomplishments or hold tightly to hurts of the previous year. Instead, God has called us to turn and focus our eyes in a different direction.
The New International Version of Isaiah 43:18,19 has a biting edge to it: “Do you not perceive it?” The Message is a bit less tacit and more instructive: “Be alert; be present.” However you will best welcome the exhortation, the bottom line is the same. “Look forward more than you look back.”
Perhaps the fall semester wasn’t the best for one reason or another. Maybe the trip home over Christmas brought bad news or discouragement. Sometimes anxiety about the unknown in a new semester can be overwhelming.
God wants to make a way for every person - students, staff and faculty - to welcome Him into the empty places of our lives where we find the most need. He patiently waits to rebuild us and to reinitiate the bold dreams He has given us. Further, he wants to show us the steps we should take to bring life to those dreams.
Maybe the most encouraging part of all this is that while God is with us in all things, He is also ahead of us. That’s why it’s so important to stay close to Him.
As we return for a new year on campus, remember to watch for the brand new thing that God wants to do in you, for you, and through you. It will be better than what lies in your past and you don’t want to miss it.
Yes, I am a big fan of celebrating new beginnings. I’m in pretty good company though because apparently, the Lord thinks they are pretty special, too.
Happy New Year, LPC!