I remember the times well. There are three distinct times in my mind where I had to go “back” to school. One was in 7th grade. My family moved from the big town of Ankeny Iowa, where I was homeschooled, to the small town of 152 in Alleman, Iowa about 6 miles up the road from Ankeny. It was touted to be a short move and that I could still see all of my friends in Ankeny. I was going to go to a new school at North Polk Jr/Sr High. It was a small school, about 100 per class. I went to school the first day in 7th grade not exactly sure what I would find. I remember walking in the front door of the school feeling lost and unaware of my surroundings. It was probably something that began shaping my need to know what I am stepping into and if I don’t know it, I will not step into it. I started to meet people in classes. I could hear the people talking behind my back and asking who I was and where I came from. Whenever one goes to a small school, there are always questions and it is hard to hide in the woodwork. I remember the first week vividly. I felt so alone. I met Adam and Jeff. They were cousins and we started hanging out. They would be high school friends later. I met Derrick. He was outgoing and even flamboyant at times. I met Andy, Jenna, and Ashley and enjoyed them through High School as well. They were all band friends later. It ended up that I had great times in High School and built relationships that have lasted in the facebook world today.
There is another distinct time that I remember going “Back to School.” This time, I was a college freshmen and I was starting my year at Northwestern college in Orange City, Ia. I was incredibly excited to experience college life and life away from home as well as new relationships and old relationships. I knew several individuals that I would go to college with and was excited about meeting up with them and having a great first semester. I got to college and again felt alone. I knew people, but it was hard. I started meeting new people, new relationships formed, dorm buddies were made, I remember meeting TJ and Steve, Paul, Nobu, Cooter, and the guys on my floor. I met my wife Cassie. It was a great year of relationship building for me.
Do you know that there was one other time that was “back to school” for me? I felt some of the same things. I experienced some of the same issues in my life when this time happened. During all three times, there was something that I continued to cling to and that was my relationship with the God of the universe because that seemed to be the only thing that was consistent. The third time was when I came to be the Youth Pastor at West E. Free Church. Now, most people would say that being in that position, there would be all sorts of relationships that I could immediately plug into and there were, but relationships take time and I didn’t plug in quickly. There were several months of being unaware of my surroundings, not plugging in well relationally, and trying to find my role in the local body of Christ at West E. Free Church. I met Ken and Greg, I met Mike and Rebecca. I had my wife with me. And these relationships have grown into something grand over time. But it took time. And I had to give it a chance.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you today and this week as you head back to school. As you encounter new things, new relationships, new classes, teachers, experiences, as you find your role in different areas, as you work hard in your studies, as you teach, as you push forward to gain knowledge to live in the world around you…
My prayer is that God would draw you to himself and that he would be the consistency in your life that you need as you go back to school.