Did you think I was done blogging? No, I’m not! I was given the privilege of leading staff devotions for my school. I wrote three scenes with reflections on the Camino and our school year, using the theme verse for the year, Ephesians 2:10. Here’s scene one:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
From the first time that I heard about the Camino de Santiago, I wanted to go. I’m not sure how to describe my reasons for wanting to go, and might end up saying it was like the Camino was calling to me. That’s certainly a common enough reason one hears from other pilgrims on the Camino. I believe, actually, it was God calling me to this journey.
This past year I made my plans. I bought my plane tickets in February, and things seemed certain. Then in March, I got really sick. I wondered if I was actually healthy enough to spend every day walking for more than a month. There were a lot of other things to worry about, too – would I be alone for the whole trip, or would I make friends? Would my hiking boots protect my feet, or would I suffer blisters for weeks on end? Would my back injury allow me to carry everything I needed for 40 days, or would I have to give up somewhere along the way? Was it really safe to go to a foreign country on my own?
But each time that I began pondering these what ifs, the Holy Spirit was there to bring comfort and wisdom. Sometimes that was through the prayers or encouragement of a friend, sometimes through advice from someone who had walked the Camino before. Sometimes through words of a song that would remind me of God’s faithfulness. Often through words of Scripture being brought to mind.
God’s faithfulness in the past gives us faith today for the promises of tomorrow.
God had called me to this journey. He has been totally faithful through my entire life, in fact, through all of human history and beyond. So I stepped out in faith, knowing that God’s faithfulness would continue.
As a staff gathered here today, we celebrate God’s faithfulness over the history of JKCS, over the history of each of our individual lives, over the events of our summers; and we anticipate his faithfulness to us this coming year. The summer experiences represented around this room vary widely – rest, relaxation, busyness; joy, sorrow, grief, and loss; excitement, preparation and anticipation, looking back, leaving places of employment, starting a new job or a new teaching assignment here at John Knox.
Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for every activity under heaven…
A time to be born, and a time to die.
A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
A time to cry, and a time to laugh.
A time to rest, and a time to work.
A time to walk, and a time to lie down, I might add.
A time to say goodbye to previous staff members, and a time to welcome new ones.
A time to send students on to the next grade, and a time to face the challenges of the next group of students God entrusts to us.
God has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Even though we cannot see the whole scope of God’s work, we rest in God’s faithfulness.
God already knows each moment we will face, collectively and individually, this year. He knows the moments we will seek his face with great joy, being renewed in his presence and goodness. He knows the moments that we will give in to temptation, perhaps say something we later regret. He knows the student that will challenge us, push us to the limits of our patience and love. He knows the times that we will feel overwhelmed with our workload, lugging buckets of marking to and from school as we try to write report cards that might even begin to reflect on the learning and growth in our students over a term. He knows the moments our hearts will ache from criticism, and the moments when our hearts will be encouraged by the kind words of others.
Each experience will be used by God to continue to shape us into the people he is calling us to be. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them, Romans tells us. We are God’s masterpieces – he is not content to let us stay the way we are, but calls us to be created anew, into his image. God knows each experience we will have this year. He rejoices with us in the good. He comforts us in the painful. And he uses each one to his good and his glory.