Don’t you love Texas in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.
Okay, I may have plagiarized most of that line from Joe Fox in the movie You’ve Got Mail, but I could have said it. It fits my feelings about fall perfectly. I love seeing all the brand-new, first-day-of-school outfits, the fresh haircuts, the backpacks burgeoning with Crayola 24-packs and Elmer’s glue, unopened boxes of Kleenex and hand sanitizer. I love the idea that no matter what happened last year, no matter how many homework assignments got lost or tardy slips were issued, I have a fresh start.
I also love to think about how a new teacher doesn’t have any preconceived ideas about who I am and what I’m capable of. As far as he or she is concerned, I’m brilliant and inspired, organized and responsible, polite and trustworthy. On the first day of school, I’m the student of the year! And as long as I don’t mess it up, it’ll stay that way.
Unfortunately, there’s a second day of school, and if memory serves me correctly, I was always the kid who left the 12-inch stack of parent-signed rules-and-consequences papers on the kitchen table with a glob of grape jelly smeared in one corner. Then I would have to face my new teacher’s disappointment, with that look in her eyes that said, You didn’t last long. And I’d hear the lyrics to Another One Bites the Dust in my mind, knowing I wasn’t another one. I was the first one down.
I’d watch as all my classmates got stickers and smiley faces for being responsible, organized people, and I’d slump down in my desk and read the creative color names in my Crayola box until the teacher told me to put them away, because by then everyone but me had their math books out and opened to page seven.
My point is, I love new beginnings. But no matter how many of them I get, I always manage to screw them up. I’m forgetful and unorganized, and I daydream a lot. Oh, and I’m kind of klutz. I don’t even want to talk about the time I sat down at my desk and totally missed the seat . . .
Here’s the thing. God loves new beginnings, too. And one of the coolest things about God is that he doesn’t care nearly as much about what did happen as he cares about what’s going to happen. As far as he’s concerned, each day, each hour, each minute is like the first day of school.
And he’s not disappointed by our perceived imperfections, either. He’s not disillusioned by the little quirks that make us less-than-ideal by the world’s standards. He created us, so he never had any illusions about us to begin with! His disappointment comes when we’re rebellious, on purpose, or when we stubbornly refuse to try and please him.
So in God’s eyes, we can be student-of-the-year every single day, as long as our hearts are focused on him. When our goal is to delight him, he is delighted! And he rewards that kind of devotion with blessings and smiley faces and even bouquets of newly sharpened pencils.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland,” Isaiah 43:18-19.