By Jacqui Jacoby
We are weeks away from returning to school, and you’re probably in one of two places:
- You stayed in community all summer, read your Bible consistently, gathered with the church every Sunday, and you’re feeling great about this upcoming school year.
- You weren’t committed to one or all of the above, and you’re not walking closing with the Lord as the school year starts back up.
If you’re in the second place, here are some ways to put the past behind you and start abiding with the Lord.
Tell a friend.
This is the hardest step, but I’m listing it first for a reason. Tell a friend (or friends) that you’re feeling distant, or that you didn’t have community, or that your quiet time was minimal. Why tell them? First, confession is pretty much the best thing ever. It leads to healing (James 5:16). Second, your friends can help you! If you don’t tell anyone, your friends might not think to invite you to church or keep you accountable.
Start to devote daily.
I’m guilty of using my busyness as an excuse to squeeze prayer into my schedule instead of intentionally spending time with God. Instead of praying in the shower or in the car (i.e. multi-tasking), make Jesus your one, focused task for a period of time every day. Block out time for Jesus and Jesus only.
You might feel overwhelmed if you haven’t touched a Bible in a while. Don’t feel like you need to spend two hours worshiping, studying the Bible, praying, and journaling every day for you to connect with Jesus. Focus on the daily part. Start with 15 minutes each day connecting with the Vine through His Word. Don’t burden yourself if you miss a day. Just return to your Father. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Make a plan to go to church that first weekend of school, and tell someone. Make plans to hang out with those friends who build you up and love you like Christ does. This is important because if you’re like me, you have a hard time saying no, and you might hang out with people who don’t admonish your faith if you don’t already have plans on that first Friday or Saturday night. I’m not saying you should never hang out with non-Christians, but those first few weeks can plant bad roots if you don’t start off surrounded by community from the beginning of the semester.
Here’s the thing: you’ve probably already heard most or all of these tips before, but spiritual disciplines are what God uses to transform our lives. Be honest with where you’re at, and allow community to walk with you into the abundant life Jesus offers (John 10:10).