Back to School

This week, mid-August 2020, school doors were open again. The long summer, which began in March due to Covid-19, is over. I’m not saying everything is back to “normal.” Covid is still with us. Schools have opted for various means of addressing that reality. But whether it is live and in-person (with masks) instruction, remote learning, or home-schooling – learning is happening again.

Since I work at a school district in the dual role of IT guy and part-time business teacher August is my busy time. Even more so this year as we adapted to the current environment. But earlier this week, for the first time in a long time, students were learning in our classrooms.

One lesson I presented this week to my High School students intended to equip them for remote learning (if that should become necessary.) The suggestions boiled down to four main points, be organized, avoid distractions, communicate, and set a schedule. Major sub-points were setting priorities, avoid trying to multitask, control your time and space, keep set times. In other words, treat learning as a profession instead of a hobby or forced labor or a family expectation.

I wonder if we shouldn’t also consider our walk with Jesus in the same light. Are we “professional” followers or something less? I don’t mean professional in the sense of receiving a wage for our work, but maintaining a level of intentional focus in our faith. The writer of Hebrews compared faith to running a marathon. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1, NASB95) Those who run endurance races intentionally train and focus for the race.

Here though, we must be careful and avoid the temptation to judge others. Some will start as hobbyists of faith. Others will begin because of social or family expectations. Some may even see faith as “forced.” Where we start is not where we will end up. We should all consider ways to intentionally engage and focus our efforts on following Jesus and running the race.

Set aside time, even if it is only a few minutes, each day to offer thanksgiving and consider God’s word. Prioritize God in our lives by loving Him with everything we are and loving others. Act on that faith. Doing faith is just as crucial as having or understanding faith. In short, be deliberately professional in our walk with Jesus.

One thing Covid-19 as taught us is that we are responsible for ourselves. It’s easy to think that teachers are responsible for our learning, bosses are responsible for our success at work, and pastors are responsible for our spiritual health. What we’ve learned is that while these folks are essential, we are the ones responsible for ourselves. Our old habits were put away, and we decided on some new habits. Even as we lost control of some things, we gained control of others. Rare are those times in life when we get a do-over, this is one of those times.

I will leave you with a few questions. How have the covid restrictions changed your walk with Jesus?  Have you become more or less “professional” in your faith? What new habits have you adopted? What new patterns would you like to obtain? How can we pray for you?

Dale Heinold
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