(Click to listen to an audio recording of this article, read by the author: “To my dear high school student …”)
The time has come… A new school year is starting and once again you are heading out the door with books in hand! The new school year is like the brand new blank notebook that is in your backpack; what will you fill the pages with in the months to come? By the end of the year, the pages will be full and you can look back and read about everything that you gave your time and thoughts and efforts to. What a chance you have now to begin writing a “bestseller”, a really good book that will be edifying for yourself and for others to read!
During the year, you will meet situations that require you to make decisions. Unexpected things may happen; people may say or do things that you were hoping they wouldn’t say or do. Maybe you find yourself being drawn to things that you know do not lead in a good direction. Perhaps you find that you are influenced by your peers, or you have free time to fill. You will find yourself compelled to make choices every day. You know that usually you can’t control what happens around you, but you can control how you will respond and you can decide what you will do and what you will give your time and thoughts to. That makes every day so full of hope, that each page of your notebook can be filled with a good story.
I’m reminded of what Jesus said, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You (God) should keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15. Jesus is praying for you, and it is so possible for you to go through the entire school year and be kept from evil!
It makes me think of a story that I heard one time about a farmer who owned a chicken coop. One day he found an eagle’s egg in the nearby forest and brought it home. He put the eagle’s egg under one of the hens who was sitting on a nest full of her own eggs. Over time, all the eggs hatched and the small birds went out into the barnyard to find food. As the weeks went by, the young birds ate together and played together and grew up together. Every day, they would all go out into the yard and peck around on the ground, looking for grains and seeds to eat. The chickens never looked up off the ground but were focused on what was down in front of them. The young eagle also pecked around for food on the ground but as time went by, he began to sense that there was something different about him. Often he would look up into the sky and see other wild birds flying by and this created a desire inside of him too. One day he, too, would fly away! As he grew bigger, his thoughts were more and more on the wide open space above him, and he hardly noticed the other chickens pecking around him. And then the day came. He saw a group of wild birds flying overhead and he could stand it no longer. He spread his wings and took off into the sky, without a backward glance. And away he went, soaring up into the sky. He was free!
All around you at school, there are young people who are occupied with earthly, temporal things. How can I fit in? What should I wear? What should I say? What are people thinking about me? How can I impress them? The focus is on the ground, on things that do not last for eternity. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2.
Think that you can be like that eagle, and have your sights set on something much higher. You belong to heaven! Just think that as you walk through the hallways at school, you are carrying this great secret, a valuable treasure, inside your heart — a hope for something far better than this world can offer. Perhaps there are other “eagles” at school too; be bold to speak of your hope and be an example of one who stands up for the truth and for the good.
And so, dear student, I want to encourage you to think about this everyday as you ride the bus to school. “What am I going to write on today’s page in my notebook?” Will you be able to look back on today with no regrets? Life takes interesting twists and turns; some are exciting, some may cause you to feel dread or despair, but it is such a comfort to know that Jesus Himself is praying for you, and that is proof that it is possible for you to make the right choices that lead to eternal life. Suddenly the school year will be over and that chapter in your notebook will be finished. Make it a good one!