“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8~
Seems like it’s been awhile, but really it’s only been a couple of weeks. I’ve been busy with the beginning a new school semester, teaching more classes than I’ve ever taught before, teaching graduate-level classes for the first time, and training a new adjunct, all at the same time…oh yeah, and participating in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting!
Busy, busy times…but good ones, none the less!
Hope your new year is off to a good start as well.
A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF JUNIOR COLLEGE
The title of this week’s post, Picking Up Where We Left Off, was inspired by a recent reconnection I had in my own life.
I started college, way back in the 80s, on an art scholarship with the intention of NEVER teaching art, or creating art to make a living. I was a business major and I planned to work in advertising, somewhere, in some capacity. End of discussion.
My college years began, sort of on a dare. My Dad “made a deal with me”. If I went to a local junior college for my first year, he would get me a car and help me go to a private college in state.
I took that deal.
Determined to do well at the junior college and seek a business degree, I went after an art scholarship at the local college. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
I honestly do not even remember WHY I went looking for an art scholarship. I had taken ONE art class (ONE, mind you!) in high school, received the Art Award my senior year, and I took a few private drawing classes during my senior year. I have no idea what made me think I could get a scholarship for art in the first place!
Not sure how I got it, but I got the scholarship and spent the next year of my life practically living in the art studio and I LOVED it.
I also got the car, by the way.
The only art teacher, at the time, was an older (he at least seemed older, at the time), yet “hip” guy that I would grow very close to that year. I distinctly remember him suggesting I go on to study art rather than business. I poo, poo’d his suggestions thinking, “Oh, my goodness! Really? He thinks I should be a teacher or do art? Never! Not me!”
Famous last words!
Fast forward 10 years after that year of junior college art. I was back in the very same studio where I had denied my professor’s suggestion of teaching or creating art, asking him to write a recommendation for graduate school in art education.
Yeah, I had to eat some crow that day!
LONG STORY SHORT…OR AT LEAST SHORTER…..
To make this sort of long story shorter and get to my point, I lost touch with my art professor over the next 30 or so years. At a reunion dinner for a TOTALLY different event, I met a guy who was an art student at that junior college with me. We began to reminisce about our art teacher. We both had looked for him, but neither of us could find him. He wasn’t on Facebook. He didn’t seem to be listed in any online directories for schools where we thought he might be. We just didn’t know where else to look!
Thank goodness the other art student was more persistent than me. He finally found our long-lost-art teacher (although he was never really lost). I immediately emailed him and started sharing all kinds of stuff not knowing if he would remember who I was or if he would even respond.
To my happy surprise, he emailed me back! It was like we were still sitting in that art studio shooting the bull or working on some paintings. We never missed a beat! It was great to hear about his teaching career and where he and his family were now. He was sounded very excited to hear I had a successful teaching career (like he always thought I would) and what I was doing now.
After we made a promise to look the other one up if we ever passed through each other’s respective towns, the conversation ended. But not really…..
THE STORY NEVER ENDS…..
I started thinking about those friendships that are so powerful, that they never really end. You may be separated from friends for days, months, years, or even decades, but those friendships that were so impactful at an important time in your life, never really go away.
I’ve always loved this anonymous poem about friendship:
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
I love that! Don’t you? A reason. A season. A lifetime. What a beautiful way to think about EVERYONE you have ever had the opportunity to meet during your life!
At first I thought that long-lost art teacher was a reason kind of friend, but then I realized he really was all three. He came into my life when I needed someone to help me navigate college and the art world. And then I moved on.
He was also a seasonal kind of a friend. He came into my life at a time when I needed to be taught a lot about art, and I loved my time in that classroom with him. And then I moved on.
He is also a lifetime kind of friend because I have recalled many of his lessons (art and life) throughout my teaching career and I have done my best to share those lessons with others. And we picked up right where we left off.
In two out of the three types of friendships, I was the one who “moved on”. I went away and then came back. I went my way, he eventually went his, but that ONE YEAR stint at a junior college taught me a lifetime of lessons about life, about teaching, and about how to be a friend.
WHAT KIND OF FRIEND ARE YOU TO GOD?
I then began to see these relationships with friends just like our relationship with God. We often call on Him when we have a reason of needing something and then we move on. We call out His name to help with a particular situation and then, once the situation is resolved, we’re on to the next thing. WE move on….
When we are in a season of needing to learn something about growing our faith, we jump head-long into learning everything we can about what we should do, and then when we think we’ve got it, we leave. WE move on….
But, when we make our relationship with God a part of our daily lives, we become LIFETIME friends and we NEVER WANT TO LEAVE and HE PROMISES HE WILL NEVER LEAVE US!
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)~
We often “move on” when we think our prayers have been answered or we can do things on our own, but when we finally realize we truly need Him in every area of our lives, we call upon His name. We often call out in desperation, anger, or when we’re not sure what to do, and we pick up where we left off. God doesn’t change, we do. He’s been there the whole time just waiting on us to come back.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU NEED HIM AGAIN
1-Give Him a Call
So, what can we do when we decide we want a friend back in our lives? If you’ve ever been the one to reach out to a long-lost friend, you know you are excited to see them, talk to them, and catch up on what’s happening in their lives, so we give them a call or today, maybe we just send them a Friend request on Facebook.
Just like with old friends, the first thing we should do is give Him a call. Call out to Him and He will hear you.
You have said, “Look for My face.” My heart said to You, “O Lord, Your face will I look for.” ~Psalm 27:8~
2-Be Willing to Wait
Sometimes when we’re the ones to reach out to the old friend, they do not answer right away. They may just be busy or they may wonder why we are reaching out to them. But usually, if it’s a former “good” friend, they want to reconnect with us just as much as we want to reconnect with them and they contact us right away.
We have no control when that reconnection will take place after we have called, so we wait. And sometimes we wait for a long time. We also must wait until God decides to talk to us.
We sometimes have to wait and endure through tough times so when we come out on the other side, we can witness to others about His unending love.
Rest in the Lord and be willing to wait for Him. Do not trouble yourself when all goes well with the one who carries out his sinful plans. ~Psalm 37:7~
3-Remember the Good Times
When we finally reconnect with old friends we often reminisce about all the good times we shared long ago. The memories are just as fresh as when they happened. We laugh. We cry. We talk and talk and talk. We pick up right where we left off.
And God wants to hear our stories as well; the good times and the bad. Yes, He already knows what we’re going through, but he wants us to tell Him about it. He wants to hear what’s on our hearts and He wants us to ask for what we need. He wants us to pick up where we left off.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. ~James 5:13~
As some of you may know, I unexpectedly lost my Dad this week. I already had this post almost complete when it happened and I almost tossed it out or thought about putting it on hold for another week. But, after having a visitation today to receive family and friends, I thought this was the perfect post to finish.
My Dad knew a lot of people and many of them came by to pay their respects. With some of those people, we talked with them like we knew everything there was to know about each other. Some were friends from my childhood who talked like it was just yesterday we were in high school. Like we never left….we picked up right where we left off.
That’s the type of relationship I want to have with our Heavenly Father as well.
We may drift from Him, but He will always be waiting. We may call out in desperation when we need Him, but He’s waiting to hear from us. We may have to wait and wait some more, but He’s working on a plan that will be better than anything we can ever imagine. We can remember times when He’s touched our lives with love and grace, and we can thank Him for what He’s done and what He will continue to do in our lives. And we can always pick up wherever we left off.