A Good Word for a New Semester

black metal framed glass window

The second light in our little town tells the whole story. “Summer is over,” it reminds us when it turns from a flashing yellow light to its academic pattern that includes green and red. It’s the middle light in our town bordered on the one side by the local public school and on the other by the local university. It’s always a little sad to see that middle light bid summer farewell.

I want to offer a good word for students who are preparing to kick off the school year. It comes from Psalm 73 written by Asaph who was a bit of a rock star. He was a worship leader who wrote several Psalms. He’s also described as a seer or a prophet. He had groupies too, students who were called “the sons of Asaph.” He was sort of a big deal.

The poem he wrote which we find in our Bibles as the seventy-third Psalm, is rather scandalous. This faith celebrity nearly walked away from God, he tells us. Asaph bookends this Psalm about his faith journey talking about goodness. The goodness of God (Psalm 73:1). The goodness of being near to God (Psalm 73:28). This is where he begins and ends.

But in the middle, Asaph questions God’s goodness. He became jealous of people who do their own thing and refuse to seek after God. They seemed like they were the ones really enjoying life. Asaph asked himself if it was worth it to serve God, if all his service for God was in vain (Psalm 73:13).

Asaph found himself in a dark place. You might find yourself in a dark place this semester. Thankfully, God didn’t let Asaph stay stuck. God offers that same hope to you. This reminds me of something I once heard Max Lucado say, “God loves you where you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay there.”

What’s really good in the world? God. What’s really good for us? To stick close to God. What would be good for you as you prepare for this new semester? Make a plan to stay near God. Make a plan to seek him. Make a plan to read your Bible before you head off to class. You might even kick off your Bible reading plan for the schoolyear with the Psalms.

The Psalms are the soundtrack of the Bible. They give us a panoramic of the Christian life. They show us the diverse emotions, experiences, and expectations of people of faith who long to follow God. They give us a blueprint for making sense of the human experience. They’re intended for our good because they point us to God in the joyful, sad, or soul crushing moments of our lives in this fallen world that’s groaning for redemption.

If you’re up for a Psalms challenge, follow these directions: Take the calendar date and start off by reading that Psalm. Today is the 14th, so start out reading Psalm 14. Now, add 30 to that number. That means, in this case, you would read Psalm 44. Then add 30 again and read that Psalm (Psalm 74). You guessed it, add thirty again (Psalm 104). Now read Psalm 134. You might flip ahead thinking, “how many Psalms are there?”. There are 150. You’re done for the day. Good job!

That means if you start with the calendar date and add thirty, and then repeat that process until you run out of Psalms, you will read five Psalms a day. If you do that every day for thirty days, you’ll read through all the Psalms in a single month. If you do that every day of the year, you’ll read through the Psalms twelve times in a calendar year.

And you want to know what will happen then? You’ll begin to look at life the way the Psalmist looked at life. This is what it means to develop a biblical worldview. That would be a good thing, wouldn’t it?

My good word for you is for you to seek what’s really good. It’s good for you to be near God. That’s what’s good. Don’t neglect that. In all your backpack packing, your schedule planning, and your new semester anxiety and excitement, remember God. There are a lot of things to think about right now, but none of them more important than him. Commit to have a good year that’s marked by seeking God’s presence. It’s good for you to be near him.