• Ashley Nelson

Back to School

As a parent of two school aged children, I experience the mixture of emotions that August can bring every year as we help our students get ready for a new school year. Recently, I asked my two kids, ages 10 and 11, to make a list of their feelings about going back to school. I gave them a few questions to get started...like, what are you excited about? Are you nervous about anything in particular? What will you miss about the summer? Their lists were insightful and unique to their personalities and character and I have used them as a guide to assist in preparing them for the upcoming school year.

I am sure some of the things that my own children mentioned are common to what other students and parents may be thinking and praying through. We are focusing on a different passage in the Bible every couple of days to pray through, learn from and apply so we can be intentional about preparing for the school year.

Here are some samples of what we are using in study and prayer focused on preparing for school this year:

When students have fear or anxiety about the unfamiliar and unexpected we can lead them to the story of Jonah. Jonah and the Big Fish is a great study to learn about obedience, overcoming fear by trusting God and repentance.

Jonah was an Old Testament Prophet who was given a clear assignment, by God, to go to the city of Ninevah and call the people there to repentance for their wicked behavior. Jonah did not like the mission God gave him because Ninevah was a known enemy of Israel where the people were violent and disobedient to God’s law. The bible doesn’t say that Jonah had ever been to Ninevah before and it was a long journey to get there from his home.

This made Jonah afraid to go there by himself and Jonah ran from God. He boarded a boat and took off in the opposite direction of Ninevah. He did not intend to follow God’s plan for his life. While Jonah was on this boat, going the wrong direction, the bible says a strong and violent storm came up threatening to break the boat apart and endangering all of the people on board.

In the chaos, the shipmates came up with a plan to cast lots and see who was responsible for endangering the boat and the lots fell on Jonah. Jonah confessed that he was running from the one true God and he was thrown overboard. With Jonah in the water, the sea became calm and he was forgotten by those on the boat, but not by God. God mercifully sent a big fish to swallow Jonah.

Jonah lived in the belly of that big fish for three days and three nights. During that time, when he should have been dead, Jonah called out in repentance to God. He recommitted to trusting God’s plan and mission for his life instead of his own reasoning and judgment. God caused the fish to spit Jonah up on dry land restoring his life and mission. It was then that Jonah chose to walk out his repentance and he went on to preach the truth to the city of Ninevah and the people there repented and were spared. God used Jonah to reach 120,000 people for His kingdom.

This is more than just an unusual tale to be told to children. The book of Jonah is a depiction of God’s mercy and pursuit of his children. We can learn to trust God, instead of be afraid, if he asks us to do something. God honors obedience and takes care of us. God took care of Jonah in Ninevah and the people responded to his message.

Scripture: Jonah chapters 1-4

Further Study: Proverbs 3:5-6, 1 Peter 5:7

Conversation Starters:

  1. What do you think it was like in the belly of the big fish?

  2. When you read Jonah chapter 2, what words did Jonah say that let us know that he had changed his mind and his heart towards his assignment to go to Ninevah?

  3. What choices can we make when we are afraid instead of running away and trying to hide?

Prayer Starter: Father, you are full of mercy and goodness! We do not have to be afraid of what we cannot see, we can trust you. The Bible says you never leave us and you never forsake us. Thank you for protecting our students at school this year, helping them to obey even when it is hard and teaching them to talk to you about their worries and concerns, so you can comfort and grow them in your peace and love.

@Ashley Nelson 2017


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