The hollow drone of the locusts has begun again, and this slow rhythm of the changing seasons never fails to mesmerize me. The locusts remind me of childhood days spent filling spiral-bound notebooks with pages of fictitious stories about children chasing adventure through forests and fields of wildflowers. I would sit by the window on humid August nights as darkness fell and write until it was too dark to see my scribbled words on the paper.
The locusts were my reminder that long days spent barefoot in creek bottoms and hayfields would soon be replaced by stuffy classroom days with peers and teachers whose expectations stressed me out. The locusts reminded me that I better write my stories now because long evenings lost in the world of my imagination would soon be replaced by seemingly endless pages of math homework and mentally exhausting social studies memorization.
Thirty years later, as I prepare my own daughter for the beginning of a new school year, she has similar sentiments. We lie in her bed in the too-early darkness of August, and she begins the familiar conversation about why I won’t homeschool her and how much she’ll miss long days in the creek and afternoons in Grandma and Grandpa’s swimming pool.
I try to point to the positives, but in all honesty, I also understand. I understand that the freedom of summer dies hard for the child who would rather catch frogs in boggy swamps than spend full days beneath fluorescent lights.
Little Bekah reminds me of the struggles she faced last year: How much harder second grade was than first, that math test that didn’t go well, how much homework she faced each night, and how it all started to feel too much like work and not so much like fun.
After doing my best to encourage her, tucking her under the butterfly bedspread, and turning out the light, I go downstairs and stare at my list of eight prayers for the start of a new school year. I read through the prayers one by one, and it’s like I’m reminding myself of what matters along this journey.
What matters most is not the grade that comes home on the report card. It is not perfect attendance or perfect behavior.
I want my child to know that no matter what happens—no matter how good or how bad this school year happens to be—her hope is in the fact that Jesus is with her.
We’re not so different from our children. We can easily put our hope in pleasant circumstances. When everyone is healthy and sleeping through the night, when the finances are in order, when our husbands stop working crazy late hours, when the dishes in the sink are washed and the house is in order, then we can finally rest.
Sadly, if healthy kids, in-tact finances, present husbands, and orderly homes are our sources of refuge and comfort, we’re bound to be tossed by the winds of our everyday lives. Circumstances change, and none of us is immune to bad days and bad seasons.
Only when we find our hope in the fact that Jesus is with us (even on the sick days, the arguing-kid days, and the messy-house days) do we find hope that cannot be shaken. Jesus with you is the one promise in your life that cannot be taken away from you (see Romans 8:38-39).
Let’s pray that our children will learn to experience Jesus as their hope this school year. Pray that, when circumstances go awry, friendships fall apart, teachers are unreasonable, and expectations fall short, our children will learn that they can trust in the One who has promised never to leave them (see Deuteronomy 31:6).
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on staceypardoe.com
Featured Image by S&B Vonlanthen