What does a new school year mean to you? It can mean new classes, new teachers, new clothes and supplies, some new friends – maybe even boyfriends, new activities, and always new impressions. When you go back to school, there’s always that one person who leaves you asking the question “What happened to him/her over the summer?” Your impression of this person in May was one thing, but when you see them in August or September, you begin to view them differently. Maybe they look different, maybe they’re friendlier and more out-going, or maybe their maturity level has grown? Every year you get to decide who you want to be and how you want other people to view you. Sure, you may have gone to school with the same people since elementary, but you always get a little chance to start fresh each time. So, who will you be this year and what will you take with you?
I’m sure you all have a backpack (or bag of some sort) that you will carry with you. What will you put in it this year? Obviously, you’ll have books and school supplies, but what will you take with you spiritually? In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil…having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”(Ephesians 6:10-17).
So let’s be practical, clearly you can’t take actual armor with you (besides, it wouldn’t fit in your backpack). What you can do is tell the truth, do what you know is right, be studied in the gospel, have faith, be sure of your salvation, and know God’s word. You can even fit your Bible in your backpack! The armor of God is tools He has given us to help us “stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Here’s what you shouldn’t carry with you: old sin and doubt and guilt and shame that will weight you down and make it hard to start the new school year off right. If your hypothetical backpack is filled up with past mistakes, there’s no room for all that armor. Make a choice to accept that God forgives those who ask for it (1 John 1:9) and then carry on, filled with the confidence that you have Him on your side.
I know it’s not always easy to have the full armor of God with you all the time. It takes courage to be a Christian and tell others about your faith in Jesus, but God says, “Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5-9). God has promised he won’t leave those who love and seek Him. How awesome is that? This year, you can be that girl that everyone sees a change in. With God on your side and his armor in your backpack, you can’t go wrong!