1. Breaks invite us to explore new expressions of faith, hope, and love. We are called to trust God in different venues, with fewer of our trusted resources at our disposal, in less comfortable circumstantial climates, with less of a schedule and routine to guide us. We are called to hope in God, his daily deliverance, and his final redemption in ways that we can sometimes avoid when we’re settled into comfortable patterns of life. And we are provoked to love our brothers and sisters in creative and seasonal ways when our go-to demonstrations of love are rendered impossible by lack of proximity. Ultimately, God providentially uses change to draw our eyes upward to the one who is unchanging.
2. Breaks provide focused times of extended rest and unforced labor (Prov 6:6-8). Breaks give us a chance to unwind, relax, and refresh. It’s essential that we take time to do this, especially if we’ve run ourselves ragged during the last three weeks of school. Rejoice with people as they hit the temporary finish line — enjoy the celebration. At the same time, they’re heading into a unique season. There’s much less accountability during a typical school break in terms of how hard you work and how much you get done. While this is a breath of fresh air, it’s also important to think through and plan out how you want to spend your time, and it’s important to love others in the same way. If you hear someone talking about their grand goals, follow up with them and ask how it’s going. Give them gentle encouragements to stay the course and fulfill those good intentions.
3. Breaks give us space for less-hurried reflection. The constant din of college life tends to drown out substantial reflection. Like so many scattered papers on a cluttered desk, our thoughts tend to get scattered and fragmented as the semester goes on. It’s helpful and important to seize the opportunity of the break and to carve out time to reflect, meditate, evaluate, plan, and organize your thoughts.
4. Breaks challenge us to care via distance and to follow up faithfully. It’s easy to be out-of-sight/out-of-mind in college ministry. People are here and then they leave, and the revolving door can be pretty intense. Breaks challenge us to care for people when we don’t see them every day; to remember the ways we said we’d hold someone accountable; to write down the date of that family death and to call them on it; to remember that someone has no family to celebrate Thanksgiving with and to invite them over.
5. Breaks provide opportunities to see new shades of God’s multi-colored grace. As seasons of the year change, we see God’s creative power in new ways. And as seasons of our lives change, we see God’s sustaining power in new ways. We are tempted to believe that our stability is due primarily to our circumstances; that our growth has been fostered mainly by elements of our structure and schedule; that our sense of contentment must be based on our circumstantial consistency. But as we walk through seasons that have their own unique challenges (like school breaks), we see and experience unique expressions of God’s faithful mercy toward us. Fresh difficulties are met by fresh grace, and we get to see and worship.
– Seasonal Love: Caring for College Students through the Breaks (Part 1)
– Seasonal Love: The Affections of a Full-Hearted Minister (Part 2)
– Seasonal Love: Caring for College Students through the Breaks (Part 3)