My husband came home thinking it was a normal evening. It only took one look at the countertops littered with school supplies to know that he was wrong. The school supply muse hits me suddenly, roughly about a month or two before we are even nearing the home stretch of summer.
Label-maker in hand my son stood beside me carefully printing and peeling scores of neat and tidy labels to be delicately placed on each sharpened, Ticonderoga pencil and Pink Pearl eraser. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Now we have had three pregnant book bags stuffed to the brim hanging on our hooks, gathering dust. My husband knows I am weird; he doesn’t understand me, but he embraces the mystery.
Their bags are neatly packed and ready months before our hearts are ready for the change of routine. There is something about having everything they will need and a few extras at home for replenishment that settles this momma’s heart.
The jarring reality of sending these souls with whom my soul is most at home out into an unknown school year with unknown challenges is somewhat mitigated knowing I am sending them with well-packed, love-laden book bags.
Every year, after the whirlwind of label making and crayon counting, my soul realizes in a fresh way the incredible gift that is Jesus’ supply of the Holy Spirit to His children.
Far more than a bag of inanimate objects or tools, God saw fit and had planned from before time took its first tick to supply His children with His indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows up in the Old Testament in the Book of Beginnings, hovering over the created world, protecting and preserving. He came upon and inspired various prophets, priests and kings in intermittent yet powerful ways. Yet, as William Barclay succinctly writes, “In the Old Testament…the experience of the Spirit is not an experience for the common man or for the every day.”
When Christ shared a last meal with His young and inexperienced group of fishermen-turned-itinerant preachers, He already had their book bags packed. He would be leaving them for far more than a six-hour school day, and He knew exactly what the future would hold for His disciples.
They were petrified at the thought of His leaving, but He reassured them that it was indeed better that He leave them. He knew the Supply of the Spirit He would offer to them following His Resurrection (John 14). They would have all that they would need and more than their Jewish minds could have ever imagined.
Never in their wildest dreams could the disciples have imagined that the Spirit of God who came upon the celebrated prophets occasionally would come to make His home in each of them constantly. And He does the same for us. This truth should shock us, should shake us and support us.
The Holy Spirit is, indeed, person, not a thing or an energy or a power. Better than a book bag of gadgets or maps or money or elixirs, God supplies His children with His own constant presence and power within.
Yet, so many of us know so little of His comfort, conviction, reminders and power. We try to live the Christian life with our own meager supplies and from our own paltry power. And we wonder why we are joyless, hopeless, disappointed and disillusioned far more than we care to admit.
When I pass by the boys’ fully-prepared book bags daily, I am reminded that God has fully-prepared me for the coming year through His Spirit.
You and I do not know what the year ahead holds; we don’t even know what tomorrow or the next ten minutes hold. Yet, we have an infinitely good Father who gave His perfect Son who gave His Holy Spirit to supply us with all we will ever need to get home to Him. Better than a stuffed book bag, God has seen fit to stuff our limited and broken souls full of the Third person of the Trinity.
With Him, we can march confidently into the unknown year, smiling at the future (Proverbs 31: 25).