Perspectives with Rev. Clarence Witten


Back to School

I still remember my first day of school even though it was 50 years ago. My mom took me on the city bus, and we walked from the bus stop with another mom and her daughter Irene. She was my sweetheart for years. 

In class Matthew, who sat in front of me, turned around on that first day and asked, “Do you want to be my friend?” It was a friendship that lasted through my grade school. Little did I know that would be the first day of 16 years of school.

School is a huge part of all of our lives, whether we like it or not. At least for a time, our lives and schedules revolve around it. It affects the rest of our lives: the job we do, the house we live in, maybe the car we drive, and perhaps even the person we marry. School’s a pretty big deal.

The point of all this? 

How about… kids, easy on the video games; buckle down and do your homework. 

And I guess it’s: parents, encourage your kids in their school work; better yet, work with them (without doing too much of their projects and homework as I’ve been guilty of doing).

And it’s wishing all you teachers well: wisdom and perseverance for the task. And loads of thanks for all you do. You are the heart of the school. 

And maybe (for peace in the family, my wife being one of them) I should also express my appreciation for all those bus drivers who get our kids to school safely and without harming each other.

Yes, school is important. Yet there’s yet another ‘school’ that’s as important, actually more so. It’s what we might call the ‘school of the soul.’ 

In our culture we emphasize and invest so much in learning information and skills for life. But how much do we consider learning that fills the soul. 

The Bible tells us that there is a God who’s obvious to all who have their eyes open (see Romans 1:20). And it says that we’ve been created to know this God personally (Acts 17:27). In fact we’ll never be fulfilled or at peace until we do (John 6:35).

For me, learning about God and discovering that I could enter a relationship with him through Christ (John 1:12) affected me more than all my 16 years of formal education. 

It gave me more than a job, a house, and a car. It gave me things like peace within (you can’t put a price on that) and a sense of purpose. 

Getting to know God also transforms our morals. It gives power to overcome addictions. It blesses our relationships. And of course it promises us the most amazing life after this one.

The point of all this? Whether we’re young or older, it’s wise that we consider the ‘school of the soul.

There’s really only one textbook (written by God himself with the help of a bunch of writers), the Bible. There are schools around to help. We call them churches. The best way to learn is in the company of other learners to wrestle and discuss with. And the very best teacher is God himself, what we call the Holy Spirit.

Being the beginning of September, I wish you all a great school year as students, families, bus drivers, and teachers. I also encourage us all to not forget to enroll in the ‘school of the soul.’ There’s tons of good stuff to learn. Dig in and enjoy.

Pastor Clarence Witten

Community Christian 

Reformed Church

Dixon’s Corners

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