Back to school: life’s little milestones

Going off to school is just one milestone. But whatever the milestone, our God has plans for us.

Heather Bode

What does this new school year mean for you? Is your first child off to kindergarten? Maybe your last child is entering college. Maybe you are launching back into school for a career change. Maybe you have reached retirement. We tend to look at school years as part of life’s little milestones.

This past May, my family passed a true milestone, something that may be a first . . . and a last. On May 19, the students at Luther Preparatory School (LPS) took their last exams of the school year, and my father, LPS professor Roger Kobleske, ended his preaching and teaching career after serving 46 years in the public ministry. On the same day, he watched his younger brother, Larry, graduate from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, officially entering the public ministry.

Dad took a traditional path to ministry. After prep school and college, he entered the seminary. Uncle Larry took a different path. He graduated from Milwaukee School of Engineering, retired after 36 years, and then entered the seminary.

Two lives, two paths, one common result. Could that have been predicted? No. We never know what each new year of our lives will hold. How will your kindergartener navigate a new school? How will your college student adjust to dorm life? And what about you? School years aren’t just about the students. Milestones mean change for all of us.

And so we begin another school year with words often heard at graduations and confirmations: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11).

My dad says he still remembers the words a pastor spoke at his ordination in 1971: “If you do anything good, give God the glory. If anything bad, you take the blame.” Some burden, huh? But it was good advice then, and it’s good advice now. We plan, but God is in control and deserves the credit. Kids off to school? Retirement? There are many changes and many plans. We change as we pass life’s milestones. God remains faithful.

Like Uncle Larry, what makes someone who has crossed the milestone of retirement want to start over? To go back to school? Uncle Larry says it all comes down to service. He jokes that the word retirement is never found in the Bible, but both of his careers, past and present, focus on service. Isn’t that what we, as Christians, aim to do? Serve in whatever way God intends, no matter where or how. We plan and depend on God’s blessings.

Being a servant of Christ, in whatever milestone of life, is never easy. David understood the pressure: “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5,6).

As students return to classrooms, as the newest called workers join the field of the public ministry, as retirees adjust to a new way of life, and as others move forward with career changes, they all do so with the support of their earthly families and with congregations cheering them on. But let’s not forget that these moments of life are given to us. These milestones are gifts from our gracious, loving, and unchanging God. His plans for us are always good.

Heather Bode lives in Helena, Montana, where her husband serves as pastor of Valley View Lutheran Church.


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Author: Heather Bode
Volume 104, Number 9
Issue: September 2017

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