It’s Back to School and God Is Still Faithful  

A bit of a ruckus in Aisle Four grabs my attention. Stacks of bright notebooks and bins of colored pens separate me from a young father trying desperately to check off the teacher’s list in his hand. A little girl circles about his knees. 

Little fingers fly over items faster than he can stop them. Big strong daddy hands race, picking up dropped pencil cases, pushing back crayon boxes and replacing highlighters. Little girl chatter and a dad’s bewilderment mix with memories. They flip through my mind like the spiral pads lined up in big plastic bins. 

It’s back to school days. 

I whisper inside my head to the man with a glistening drop of sweat on his upper lip, a day is coming when you will no longer mark your year with school’s bookends.  

She will be grown, and what will the world be like then, I wondered?

 Recently I’ve been reminded by an older student, that there is an academic culture into which God fearing young people step and then wonder if there is a place in that sector to place their foot. Privy of conventional wisdom and morality, basic foundations have shifted. Departments are often riddled with disdain for Christianity and academics ridicule Biblical foundation.  

Is it possible to live faithfully surrounded by pagan life and propaganda?

The stories of four young men, in their teens or perhaps early 20’s, ripped from their homes, carried off as war trophies into a godless environment testify to God’s faithfulness regardless of location, station or influence. 

Daniel, taken with his three friends from Judah’s nobility became exiles in the Babylonian court. Taught literature, language, and educated in the country’s culture, they were completely immersed in paganism. 

Those four young people, vulnerable, alone, and completely surrounded by pagan worship testify to us today that God is able to keep our children and grandchildren from defilement.

King Nebuchadnezzar’s goal would assimilate these handsome, skillful, knowledgeable, learned and competent young men thoroughly into Babylonian life.

They would be fit one day to serve in the king’s palace. Like dipping cloth into dye, the plan meant to absorb foreign philosophies, religion and way of life, to change the very fabric of the young men. To complete the transformation, their Hebrew names which gave tribute to Yahweh were changed to invoke Babylonian gods.  

Daniel, “God is my Judge,” became Belteshazzar, “Bel protects his life.”  

Hananiah, “Yahweh is gracious” changed to Shadrach, “command of Aku” (the moon god). 

Mishael, “who is what God is?” flipped to Meshach, “Who is like Aku?”

Azariah, “Yahweh is a helper” became Abednego “servant of Nebo.” 

Some of you parents have left a scared first grader, some will chafe through high school drama and others have settled children into college. You wonder, like we all did, will they emerge strong in faith? 

Four very young men a long time ago, ripped from everything they knew and had been taught, completely immersed in pagan influence chose to stand firm with the help of One True God. And they did. 

I think of this as my grandchildren prepare for a new school year. I remember it as I observe one man overwhelmed with his little girl and long teacher’s list in aisle four. I begin to understand how it feels to sit very much alone in the classroom of higher education from the stories of those students. 

Regardless of what challenges “back to school” represent for you, God is able. He is in the classroom, dorm room, and even on the football field. He is enough for the teacher, parent, and the student. Yet, as members of the body of Christ who have been there, done that, our work isn’t over.

May we diligently and intentionally stand with our younger brothers and sisters immersed into cultures where God is not welcome. Despite the world’s intent to conform them to the image of its culture, may we encourage them to trust the authority of God’s Word. May we battle for them on our knees before the One True God. 

Daniel and his friends remind us He is able to take what is meant to destroy His kingdom and instead use it to build where it isn’t yet. 

It’s possible to remain true to the gospel of Jesus Christ even if it feels as if the entire world is against all for which He gave His life.   

“And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.” Daniel 1:20 ESV

Aisle Four’s ruckus gains momentum as it moves to the backpacks. I take a moment to pray for the man and little girl. I can’t help but smile a bit at the anticipation and excitement, but mostly because it reminds me, God is faithful. 

24 Replies

  1. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Sylvia, I love your writing which always builds my faith. Thank you for picturing so well God’s unlimited presence and power.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Jeannie. I am grateful you find them encouraging. The God of unlimited presence and power. Yes He is amazing!

  2. Nancy Elizabeth Head Reply

    Dear Lord, please help us and our loved ones be and remain faithful to you no matter our surroundings.

    Thanks, Sylvia. God bless!

  3. Jennifer Hildebrand Reply

    Sylvia, my heart pounded the whole time I was reading this blog. I feel so strongly about this topic so THANK YOU for writing so well the hope and power we have as believers!! He is faithful and equips us for where He calls us!! Our favorite book to give to students is Living Among lions by David and Jason Benham. It fits perfectly with this blog!!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Jennifer, thanks for reading and responding. I think you summarized it well, “He is faithful and equips us for where He calls us!” This is God’s grace isn’t it? Thank you for your ministry to so many and maybe even some extra dear to our hearts!! We do appreciate you both and your work with students. I’ll check out the book.

  4. Marilyn Krehbiel Reply

    YES, God is faithful! All the time God is faithful! Anytime everywhere!!! Thanks for your encouragement!! Many blessings on your days!!!!

  5. Shannon Bradley Reply

    I say again, I love your writing! It is a blessing to have someone like you observe the everyday, perhaps mundane, and related it to the larger issues that are so relevant to our lives now. We are right there, having nightly conversations about beliefs and perspectives on origins, science, identity, and orientation along with wisdom and discretion, being heard while being kind. All the while underneath these topics are the issues of belonging, acceptance, security, and meaning.

    Thank you for the reminder of God’s faithfulness in circumstances that seem impossible. God, protect my children and give me wisdom as I do my best to guide them.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Shannon, I appreciate your response more than you can imagine. Prayed for you both as I read this. I know those nightly conversations well. I am so glad you are having them because it means you are aware and involved. I can imagine you and your lovely wife working through these with your children with wisdom and discretion, being heard while being kind. And yes, there are all the other things underneath that you are aware of as parents. I am confident Jesus will lead you step by step, and He will be faithful in your journey. He picked the right parents for some amazing children! May He indeed protect your children and give wisdom and unity to you both as you guide them.

  6. Beth Alisan Reply

    Such a timely and encouraging post, Sylvia. I love how the Bible, its promises and stories, are applicable to every person and every event faced in life. On a side note- I had no idea that the new names given the boys invoked the Babylonian gods.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Beth, thanks so much for reading and responding. I love that about the Bible too. Something I may have read over and over suddenly is fresh, new and oh so applicable. Yes, those 4 young men had a real immersion, didn’t they!

  7. Barbara Latta Reply

    The example of the Hebrew young men give us hope for the children of today. Today’s fiery furnace is still pagan philosophies but God is greater and still a deliverer.

  8. Katherine Pasour Reply

    Your message is beautiful, Sylvia, a beacon of hope for fearful students, parents, and grandparents as the little ones (and big ones) go back to school. God is able! Thank you for sharing.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Katherine! God is indeed able. Sometimes obstacles see huge, but I am so grateful God is bigger.

  9. Annie Yorty Reply

    “Four very young men a long time ago, ripped from everything they knew and had been taught, completely immersed in pagan influence chose to stand firm with the help of One True God.” We need to remember this when we’re tempted to despair at the state of our culture. Thank you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I’m with you! I need to remember God is able and in control. Thanks so much Annie!

  10. Debbie Wilson Reply

    Sylvia, Daniel and his 3 friends are some of my favorite heroes. They provide hope for today as they rose to the top in their hostile cultures. Great post.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve hung out with Daniel and his three friends, and the book has been so encouraging to me. Hope in a hostile culture…yes. Thanks Debbie, for reading and responding!

  11. Rev. Andrew brucato Reply

    important reflection. thanks Silvia