I can’t really remember much about preparing for uni at the beginning of last year. I remember being worried about forgetting something I’d need and seeking out several online checklists to ensure I got hold of it all. Then of course there are other types of preparation, such as applying for accommodation, looking at what societies I might like to join, and trying to seek out future flatmates and coursemates online. For some people, it may include reading certain books or journals in preparation for the course, or even thinking about a budget for the year.
Pretty much any change in our life requires preparation. People in the Bible regularly experienced change. As such, we see many people being required to prepare for important events within their lives throughout the Biblical narrative. In the story of the flood, (Genesis 6), we see Noah is commanded to take every type of edible food to store on board, and in Exodus, the Jews escaping Egypt take not only all their own belongings, but also gold and silver given by the Egyptians. Furthermore, in Proverbs 6 and 21, we are told it is wise to prepare, and thus keep ourselves from poverty.
In contrast to this, we see the disciples who were commissioned to proclaim the gospel in Matthew 10 are told to take no money, food or spare clothing, and to reply on the generosity of those they would preach to - in effect not to prepare at all. Of course, we aren’t usually going to university primarily to teach others the gospel, and our situation is different to that of the disciples because we’ll be spending much longer in the same place, but could this still teach us something? For me, I think it ties in well with Matthew 6, where Jesus says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
So then, what does this mean for us? Are we to prepare, or are we not? Clearly there’s a place for preparation, and I think this is probably it; certainly, owning kitchen implements is useful for cooking, and it would also be better not to go significantly into an overdraft, given that Romans 13 recommends we “owe no one anything,” and budgeting can be a good way to avoid that. However, it is similarly important not to be too worried about the future, and to trust that God’s love for us and His plan for our future will ensure our basic well-being, even if we find we’ve forgotten to buy a bowl.
Written by SCM Member Patrick Ramsey, who is part of Lancaster SCM.