Three days into the fall semester in Gainesville. How are you feeling?
If you are a new student, chances are you are at times overwhelmed with the size of the place, the number of bodies walking around and into you on campus, the newness of the late night hours without worrying about waking your parents. But you just might be settling in to the routine about now. Maybe you have cried because you are homesick or you are just now hitting your stride in your new found freedom. Some of you are looking forward to going home this weekend. Getting back to the familiar and the family, back to that special someone who isn’t here with you in Titletown and that sounds really great to you. Some of you aren’t planning on going home or can’t go home until Thanksgiving or Christmas break. Whatever you are feeling you know one thing for sure, this is a busy place this time of the year!
If you are a returning student, by now you have probably caught up with most of your friends and shared the most significant parts of your summer experience. You are settled back into your routine as well. You have your first classes behind you and you are already planning how to spend your first real weekend back in Gainesville. For some of you that will include a chance to worship on Sunday. For others it will mean a night of hitting up the clubs and maybe a few things that you don’t want to get photographed and pasted on Facebook. You know all too well that the stress of mid-terms and the pains of procrastination will come soon enough. Now is the time to enjoy the beginning of the semester bliss as a student in Gainesville. And that doesn’t even include the fact that the first football game as the defending National Champions begins in a week and a couple of days!
If you are a full-time resident of Gainesville and Alachua County you also might be feeling some things. The sad reality that a trip that should take 15 minutes now takes 30 to 45 because a couple thousand of our closest friends are trying to get somewhere on Archer Road in the evenings or NW 39 Avenue in the mornings. The crazy idea to start the public schools on the same day as the Universities only adds to the frenzy of people trying to find ways to schools on the same mornings and afternoons. Maybe we should start earlier or wait a week to let all of our out-of-town guests figure out the best routes to get where they need to go without having to drive through two or three school zones at the same times parents are trying to get to that new Elementary, Middle School, or High School to drop their babies off for the day. One thing we know is that you never go to Walmart the weekend before classes begin unless you enjoy a battle, waiting in long lines, and having to fight for that last Cartoon character backpack or whatever is the latest craze among the college students! Ha, you thought I was going to say first grader. Seems they have the same taste in book bags often. Just walk around campus and you’ll see what I mean. Sponge Bob never gets old, or so it seems!
With all the problems that the fall can create, this is the best time of the year for me. It’s what makes me love living in a college town. The energy level is crazy. People are everywhere. And while it can be frustrating, it is also an opportunity like no other. It reminds me of the festival of Pentecost in the Bible just after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The entire world was in Jerusalem or so it seemed. That’s when the Lord broke out in a myriad of languages that were understood by the people there. Wouldn’t it be awesome if this fall was the beginning of another breakout of the Holy Spirit and that it started right here in Gainesville among his people and the students from all over the world that gather here? That’s what we have been praying for and longing for. Join us in sharing the good news of Jesus to the students here, or where you live, or praying with us for real revival to begin among God’s people and a true awakening among the non-believers on the campuses of UF and Santa Fe! Wow, I love the fall!