As a 17 year old girl, I’d always thought that Christian gap years were, simply put, … a waste of time, distracting a young fool (myself) from life’s goals, from getting qualified so that God could use me somehow in the future. Now, obviously I knew I was being dramatic, and that a gap year could be useful, but … rarely. It seemed merely a convenient opportunity to put the breaks on education, put your feet up, gain 20 kilograms and get NO WHERE in life.
I now know my thinking was flawed in every way possible, of course, and that these statements, had I shared them at the time, would simply have spawned some fiery comebacks, not at all thwarting my headstrong, mulish opinions. These were the thoughts of a child, you see.
And so, of course, as you would have guessed, at 18 years old I reluctantly found myself taking a gap year to study the Bible at a Theological college. What a colossal waste of an entire year of my life this will be, I thought. I could just learn about the Bible from the comforts of my home, avoiding the public transport with ventilation so poor that one may simply assume they had stepped into the stomach of a dying whale. Jonah didn’t realise how good he had it… Looking back on this mindset now, I am astonished that I was not stuck down by lightning right then and there.
Ironically enough, God used my gap year in the same way He used the whale that tried to feast on Jonah for three days. You see, I only agreed to this gap year to use it as a bridge between moving from a rural country town, having been homeschooled for ten years, to the bustling, inner city of Sydney and then straight off to university. I would make friends, get used to city life, and learn about taxes. I’d earn bonus points if I learned a thing or two about the Bible!
“Do you want to use your Gap Year for Jesus?”
During this gap year, I was trapped in the stomach of the whale that I most detested … with God. I concluded that I could either concentrate on the stomach lining of the whale, all of the negative aspects of this gap year I could think of, (highly insignificant and petty grievances I may add), or I could actually pay attention and listen to God.
To my frustration, while struggling to keep my life under control, God and the rest of the world were right … I viewed this Christian gap year as a trivial distraction from being successful and becoming qualified, but I had it backwards. So. Drastically. Backwards.
"He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.” John 3:31
I discovered over my year of studying the Bible, among many other things, that God doesn’t require degrees, certifications, skills or even us. Acts 4:13 says that Peter and John were unschooled, yet on one occasion Christ used Peter to bring 3000 men into the family of Christ (Acts 2:41)!
I considered the gap year a distraction, yet in reality, I was idolising education, and that became a barrier between Christ and myself. God wants to know us; He wants us to spend time with Him and learn about Him. Instead of distracting me from life, and from becoming qualified enough to serve Christ later, this one year dedicated to learning about Him removed all distractions, and revitalised my faith and my relationship with Jesus. My gap year offered me the opportunity to question and study my faith in depth, deepening my roots in the Bible, and giving me a basis and tools to dissect and understand difficult themes of the Bible. I learned and was mentored in how to share the gospel more confidently, while learning about global missions. I discovered, to my horror, that God’s plan is actually better than mine, even if I don’t know it, and that He can work even in my failures for His good. At the same time, I developed new friendships, was encouraged by amazing testimonies of peers around me, had fun! AND even settled into Sydney life and learnt to do my taxes.
“My gap year offered me the opportunity to question and study my faith in depth, deepening my roots in the Bible, and giving me a basis and tools to dissect and understand difficult themes of the Bible.”
In the midst of my chaotic life, with all of my goals and aims for the year or decade, I learned that I need to ALWAYS put God FIRST. He wants to know and love me, and He wants me to love Him before all other worldly things.
And He wants that for you too.
Do you want to use your Gap Year for Jesus?
Check out our opportunity listings for different ways to dedicate your gap year to Christ.