A year for God
Taking a gap yah!
Do you know Orlando? Orlando Charmon: traveller, humanitarian, explorer, social-activist?
Orlando’s conversation with his friend Tarquin went viral a few years back as he explained why he couldn’t go shopping. He was on his gap yah!
Taking a gap year has for a long time now been part of the choices on offer for school leavers alongside entering the workplace and continuing in full-time education. An opportunity to take some time out of education, to earn some cash and to see the world, to do some charity work, to discover some new experiences. All good things, but for a Christian taking a year out can be so much more!
And there is such a variety of options of what it can look like, there should be something for anyone and everyone; whether that’s spending some time abroad, signing up for a programme which offers a course of training and development, or working a part-time job to fund yourself.
So why should Christians think about taking a gap year and what should they aim for?
Firstly, it is a chance to take a year to serve.
Paul in Romans encourages us to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice”, Hannah offered her precious child Samuel to the Lord, and the ancient Israelites regularly brought what they had as an offerings and sacrifices to God. Our time is a precious gift that can be offered to God too. We can often think we are too busy to serve in some ways but there is huge merit in being able to give up one year to serve sacrificially the needs of the church and the needs of the world. Jesus said to his disciples “the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few”. Young people full of energy, ideas and time are a gift to the church and the world in what they can bring.
Secondly, it is a chance to grow.
Stepping out into new experiences, being placed in positions of responsibility and often in contexts very different than what we’re used to are great opportunities to grow. Think about what you could do that would challenge you and give you the chance to try something different. Often gap year programmes will include space for training, teaching and mentoring and even if you’ve had enough of school, being able to grow not just mentally, but spiritually and practically in experience will all help you to grow up into the person God has designed you to be.
Finally, it is a chance to wait and reflect. The psalmist prays “Be still and know I am God”, the pattern of taking a day of rest was established from creation and Jesus regularly took time out to spend time seeking the Father’s guidance. Taking a year out to pursue God gives us time to listen and explore what his purpose and calling for our lives may look like. Gifts and talents you didn’t know you had may be uncovered as you learn more about yourself, new opportunities and people may open up doors you didn’t know existed and by taking the space to try something different you may find God speak to you in a whole new way.
I did this myself, spending my gap year doing youth work in a local church as I explored what God’s purpose for my life was. I was pushed out of my comfort zone in ways I didn’t expect, I felt God lead me in a direction I hadn’t originally imagined and had a load of fun undertaking what was ultimately a really formational time for me.
I hope and pray it will be for you too!