Often, I forget the purpose of educating my children. I lose perspective and see it as a daunting task filled with chapters to be read, reports to write, phonics to sound out, number charts to memorize. I get caught up in the mundane. The teaching of ordinary stuff. I am drowning under waves of lesson plans, memorization, and the constant need to prod my children along in their learning. Sometimes, I forget that this education stuff is really about discipleship and I teach them to be frustrated, impatient, and overwhelmed.
When I refocus, I remember my greatest desire in the education of my kids is that they would see learning as a life long pursuit that enriches their lives and helps to point to the divine purpose God created them for. His glory.
That the mornings tracing maps with tiny fingers in geography will open their eyes to God’s heart for the world and the vast expanses of His creation. That great literature will inspire imagination and inspiration, that they will feel the range of human emotions through the worn pages and that the knowledge of those depths will stir them. That a love for music will open their minds to the beauty of worship in all it’s forms. That history would spell out God’s sovereign reign over all that happens. That even the atrocities speak of His glory in their midst. That language would open the door to effectively communicate and evangelize a dying world with eloquence and compassion. That while watching God’s creation, the heavens dancing, suspended and glittering in the night they would witness a creative and loving designer. That their hearts would be filled with a love for God’s word.
How the heck do we do all that?
We don’t. We can’t. We cannot turn hearts, redeem souls, open minds.
We must trust it to the one who can. We must learn to work out of obedience not because of the outcome. We truly don’t know the outcome of our years trying to disciple our children. God does not promise our children’s salvation simply because we are faithful mothers. He does not promise that our sowing seeds into our children’s lives will bloom and a great harvest will be reaped. It is He alone that can cultivate the soil for our seeds to take root.
This realization causes a powerless dependency on God. A need to trust. We must be faithful, but we must also rest in the outcome of our children. There is no one curriculum or form of education that will achieve my desired results
But there are guidelines for discipling our kids. It is written in His word. It is the authentic relationship we have with God. It is our children seeing us walk with God, including our failures, our trials, our frailties, and walking along with us. It is the years of seeing our obedience and learning to imitate it. My children are not going to suffer indefinitely if we don’t get to a worksheet or they can’t remember all the irregular verb tenses off the top of their heads. But if they don’t see an authentic relationship with God in their parents, we’ve failed in our calling.
This doesn’t mean we don’t hit the books or work faithfully in the daily things that we learn. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in a high academic standard but it does mean that there is more peace in the process.
I know it’s of more importance that we get less done and they see that mommy is working to extend grace and patience even when she’s strict, than getting the work finished with mommy yelling, stressed out, and losing her temper. We’ve had a lot of days like that during our homeschooling journey and even if we are gaining ground in our lesson plans, we are losing the battle of discipleship.
So yes, we do need to teach them stuff and the overstuffed bookshelves display our desire to do it well and with depth, but there are things of greater importance than even that.
But what about college? What about having a good education? I hear so many well-intentioned parents say that their goals for their children are a good college education and their happiness. To say nothing of their salvation, their pursuit of holiness, their sacrifice and love for others even at the expense of said happiness. I am not anti-college and I’m certainly not against my children pursuing a higher degree but it’s not my only aspiration for them. It’s definitely not my highest.
Any security outside of God is an apparition. A ghost of something that doesn’t really exist. I know a lot of people with college degrees who are in the same boat we are in financially. And even if they are successful in this life, by what standards? We have no promises or assurances other than those given by God. I want to let them go and pray they pursue God with everything. If college is where God can best use them, then I am all for it. But if not, I am preparing to release them under His providence.
Would we be willing to send them as the Moravian mothers standing on the docks watching as their children waved goodbye, knowing that they would never see them again? That their children would not have security in this world, that their happiness would not come in circumstances but in the joy that only comes from seeing things through God lenses.
Would we consider this a worthy aspiration for our child?
The Moravian movement inspired hundreds of young missionaries to travel to distant pockets of the world. Their attrition rate was so high that they often packed their meager possessions into coffins so they could be shipped home upon their deaths. The vast majority died within the first couple of years. Two Moravian missionaries purposely sold themselves into slavery in the West Indies to evangelize the other slaves. Most of them saw no harvest in their lifetimes.
But they sowed their very lives as seeds that were crushed into the earth, for God to reap the harvest for His glory.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose. -
Jim Elliot (Christian Martyr)
My children may not be called to this. They may fulfill their callings by finishing college and joining corporate America, it may be seen in the tender heart of a mother nourishing and discipling her children, or in the tedium of the nine to five.
It may be any of these things, or none of them. But in everything, I pray hard. Because we are called to be obedient and faithful. I must trust and release. I must focus on obedience to Christ. Sometimes we must choose the better part and when we crack those books in the morning, I remind myself that finishing all the lessons by noon isn’t going to sow to these souls as much as a peaceful mama.