The Glory of Sanctification In the Homeschool Experience
A recent article in the liberal magazine Parenting covered the concerning statistic that more than one in five American adults now take at least one type of medication to treat a psychological or behavioral disorder, a 22 percent rise since 2001. Similarly, there was a 264% increase of medication for ADHD among women aged 20-44 in the last decade. The author described a young mother who was diagnosed with “situational depression” by her therapist. What was the horrendous “situation” that she confessed was the trigger for her depression? Her children.
When I read stories like this, I grieve deeply. My grief manifests at several levels. Firstly, I am saddened for the individuals involved. Like it or not, agree or not, for those involved, their pain seems real and often incurable. It is a downward spiral. Secondly, I grieve for how little pressure this generation can handle. Comparing our lives to those of our Pilgrim Fathers, I want to hang my head in embarrassment at how weak and thin our backbone actually is. Circumstances that would be but a mere hiccup to them demand that we go to the medicine cabinet in order to alter our mood so that we may cope. Thirdly, I almost get depressed myself when I hear the religious dribble that comes out of the mouths of leading evangelicals who are supposed to be the channels of the genuine hope that is found in Christ alone.
If there is any one motif you will hear from me more than any other in the arena of home discipleship, it is that of vision. Why? Vision affects everything we do. I have seen my fair share of homeschoolers who have become weary or discouraged (or “depressed”) and put their children back in public school. Where there is no vision, homeschooling perishes. In my humble opinion, one of the main reasons parents quit is because they’ve missed the real purpose (vision) of homeschooling—and that of life. If your eyes are enlightened to this Divine purpose, not only will you refuse to give up when things become difficult, it will actually be your catalyst for digging so deep that you will be that tree planted by the waters. (Psalms 1:3)
Wrong theology produces wrong fruit, in our Christian lives and in our homeschooling experience as well. So much of what we hear on contemporary Christian radio and read in Christian literature is how we can be successful and feel good about ourselves. Although it plays well for an audience who has itchy ears, it is bad theology. The scriptures plainly teach that we can of our own selves do nothing (John 5:30) but this disheartening fact is overshadowed and trumped by the wonderful truth that through Christ we can do anything. (Phil. 4:13) Let’s apply this to homeschooling.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier article, the over-arching purpose for homeschooling—yea, for every thing we do—is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is a given. While this is the ultimate reason we homeschool, it is not the exclusive reason we homeschool. What other motivations are there then? Some would no doubt tack on that our children should grow in academic excellence. While I agree with this, it would go further down on my list of priorities when compared to those individuals whose main focus is academics simply for pragmatic success…whatever that is. Others would say that proper socialization is another vital reason we educate our children at home. This is good, but it still won’t establish the necessary vision that will guarantee the spiritual and emotional energy to go the long haul. “Okay,” you say, “What is home education about then?”
Home education, in a spiritual nutshell, is not so much about the education of the child as it is the sanctification of the family. Imagine this scenario. Johnny isn’t doing his school work well. A parent who doesn’t understand this purpose of homeschooling will often become upset and will begin threatening him with punishment or even a return to public school. Intimidation and manipulation are not part of God’s agenda and can lead to our child’s provocation. (Eph. 6:4) This becomes a miserable existence for everyone in the family. However, when we understand that home education is a contributing factor to our sanctification, we will embrace this time rather than falling to pieces and spewing out venomous poison of negativity and thank God that He is teaching us longsuffering, patient endurance, faith and love even as He is teaching our child self control and submission to authority. It changes our entire focus and therefore our demeanor. That which was meant to be a stumbling block becomes a stepping stone.
Furthermore, if sickness or circumstances that are literally beyond our control interfere with our homeschooling week, we fret and stew and begin to worry that Johnny is going to fall behind academically which will lead to him becoming morally adrift which will land him in prison at an early age. Now, we laugh at this obvious hyperbole but let’s be honest with how quickly and how deeply we’re affected by similar thoughts of exaggeration placed there by our enemy. Instead, we know that God is in control of all things. Maybe He’s teaching us flexibility. Perhaps, important as it is, academics have become an idol to us as we would quickly sacrifice the wisdom of what Solomon says for the inspired blank verse of Shakespeare when our schedule is pressed and squeezes us for time. (Where our hearts are, there are treasures will be.) Then again, God could be teaching us the simple yet complicated concept of trusting Him as compared to our own abilities, gifts or curriculum.
Do you see it now? Understanding that God uses both the sweet and the challenging times of homeschooling to sanctify us will significantly alter our response—or reaction—and rather than draining or discouraging us, it will resound to His praise which will in turn bring us joy which will produce a Divine infusion of fresh strength. (Neh. 8:10) Two things will happen at this point. Firstly, we will get excited as we experience a fresh expression of God’s Spirit. Secondly, when our children see God’s grace at work in the depths of our beings, it can’t help but create a spiritual harvest in their lives as well. Talk about win-win.
In the afore mentioned article, one parent was quoted as saying how he looks forward to his medication even as another said it made her a “better parent.” My dear friends, it isn’t a little blue pill that we need to dull our senses to the reality that we are fallen, weak creatures. Neither is the search for utopian “Little House on the Prairie” days the idyllic cure. Rather, it is the knowledge that proclaims God works everything in our lives for His purposes and our eternal good. (Romans 8:28) He is committed to making us more like Him and He is actively and patiently involved in the process. Not only is this genuine home discipleship, it is the very essence of Christianity. This knowledge will not only reap academic success in our children’s lives, but, more importantly, it will sow spiritual seeds that will be harvested in our grandchildren’s lives. Glory to God!
Executive Director, ICHE