Posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 8 February 1998, at 7:44 p.m.
Long after Paul died, the church at Ephesus almost wore almost wore itself out in good works, fighting the good fight. Yet for all their good works and bravery, the Lord Jesus chastised them: ". . . You have left your first love . . . Repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place-- unless you repent."
( Rev 2:4-5)
Christian homeschoolers work hard and do many good deeds. They are brave and fight many good fights because they love Jesus Christ. Some of us who have fought the good fight since September are spent. Others may be battle-weary from constantly contending with headstrong students. Some are raring to go. All of us, however, risk wandering away from our first love: the love of Jesus Christ in our homes and our classrooms. February, a month associated with "hearts," might be a fitting time to examine our hearts, and see if we are wearing out and wandering from our first love. How is the teacher doing?
The routines of our daily lives can quickly become ruts. Day in and day out we do the same old things, the same old way, without thinking why we do what we do: chores, lessons, chores. The big excitement is if someone gets sick! However, a reckoning usually menaces our peace. What is undone yesterday will gum up today's progress, thus dimming tomorrow's hope of finishing on schedule. So, we beg for obedience and plead for diligence. Then we fume or fuss because we didn't get what we wanted. We threaten consequences and slam doors or crater and refuse to talk.
Paul's letter to the Ephesians is practical advice to return us to our first love. He explains in chapters four and five the way believers are to live in the body and in the Christian home. Paul calls Christians "prisoners of the Lord," an appropriate description of homeschoolers because at times the house and the routine may seem as oppressive as a jail.
Nevertheless, when we answered God's call, we shackled our lives to Him and not the textbooks. We are prisoners to the Living God — not some dry, inflexible curriculum guides!
Paul also said that becoming behavior for a godly homeschool mom, or a good wife and sister in Christ is remembering their calling and walking in it, with the right attitude.
Are you satisfied with how you are walking in your calling? I am confident of my calling to homeschool, but I confess my gait and my attitude are a bit wobbly. (See Ephesians 4:1-17.)
Paul told the Ephesians to imitate Christ: be humble, gentle and patient. Christ did the right things for the right reasons, with the right attitude. Would imitating this attitude resuscitate your midyear homeschool plans? Wouldn't showing forbearance to our children in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, be the best lesson plan to teach children how to act?
How we treat on another can energize or devitalize our homes. If vitality is oozing out of my lessons, I may be worn down. Or, I may be face to face with rebellion: sin. Sin saps our spiritual vitality, but Paul tells the Ephesians that as God leads captives out of sin. Moreover, God gives gifts to them. (See Ephesians 4:7-13)
In the midst of the warmest and coziest homeschool, little rebels, unconverted or converted, create situations that shake your confidence in your calling. Never skip over asking God to set your children's hearts free from sin for the Lord Jesus' sake. Look beyond the day's brouhaha to the promise that God gives gifts. Look more for ways to encourage the gifts that God gives to your children as He leads them out of sin.
Remember, no matter how today went, or didn't, God is not thwarted. If you flamed out, or if your child derailed your academic plans today, do not despair or give up. If you were brilliant and if your child did everything perfectly, with the right spirit, rejoice and do not slack up. Set, or reset your heart on obeying Him. He is searching to and fro throughout the earth "that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." (2 Chronicles 16:9)
The comfort of knowing that God is at work, to will and do His good pleasure, disentangles our steps and fills our souls with a passion for God. (See Ephesians 4:14-15) We are growing up in Christ. Becoming preoccupied with side issues that float in with the waves of worry draws our attention from our business: training up the children God gave us. The billows will crash. However, since we are no longer spiritual infants, a few formidable combers will not flip us. Nor will we sink in waves of worry. Spiritual swells must not tempt us to rewrite our curriculum every time a new product comes on the market.
If side issues preoccupy us, we risk burnout; we risk losing our focus and our first love. We may lose control and yell, cleaving our walk from our talk. Worn out, we fail to do our part, which is to speak the truth in love to our children. We must tell them to seek God first and His righteousness and all these things, like a good education, "will be added to you." (Matthew 6:28- 34) We must admonish our children when they miss the mark established by God. We must remember that it is God who is fitting us to be members of His Body. And God is holding us together — us and our children — so that we might be built up in love. (See Ephesians 4:16)
The Church in Ephesus had forsaken the love of Christ, for "good works, " grieving Christ. If February finds you worn out and wandering, now is a good time to return to your first love. Open your heart to Christ; lay your plans for the next five months before the Lord. Let Christ recharge your passion so that you might complete this year not just somehow, but triumphantly.
©Barbara Smith February 1998