A Prayer for Homeschool

It's that time of year again. Boxes of books have arrived at my door. The still stiff spines and crisp pages lay stacked and ready to be opened and consumed by my children's curious minds.

New books and curriculum are exciting. The beginning of a new school year is not unlike a new calendar year. It is filled with expectation and anticipation at what the future holds. A new school year means growth, maturity, and new worlds of knowledge explored.

A Homeschool Prayer

In considering what this new school year holds, I know from past experiences that it will not be all peaches and cream. This is our fifth year of home school and I know there will be days where my kids will be tired, sick, and slow to learn. I know there will be bickering, distractions, and resistance to learning. And I know that I will battle my own impatience, frustration, and weariness.

As I opened my boxes of new curriculum and organized my materials and lessons, my eyes passed over the bulletin board that hangs on the school room wall. On the top corner of the board's frame rests a wooden sign hand carved by my grandfather. It is simply five letters, the name Jesus.

I've kept it in our school room as a reminder of who reigns, who rules, and by whose grace I teach my children. It's a reminder that I cannot home school apart from him. And it reminds me of to whom I want to point my children and all my lessons, for as Colossians 3:2 says, it is in Jesus "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

 

A Prayer for Homeschool

Dear Father in Heaven,

I come before you with a mixture of anticipation and worry. I am excited for a new school year yet also a little nervous about the unknown. It's such a heavy responsibility to teach these children you've given me. I worry about doing it wrong, letting them down, and holding them back. I worry that I'll miss something or fail to teach them something they need to know. I also worry about my weaknesses and not being strong enough to instruct and guide them day in and day out.

Yet Father, I know from your word that you do not call us to something and then not enable us to do what you've called us to. You don't call us because we are already capable or are strong or successful within ourselves. You call us and then make us capable. You strengthen us with your strength.

Scripture is filled with examples of you defying weakness. You enter seemingly impossible situations and flip them upside down. I see how you took Moses who stumbled in speech and enabled him to lead the Israelite's out of slavery. I see how you took an uneducated fisherman and made him a foundational leader in the early church. I see how you took a poor teenage girl and made her the mother of your Son. And you took what seemed to all of Jesus' followers like the end of a dream--when your Son died on the cross--resurrected him and by doing so, ensured our own future resurrection and eternity with you.

Indeed, you do great work with the weak and weary. And weak and weary is what I am.

Forgive me for doubting and fearing. Forgive me for not trusting you. Forgive me for forgetting all you have done. Forgive me for resting in my own strength. Forgive me for all the ways I strive and work apart from your grace.

As I begin this new school year, strengthen me with your grace. Help me to rely on you and you alone. Grant me wisdom to teach my children. Help my words to be gracious, my actions to be honoring, and my thoughts to be centered on you. In everything, may I point my children to you and all they have through your Son, Jesus Christ.

I pray for my children, that you would help them to stay on task and not get distracted. Help them to enjoy learning. Help them to be diligent and hard working. Help them to desire to learn more of you. Help them to grow in their faith this year. Holy Spirit, grant them growth in the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

And throughout this year, may Christ always be at the forefront of our vision. May he be our source, our hope, our guide, and the purpose for everything we do.

In his name I pray,

Amen.

Life in the Already/Not-Yet

Sometimes I feel gypped. Cheated. Lied to. Tricked.

My life hasn't always been like I anticipated. I didn't experience the bliss of motherhood that the baby shampoo commercials promised. My dream job wasn't such a dream after all. The house that was supposed to be better than the last, turned out to be just as imperfect and broken. And no matter how many how-to books I've read, I still struggle in relationships, in my role as a wife and mother, and in making my dreams come true.

The truth is, life is filled with failed expectations. We pursue after dreams only to find that they weren't what we thought they'd be. Relationships let us down. Our bodies let us down. We let ourselves down. That's because life is not as it should be. We live in a broken and fallen world where life is disappointing. It often doesn't "work" or go as planned. We sin and are sinned against.

When life is disappointing, I wonder--how I should handle it? Do I make lemonade from my challenges and view life from Pollyanna rimmed glasses, denying the realities of life? Or do I fully taste the sourness of this fallen world and just accept it like it is? Do I demand life work my way? Or do I lock myself in my house, fearful of the next disappointment and failure?

Or is there perhaps another way to view life altogether?

Life in the Already/Not-Yet

A Holy Tension

Have you ever watched a tight rope walker? We were in the mountains of California this summer where we came across a group of brave hikers. They use a slack line to walk across a deep crevasse where one false move and the hiker would fall thousands of feet to the ground below. Just the thought of it makes me nauseous.

But in many ways, our lives as Christians are like tight rope walkers.

Like a tight rope walker, we live out a holy tension. We are called to live in the world but not of the world. Because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for our sins, we are dead to the power of sin, yet not completely free from its presence. We are called to both be dependent upon Christ (John 15:5) and to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).

In fact, as long as we live on this earth and until Christ returns, we live in what theologians call 'the already-not yet." We are in an in-between time, where life is not one-dimensional. It's not as simple as making lemonade from the bitter experiences of life. Rather, life is an intertwined experience of joy and pain, tears and laughter, beauty and bitterness. We can't accept things as they are but we can't despair as though we have no hope. We cry in sorrow over the horrors that sin has brought, yet we have joy, knowing Christ came to make all things new.

This is the reality of the Christian life. A co-mingling of seemingly disparate conditions. A holy tension of life lived in between the already and the not yet. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul describes this holy tension: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (8-9).

I read this passage and wonder, how can that be? Because when I feel despair, that's all I feel. It overshadows everything else. When I am afraid, fear takes the driver's seat in all my decisions. And to be honest, joy seems all too far away to be co-mingled with anything else.

So how do we live out this holy tension? How do we live in this already-not yet time in history?

Through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Walking the Holy Tension

My study Bible puts it like this "The Christian life is paradoxical because it is built upon the ultimate paradox, the death of Christ, where perfect divinity and beauty was horribly killed. Through that tragedy, life for sinners blossomed...When we taste life in the light of the gospel, we begin to understand Paul's paradoxical logic" (from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible (Black) commentary on 2 Corinthians 4).

It is through Christ's life, death and resurrection that this holy tension makes sense and is made possible. This is why we are comforted in the midst of affliction--because he was afflicted for us. Though we may be persecuted or rejected by others, we can stand confident knowing we are accepted by God because Christ was rejected in our place. We can have joy in the midst of our sorrow because we know that the Man of Sorrow's bore all our burdens at the cross. We can face the disappointments of life with hope because we know that one day sin, sorrow, and disappointment will be no more. We can repent over our sin and not feel the weight of our guilt knowing that God will never leave us because Christ became sin for us.

Yes, life is disappointing. We can't deny it or pretend otherwise. Because of the fall, we will continue to experience disappointments, sorrows, and failed expectations. Yet we do not live like those who have no hope. We continue on in this seemingly paradoxical life, walking a holy tension, through the gospel of Christ. By keeping our eyes focused on eternity to come, we can live in the in-between and remain "afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair."

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

*photo by Michael Pollack under Creative Commons