Dad, Where Is Your Heart?

In school, I preferred fill-in-the-blank questions to essay questions. I think that might be true for most of us. Consider for a minute a special fill-in-the-blank that could save your children from abandoning the faith. Are you game?

What if our children were to fill in the following statements about us?

_____________________ is most important to my father.

My father talks most about ________________________.

I don’t know about you, but I find these rather heavy. I believe that if my children answered them candidly, I might get a picture of who I really am. Unfortunately, I may not want to know the answers!

In Judges 6:13, the Lord is speaking with Gideon. The Lord has just told Gideon he is a mighty warrior, and He is with him in spite of the fact that Gideon is acting in a very cowardly way. Then we read, “And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Now what does this verse have to do with the fill-in-the-blank statements above? I think there are several points worth considering.

If the fathers had been living God-fearing lives, Israel would not have been in the mess they were. God was chastening the nation because the fathers were not living as God had called them to. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years” (Judges 6:1). The fathers were not telling the children that all of this oppression was a result of the fathers’ sin. Instead, they seemed to blame the Lord for having abandoned them, as if He didn’t love them anymore. Actually, the truth was the Lord did love them and wanted to punish them so they would cry out and return to Him. Dads, are we experiencing hardship or chastening that is a result of our lack of devotion and love of our Lord?

The fathers were actually telling their children about the wonders the Lord had performed. Many dads have felt they were doing all they needed to do by telling their children about the Lord. Maybe they were even going so far as to read to them from a Bible picture storybook at bedtime. Even though that is good, it isn’t enough. You see, our deeds speak for us. During the day, we will automatically talk about what really is important to us, and we will live out our values. These fathers were telling their children about what God used to do. However, all children need to see fathers living their lives dedicated to serving a living, loving God. Our children should have fathers who love the Lord so much that they can’t help but talk to their children about the tender mercies and goodness of the Lord Jesus. Our children will grow up like we really are, not who we tell them they should become.

Instead of the Lord receiving the blame for difficult circumstances, He should be praised for His goodness when He is disciplining us or leading us through times of trial. Do we only love Him when times are good? Do we want to teach our children to love us only when they think we are being kind to them?

I pray this, “Oh, Father, may we demonstrate our love for You constantly to our children. May we be quick to confess our failures and not blame the consequences of our sin on You. May our children see their father praising You, Lord, and being quick to pray to You. May You be the first and most frequent topic on our lips. May my children know by my actions that You are the One I love more than anyone or anything.”

Evaluating Your School Year

As this school year draws to a close, do you begin to think about what your children have accomplished over the past months? Does your mind fill with thoughts about what to use for school next year?

You may be excited about the academic and character growth of your children through the past nine months. Praise the Lord! This is exactly what God would have us thinking about our year. He would have us look for the growth, benefits, blessings, and anything positive that we can focus our thoughts on. He wants us to be grateful for what He has done in and through our homeschooling. Will we delight in it?

Perhaps these thoughts are far from you. You may even be thinking, as I have from time to time, that school would be a better place for your children. May I encourage you that this is not true. Sending your child out to a school will not ease whatever difficulties you are experiencing with him at home. God has placed both of you in an environment where, day in and day out, you are faced with problems and forced to work on them.

Let me share an analogy concerning character deficits that we may see in our children. I will use a specific one, but this could apply to any of them. Children do not learn their multiplication tables by reciting them one time. They learn them by repeating them over and over, day after day. In a similar way, a child who lacks self-discipline in applying himself to his schoolwork will not, with one correction or encouragement, become a diligent child. He may not become diligent even with a year, or two, or three. However, perhaps with ten, or twelve, he will.

Are we, as mothers, willing to pay the price? Will we choose not to grow weary in training up our children so that when they are old they will not depart? It is a sacrifice on our part. It takes great reliance on the Lord and the setting aside of our desires to see quick results. Be encouraged! The battle is not ours, but the Lord’s!

What about next year? How would the Lord have us approach our plans? I think He would have us commit those thoughts and plans to Him in prayer. It will be of greater benefit to us, and our families, if we will keep our thinking regarding our next year’s school focused on the Lord rather than on any “comparison” thinking regarding other homeschoolers. It is an easy trap to begin feeling like everyone else is doing more with their school, having better results, or using a curriculum that is more effective. However, the Lord has an individual plan for each family based on the needs that are found there. May we set our hearts to seek this plan out with our husbands, and then be committed to following it.

These past few weeks, as Steve and I were praying and discussing schoolbooks for next year, we were faced with a decision. Sarah has loved one of her school courses this year, particularly because of the self-paced, work-text format of the curriculum. She would have been very pleased to use that curriculum for all of her studies next year. In one of the workbooks of this course, though, was the summary of the story of Dracula. As we prayed about the curriculum choices for Sarah, we came down to feeling we could not go wrong by following the principles of purity and holiness the Lord has placed on our hearts. Therefore, we chose, with Sarah’s wholehearted approval, a publisher whom we have not known to compromise by presenting evil in their materials.

If we do have areas of concern about our children’s character or their academics, how can we best approach it? Again, seeking the Lord in prayer is always the starting place. I will frequently bring a problem to Steve. He says to me, “Let’s pray about it.” A few days later, after a prayer focus on the situation, we will discuss the problem when we have a quiet, talking time. We will see what the Lord is leading us to try. Even with a “plan” on how to work with the problem, we still need to be committed to keeping it as a prayer focus. Here again, the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.

May we take these last weeks of our school year as a time to rejoice in the Lord’s goodness in allowing us the privilege of teaching our children at home. May we reflect on the growth and blessings that have occurred over these months. May we cry out to the Lord for His wisdom and direction for decisions regarding next year.

Posted in: Mom's Corner