Recently we spent time with friends who are missionaries in the area of south eastern Africa where we previously lived. They live and work in a remote village, in a very tough area spiritually and have a real passion to see Christ glorified. Their four children are home educated, initially perhaps because there were few other options available in that part of the world, but now also because the family see the huge advantages in this style of education.
It was a very encouraging weekend. So many times, my husband remarked that it was wonderful to be with 'normal' people. And this led me to reflect on what 'normal' might happen to mean!
Lately, I've posted a few times about living as strangers and pilgrims in this world, whilst longing for our true eternal home which is in heaven with God. I've felt lonely, at times isolated and often misunderstood. There have been times when I have yearned for some form of comfort or security in this present world, whilst at the same time I've known that this is a futile dream, a chasing after the wind, something of little eternal value. But this last week, spending time with this other family, brought encouragement, refreshment and a renewed challenge. We are not of this world.
The children played beautifully together. Our boys (aged 4 and 3) taught the others about horse chestnuts and hazelnuts, and the different stages in the life of these seeds. Their son (aged 8) taught ours about his Egyptian ducks, the chickens he plans to raise as pets (before perhaps eating them), and other things to do with village life. Together, they conspired to chase the mallard ducks which were feeding nearby, with a desire to skewer them and then roast them on the barbecue (or should I say braii?), and make the livers into pate. And they also fell in the mud. To me, this reflects a 'real' childhood, a freedom, an imagination and an understanding of the world that surrounds us.
Whilst the children played, the adults talked about how life had been over the past three years (since we moved back to the UK). We reflected on how life is full of challenges, sometimes difficult and painful trials and that the Bible makes it clear that these times will come. Yet God does not change, and His faithfulness is certain. We talked of our desires for our children, and our priorities in raising our families. And it felt so 'normal'.
Does finding others who live their lives with a similar purpose and direction mean that what you are doing must be right? No, not necessarily. Does seeing other children being raised with freedom and a desire to understand the world that God has created mean that your educational principles are sound? Again, perhaps, perhaps not. Does it matter whether you feel alone or supported? It shouldn't. I think we all need to beware not to base our security on the opinions of others. But from time to time, God does provide us with encouragement. Indeed, He created us to live in community and to enjoy the special blessings of 'fellowship' (a word which is may become cliched but refers to a really precious relationsip with one another). In the letter to the Hebrews, we are encouraged to 'consider how you may spur one another on towards love and good deeds'. This past weekend was such a time to be encouraged, and I thank God for that.
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure (using font only to enable access in settings with poor internet)