If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1
As Christians, we are called out from this world. We are called to be holy. We are called to live as 'pilgrims', or 'strangers', or as the King James Version would put it, 'aliens' in this world. We will be different, and there are times when this will not be easy. There will be times when you face challenges, sometimes even opposition or conflict, because of the choices you make as you try to live your life in a God-honouring way. And it seems to me that decisions regarding how we raise our children can seem like a minefield.
I could write about discouragement here. I could describe challenging conversations with friends and relatives. I could discuss misunderstanding from within the church, where one would expect to have a similar worldview to the majority. But chances are, if you home educate your children, you know enough of these type of things. It is better not to think too much about the specifics, to try and anaylse conversations or seek to change the opinion of those who are opposed. I find this tiring, discouraging and often futile.
Instead, I'd encourage you to look up.
since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us
throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Men and women of faith have walked before us. Some we know of, through the Bible, or biographies. Others faithfully lived and died in obscurity. But none was obscure to God, and we are encouraged to remember those who walked before us and to run with perseverence. Jesus endured the greatest hardship of all - how can I complain I feel misunderstood when I think of what He went through? How can I complain I feel isolated when I think of his anguish on the cross, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'. And the writer to the Hebrews knew we would face opposition, discouragement, doubt and despondency. Look up. Look to Jesus.
Several analogies compare our faith to training for and competing in a sporting event.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a
crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25
I used to run for my city, and at one point was training more than once per day. I remember several things well:
1) It was tough. At times it was painful. But I knew it was necessary to be able to win
2) It required discipline. I didn't always want to train!
3) It required sacrifice. I wouldn't participate in as many social activities because of training
4) It was lonely. Running mile after mile.
5) People did not understand. They thought I was mad!
6) Focus was necessary. Keep the goal in sight. The race. The finish line
7) I could not get distracted
8) The reward was worth the pain. At least, that was how it seemed then
How much more important it is to exercise spiritual discipline, and to keep focussed. There are times when it is difficult, painful, lonely, exhausting. There are times when there are temptations to look elsewhere, to take it easy, to doubt one's previous convictions. There are times when it is easy to crave comfort and understanding in this world.
Am I talking about home education here, or about the Christian walk in general? Both really. For us, as for many Christian families, the decision to home educate arises out of our convictions regarding how to raise our families and live our lives in accordance with what the Bible teaches. And so, often when people comment or criticise our choices, they are commenting on our faith. The world doesn't mind so much when faith is a 'private' matter, one which doesn't have implications for how you live. It doesn't mind when you look the same as them on the outside, when you have the same goals and motivations, the same concerns and frustrations. With our children, as we seek to honour God, there will be times when the world hates us.
I'm not going to write much more tonight, other than to encourage you. If you can relate to what I am writing, then take heart. Seek comfort and rest in the One who can truly comfort your soul.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
PS: Just read an encouraging quote from Heidi St John on a similar topic:
Parenthood is demanding. It’s iron-man-marathon building, this thing
we’re doing. This thing that carries with it the weight of eternity and
the promise of a new generation is worth every ounce of time we put
into it. Raising children is a privilege denied to many. Don’t take it
- 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.