Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Do you ever worry about the future? Do you feel anxious about where you will be next year, or in five years or maybe have concerns about your longer term future? As a homeschooler, do you feel anxious that you don’t have a plan beyond the end of the week (or even the end of the day)? Or a rough idea for the term or academic year, but not beyond?
There are many blogs, books, articles, resources, curricula and conferences which help equip home educators with ideas, inspiration, resources, support, structures, schedules, equipment and consumables. I think this is a good thing. But the flip-side can be that one becomes overwhelmed by the amount of choice, starts to second guess the child-led approach which is currently serving the family well, and anxiety can creep in. Or at least it can for me!
Another area which can make me anxious is thinking longer term. Is there a pressure as a home educator to prove that your methods are working? Is there a pressure (even when you may confidently state that you are not bothered by goals and targets, and that is a major reason for choosing a less formalised and structured approach) to be ‘keeping up’ with your childrens’ peers in the mainstream education sector? Is there a pressure to ‘perform’, to demonstrate that your standards of discipline, character formation and inter-personal relationships are as excellent as the academic progress being made?
Other areas where anxiety can creep in is as you seek to know the Lord’s guidance in your life. Should you continue to home school? Are you in the correct employment? Should you be serving elsewhere, perhaps in a more needy area or overseas? Do you need to do any formalised Bible training? How can you effectively serve whilst raising a young family who need so much of your time and attention during the day?
Let me encourage you. Jesus knew that we would be prone to become anxious, prone to take on burdens that He did not give us, that we are prone to listen to the lies of the devil, and do not always see Him as our everything. Let me encourage you that He knows and cares about the concerns of your heart today, this evening, this week, throughout your life.
‘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.’ Matthew 11:28-29. Recently my boys have enjoyed an abridged version of Pilgrim’s Progress and have been particularly struck by the visualisation of a physical burden being removed at the cross. Do you know that liberty?
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4:6-7. God knows and cares about each and every situation. There is nothing too big or too small for Him to both care about, and to have sufficient power to help you in.
It would take a long time to go through all the verses about freedom from fear, about looking to the example of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field to see how much the Lord cares about the smallest of details, about the amazing power of God to intervene in situations which might appear hopeless. Hebrews Chapter 11 brings great encouragement as we look at the stories of faith throughout the Bible; one thing that brings me particular encouragement is that not all of the stories had happy endings at the time. Instead those faithful people trusted in God and looked towards heaven. We are not promised an easy ride, but what we are promised is that God’s grace is always sufficient, and that He will give us the strength, hope, grace and wisdom for each and every day.
This time next week we’ll be on our way to Africa. I don’t know where we will stay. We don’t know what the city will be like, how we will travel around, what kind of food we will eat (and I'm a little limited following recent surgery). We have many unanswered questions. At the same time, there seems to be an endless list of tasks that we would like to achieve before we go, things to sort out in the house, people we’d like to see or speak to, deadlines to get ahead on. But rather than worrying about these things, I can choose to trust that God knows the answers to all of my questions, and that He is faithful.
‘In all your ways acknowledge Him’ the Proverb challenges us. And when I reflected on this as I ran to work the other day, I realised that there were places where I was acknowledging myself, my professional skills, our organisation, our resourcefulness. These things may be gifts of God, but ultimately, it is only God who gives us the purpose for each day.
This next month will bring new adventures, and for the boys, a whole new chapter of their holistic education. I need not worry about lesson plans for that time, nor for a curriculum to slip back into on return, but rather should seek to embrace the unique opportunities of each day. (Noting that our children are young, and also our chosen ‘style’ of home education, were we to categorise ourselves which I try to avoid (!) would be very much a child-led, making the most of each and every opportunity in daily life type approach).
If you have anxieties today, either regarding the short or the longer term, regarding your childrens’ education or about other matters, then bring them to God. He knows. He cares. And He will give you strength and wisdom for whatever today (and tomorrow!) bring.