Grace Christian School (the name I use on our records) is officially starting in just a few weeks. Summer has flown, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how I miss our routine. I really enjoyed the loose routine for a while – not having to get down to business early in the day and NO school work. It was fun! But it quickly turned from enjoyable days in the swimming pool and bike riding to bored kids and a Mama who misses her regular scheduled programming.
Our family thrives on routine. I have had my kids on some kind of routine since they were infants and it’s carried over into their school years. Aside from quiet time, summer break is when we just kinda toss the routine out of the window. And like I said, it’s fun for a bit. After so long, I get stir crazy.
I’m itching to get back to it. School supply sales are all around, county schools are starting up, and I’ve begun setting up our school area.
However, I must confess something.
I am scared of homeschooling again this year.
You’d think fear would be alleviated by the confidence I gained in teaching my two school aged children for an entire year. I have one who was a beginning reader that reads well now. My up and coming first grader has gone from knowing no sounds whatsoever to putting together small words and reading short sentences. The crazy three year old has somehow picked up counting to 15 without much help. By God’s grace, we have accomplished a lot this last year. It has been incredible to witness.
But self doubt creeps in. I play the comparison game and wonder if my kids are keeping up with their peers. Or I consider if the curriculum we use is enough for them. I beat myself up, thinking I could do more and better as their teacher.
Phew! As I was mulling over these thoughts, the Lord reminded me that teaching my kids will not always bring instant results. It’s a process of building one skill on top of the other. It took months for my first grader to learn his letter sounds and to get to the point where we could begin reading. However, just a little each day prepared him for one of the most special moments I got to experience: reading his first book. Each tiny step brought us to that victory, but it did not happen right away.
It’s a process that I have to stop fearing and instead hand over to the Lord. I have to rest in knowing that He gives me grace for each day and guidance as I make decisions for their well being. I can praise Him for the victory I have already witnessed.
I look back over the last school year and I see a lot of things that I would have done differently. I also realize that we were slammed from the get go – between my grandma passing and experiencing a pregnancy that ended in miscarriage. Money was tight, stress was high at times, and I had many days where I didn’t even know if I could get through it. But we did. By the grace of God, we sat down at that dinner table and we got through. Maybe it’s remembering how rough those days were that make me so nervous.
“Look back to learn, not to dwell. Look forward to achieve, not to fear.” -Unknown
But I have to remember how good God was in the midst of it. Life didn’t care about my plans, but God was good to me and carried us through each day.
Maybe this is your first year homeschooling or you’re a well seasoned homeschooler. Perhaps dread is sneaking upon you as you count down to your first day. Know that these feelings are completely normal and you’re not alone. Yes, we are called to this journey of educating our children, but we are still human. We still second guess our abilities and wonder if we can do it all over again.
There will be days where it doesn’t feel like you can. The best advice I can give is to pray, give it to the Lord, and take it one day at a time. We tend see the entire year as we look at our workbooks and lesson plans. Just focus one day at a time.
That’s how the Lord helped me through last year and I believe He will do the same this year.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17
I used to think that if I gave up enough, I would finally be close to God. Or maybe if I did more for Him, He would feel nearer.
I felt better on my good days where everything on my spiritual to-do list was checked off. If I didn’t mess up a ton like normal, I was doing pretty well. To me, God was most pleased with me on those days where I achieved top-notch spiritual greatness.
On my bad days? Forget it. I’d wallow in self pity over how I couldn’t ever get it right. I’d ask for forgiveness, but wouldn’t really feel any better.
My standing with God depended more on me and what I could do than what He could do.
I was justified by grace through faith, but my sanctification was more about following a checklist of rules. If I appeared to have attained some kind of spiritual superiority, that meant I was growing. If I threw out CDs or rolled my eyes at that friend who listens to Christian rock, I was spiritually enlightened.
Well, God bless me. I’m somethin’ special.
Puhhhlease. Spare me.
This is a really ugly thing to see. It’s embarrassing to realize that my need for affirmation and pats on the back is what drove me to make a lot of foolish decisions early on in my Christian walk. I said I was serving God, but I was really more concerned about making myself happy and looking good with a big ole church girl sticker branded on my forehead.
I have so many regrets.
I’ve realized that I’m my absolute best day – I’m still a big ball of yuck. I’m still an old sinner; unworthy and unfit for the kingdom of God. BUT BY GRACE, I am saved. By grace, I’m still here. By grace, I am growing and learning.
Coming to this realization has been really scary, because letting go of the checklist is similar to jumping off of a cliff. When you depend on the black and white rules for every jot and tittle of your life, it’s very scary to say “I don’t know if that’s right.” Words like compromiser and backslider come to mind and really, it’s quite terrifying.
The Bible speaks out against legalism, but mark it down, it still preaches against sin just as hard. The difference is this – when we are being sanctified, it is about God working through us. It is about getting in the Word and allowing it to transform our lives. It is about getting to the nitty gritty truth deep down inside that no one, not even us, knows about. Sanctification is not about adopting more rules. It’s about God changing our desires from the inside out and bringing about obedience through that change.
My pastor said it well last Sunday when he explained repentance like this: Wishing to do better isn’t repentance. God changing your desires from the inside to live righteously is repentance.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
God wants His people to be free. Free from rules or a moral code? No way. But free. We are imperfect sinners with a lot of growing to do – no matter how old we are. We will fall and will realize more and more as time goes just how much we need the Lord. How wonderful is it that we can go to the Lord for grace, forgiveness, and then “stand fast” in liberty to get back up and keep moving forward for Him. How amazing it is that we can bring our ugly to the Lord and He can transform it into something beautiful.
The devil wants us constantly beating ourselves up, doubting our salvation, and being afraid to even open our Bibles because ultimately – it gets our eyes off of the Savior. It destroys that abundant life that God desires for us to have. We may feel good with the initial checklist achievement, but eventually we our weighed down with the task of “trying to get it right.”
We can’t do it without Jesus. We can’t have Heaven without Jesus and we can’t be changed without Jesus. Vain self effort doesn’t only apply to the ones who unfortunately believe being good gets them into Heaven. It also applies to our sanctification. The entire Christian life is lived by grace, not just the moment we accept Christ.
Oh, this goes much deeper than the clothes you wear. And believe me, if your heart is being changed, then you will become more aware about what shouldn’t show. However, the goal isn’t to appear to be Christ like. It is to be Christ like. That doesn’t happen in a day and it doesn’t happen at the altar of salvation. It is a lifelong journey of growth in His Word and in prayer.
God set us free from the law. Jesus fulfilled it. It isn’t our job to try to live up to the letter of the law, because, well, that’s impossible. And if we could, we’d be the Savior of the world and Jesus’ job was vain. God wants to pull the lost from the miry clay and He wants to change and transform us as we draw closer to Him. That will produce outward change. That will cause a man to stop drinking and a woman to stop running around. Absolutely.
But God has to be the One to make that change.
When we have the victory over sin, we ought to praise the Lord. And when we fall, we ought to hold fast to that promise in 1 John 1:9 that says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Make it right and then praise the Lord for being free from the bondage of sin.
Thank God that even though you still have that old flesh, you can ask for forgiveness, stand in liberty and keep moving forward in the life God intended for you.
God is not impressed with the checklist. He isn’t impressed with you patting yourself on the back for how much Christian service you take part in or how much Bible you have memorized. He desires humility. He desires for us to be low, to see ourselves as weak without Him, and giving Him glory as He gives us victory over sin and life’s struggles. He wants us to come to Him and search His Word for answers and for help as we live this life.
Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of living by a checklist. Instead, stand fast in the liberty wherewith God hath made YOU free. If you fall, get back up. Walk in grace and praise God for it, my friends.