The Old Testament prophet, Elisha, faced a series of challenges and trials with a group of men known as "the sons of the prophets." These were his students and occasionally they created some hair-raising situations for him. In turn, he effectively dealt with each one through simple faith and abundant grace. I believe Elisha's wisdom will bring hope to homeschool parents today.

Grace to make some independent decisions (II Kings 2:15-18).
When the sons of the prophets wanted to send a search party for Elijah's body, Elisha told them to forget about it; it would be a waste of time. He knew that a whirlwind had taken Elijah up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Still, the sons of the prophets begged Elisha to let them send fifty men into the wilderness for three days to seek for themselves. Elisha was so ashamed of their persistent and foolish request that he finally said, "Send!" He gave them grace to learn some things on their own--even at the risk of wasting precious time. Eventually the men came back realizing their mistake. The student's seventy-two hour, fruitless quest may have taught them more about authority, trust, truth, prudence, and priorities than they had learned in their lifetime.

In addition to his household chores, my oldest son worked at a local horse farm after school and participated in weekly youth group meetings at church. It was important for him to get an early start on his school work each day. Nevertheless, he sought permission to do his studying at night-- reasoning that he could get more done. "I'm not a morning person," he'd say. I knew what would happen. For a while I used my parental authority to dissuade him, but my wife and I eventually granted his request. It lasted two days and, just as predicted, nothing got done.

At first I was concerned over the loss of time, but after a while I saw a benefit to his escapade. He became more diligent in the mornings and understood the benefit of completing his work early in the day. The truth, insight, and experience he gained was worth the two days lost in book work. He was granted the grace to discover for himself that mother and father knew what was best.

Grace to deal with ignorance (II Kings 4:38-41).
While Elisha was teaching his students in Gilgal, he asked one of the sons of the prophets to prepare some stew for the others. Since there was a famine in the land, the young man fixed what he could find. It just so happened that the main ingredients he chose were poisonous. In ignorance, he sliced up the wild gourds and put them into a pot of boiling water.

At lunchtime the sons of the prophets began to satisfied their hearty appetites. All at once, someone realized these veggies were not part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. A voice abruptly called for Elisha and said, "There is death in the pot!" Elisha's response was not condemning, criticizing, ridiculing, or berating. With a handful of flour and faith in the living God, he saved the day. He reacted-- not in fury--but in grace.

Students will make ignorant mistakes from time to time. Most of them will not be a matter of life and death; howbeit, we parents all too often perceive them to be. They will say wrong words, choose wrong actions, and think wrong thoughts. Never fear. Even human error can become a valuable learning tool when coupled with patience and God's amazing grace.

There were days I believed my children were capable of adult-size responsibility and intelligence but later discovered that I was somewhat disillusioned. They got into trouble-- not because they were being rebellious, spiteful, or foolish-- but because they were simply ignorant; they didn't know what they were doing or they didn't see the potential danger. Times like this, a moment of grace can strengthen your children's relationship to you in a powerful and permanent way. Their learning and discernment process can actually be sharpened by your calm response. Ranting and raving over someone's ignorance may actually provoke them to wrath. Grace, on the other hand, is a powerful means of illuminating one's understanding, edifying one's heart, and maturing one's cognizance-- all at once.