The Gospel: Where We Begin, Dwell, and End
- Friday, January 25, 2013
January has always been the trickiest month for me. Each year I race through the summer months to have school ready to go in September, and then as soon as we seem to hit a groove, Thanksgiving and Christmas and a half-dozen fall birthdays are thrown into the mix. It’s exciting to see little ones experience our festivities, it’s crazy to throw ourselves into traditions and gifts and gatherings, and it’s absolutely super fun to keep at a holiday pace each year.
And then comes January. For one thing, it’s just cold, and for this California 100-degree-plus/get-into-the-pool-when-it’s-hot girl that I am, cold weather stinks. I think I was in high school the first time I realized that January’s plunging temperatures and pea soup fog simply sap the life and motivation out of me. If ever there is a period of time to convince myself that I do not want to be homeschooling and should have signed up to be a tour guide in the tropics instead, January is it.
I need to find fresh motivation every January. What is it that keeps me doing what I am doing, even (and especially) when my heart and mind and chilly bones want to be anywhere but here? Really, what is it that keeps me doing this very difficult and committed act of homeschooling?
To be perfectly honest, there were years when I didn’t throw in the towel mainly because homeschooling had become who I was. It had come to define me: Kendra Fletcher, classical homeschooling mom of many. I don’t think I would have said that to anyone, that part about it defining me, but the truth is that I found myself defending my vocation in my head to the people who thought I was either nuts or weird or doing my children a disservice or just plain wasting my life. I would argue with them about how many hours I put in, how far ahead my kids were academically, or how much better of an education I had garnered for myself because I was homeschooling my kids. When we have these sorts of defensive confrontations with people solely in our own heads, we can be certain we’re making an idol out of something God never intended us to.
God is gracious to reveal our idols to us, isn’t He? We can be absolutely sure that those things that define us outside of Christ are our misplaced attempts at identity, apart from Him.
This past year, God has whispered the Gospel over and over into my ear. No, that’s not exactly true. He’s shouted it, loud and clear! Every day, and yes, every hour, I see things in light of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross on my behalf. Because of what He did, I am identified by Him. Nothing else. In fact, anything else that creeps in to define me, anything that is giving me a sense of worth, anything that makes me feel like I have value, significance, and purpose apart from Christ is an idol. And, ultimately, it is bondage.
I’m a little slow, I admit. I have loved and wanted to serve God my whole life, but I was constantly defining myself by my works. In childhood it was school or talents or interests or friends, and then it became boyfriends and college and career. Then husband, children, and alas—homeschooling. All these idols lined up to identify me in place of Christ. Oh, yes! I was a Christian, no doubt. But on a day-to-day basis, I was clearly searching for my identity by other ways and means.
I’ve gotta tell you, it just isn’t worth it. Even the “good” stuff like church and theology and serving my neighbor—can be less than good when they stand in place of Christ to define us.
So, why all this Gospel and identity talk in a column about homeschooling preschoolers? Because simply put, there just isn’t any other place to begin. This is it. The Gospel is where we begin, dwell, and end. The Gospel isn’t just for the non-believer; it’s how we see everything else. It’s the center from which the Old and New Testaments radiate, it’s the crux, the pinnacle, the end-all, be-all. And the good news of our creation, fall, redemption, and restoration by Christ should be what we remind ourselves of each and every day.
Our little ones need to be told too. They need to begin to see all of God’s Word as one beautiful redemption story, and they need to feel the grace of the Gospel poured out over them, saturating their little lives and creeping into every crevice. They need to know that when they produce something beautiful, all glory goes to their Creator. They need to understand that when they fall, there is always the heaving hope of redemption because of what Christ already did for them at Calvary: consequences and training and repentance, for sure. But never those things divorced from the Gospel.
And what does that look like practically? How do we communicate the entire meta-narrative of Scripture to our 3- and 4-year-olds? We can talk in little parables of grace, telling them personal stories of God’s redemption in our own lives. We can show them Jesus in Bible stories we commonly tell little ones: God’s grace in creation, His redemption of Noah, the hope of the Messiah in Jonah’s big blunder. Remember David, that shepherd boy with the stones and the sling? He was a man after God’s own heart even when he repeatedly blew it, big time. That’s the Truth of the Gospel.
Watch them closely as they grow and see where it is they are striving to place their identity, and then remind them Whose they are and what He’s done for them. Assure them that although they sin and will continue to do so, grace abounds, and Jesus is the only one Who can forgive that sin. Show them by your own joyful, thankful walk that it always pays off in freedom and grace to follow the Lord closely, basking in His presence and soaking up His Word. Remind them that only Jesus can give them true value, purpose, worth, and security.
You might be beginning this homeschooling journey with only little people underfoot, or you may have more years under your belt than I do. Either way, there will never be a better way to begin your school days, weeks, or years than with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Him we live and breathe and have our being. It’s an identity worth living for!
Resources for beginning your year saturated in the grace of the Gospel:
The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
Discovering Jesus in Genesis, Susan Hunt
Discovering Jesus in Exodus, Susan Hunt
Long Story Short, Marty Machowski
Grace-Based Parenting, Tim Kimmel
Give Them Grace, Elyse Fitzpatrick
Kendra Fletcher is the homeschooling mother of eight, aged 18 down to 3. She has never known what it means to homeschool without the presence of preschoolers and loves to encourage other moms who are beginning their homeschool journeys with little ones underfoot. Her website and blog can be found at www.preschoolersandpeace.com.
Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
Publication date: January 28, 2013
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