Fall Harvest: Where's the Fruit?
- Friday, November 21, 2008
What I always underestimate is the fact that they are like sponges at this age. We’ve heard that and seen it in our own children, so why don’t we take advantage of that fact? We should be pouring into our children the seeds of God’s Word for memorization and for wisdom, so that as they grow, those seeds will grow and do their work in those little hearts.
My lame excuse has been busyness, but it has really proven to be laziness. I have not been intentional in the things I desire for them to learn. And, if I am not intentional, if I don’t deliberately plan to soak them in the Word, it won’t happen by accident. If I don’t make time to pour into them, no one will, and I will lose for time and eternity the golden moments, those opportunities to plant seeds in that rich soil, which is so ready to receive those seeds.
“The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4) This is an age when we can start Scripture memorization with them and show them the necessity of intimate prayer. We can read the Bible aloud to them just like we read aloud other books that we love.
Lazy weeding means that I am sometimes slack in disciplining and admonishing consistently. If I do not faithfully and diligently “weed” that rich soil, I just might be totally embarrassed by their behavior, and worse yet, my children may become unteachable. The weeds of self-will pop up everywhere at this age, and if they are not uprooted each time, they will take hold and take over and choke out anything else we try to plant.
There are times when I have been humiliated by something my child said or did, and then I have to look at the root of the problem, which usually pointed to my lack of care in that area of their lives. I had let things go. I didn’t stay on top of pulling that weed. I was busy and left them to themselves for too long. I didn’t deal with it at home on a regular basis, so I was publicly embarrassed by it. The Scripture makes this point perfectly clear: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Proverbs 29:15)
However, when we pour the Word into their little hearts and pull the weeds of self-will, we will see growth. The peaceable fruit of righteousness will begin to form little shoots in their hearts and lives. These precious little ones no longer will bring us to shame, but instead they will honor us and be a blessing to others, yielding good fruit.
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Hebrews 12:11)
Where’s the Fruit: In the Elementary Years
I’ve always greatly admired my friend Sandy. She is the mother of fourteen children, a loving and devoted wife, a homeschooler extraordinaire and, on top of all that, she has a green thumb! Before you roll your eyes and turn to the next article, let me just say this: she’s not perfect and neither are her children (and she’ll even admit it). The thing I most appreciate about Sandy is that she always shares with us her mistakes and what she has learned from the Scriptures to equip her to correct those mistakes.
Recently Sandy told us about the lessons she had learned from her cornfield. I had to smile at the story she told about her harvest of corn this year. Her corn patch only produced three small ears of corn. She quickly ate one cob and squirreled the other two away in the refrigerator, and they went bad. She told us about all the money, time, and energy wasted on that patch of corn, which yielded only one edible fruit.
She realized there were two things that caused this deficient harvest: lack of soil preparation and inconsistent watering. Her words were: “I was in a hurry to get that corn planted and did not take the time to add to the soil the nutrients that corn needs to grow. I thought of how many times I have done this with my children. You know, it’s the ‘Quick! Let’s get our Bible time done, so we can get busy with the “real” school work.’ But the reality is, that when we are teaching our children out of God’s Word, we are preparing the soil for everything else that goes in as well.”
It takes time to prepare the soil, and it takes time to prepare the hearts of our children, but we tend to run around in circles and tire ourselves out so much that we have no time to “prepare” anything of value.
During the season when our children are no longer very young but are entering the elementary years, how do we prepare their hearts and make them soft to receive seed from us and from God? I have found, by trial and error, that the following list is especially helpful in preparing these young hearts.
Preparation of Soil to Receive Seed
A haughty, frustrated spirit in me only produces more haughty, frustrated children after me. I have found the Scripture to be very true, that it has been “kindness that leads to repentance.” In other words, we need to live it in order to sow it. As Sandy says: “When we are teaching about a God who loves them, they need to experience that love through us. We teach them their need for God’s forgiveness as we forgive them. They also need to know how important it is to forgive others, so it is by us asking their forgiveness when we have been harsh, or misjudged them, or whatever the offense, that they learn how to forgive.”
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14–15)
Returning to Sandy’s pitiful cornfield, she said that besides the lack of soil preparation “was the inconsistent watering. Some days I would water in the morning and then skip it until the next evening. Sometimes I would be in a hurry and just give them a little water, and other times I would leave the hose there and flood them. This produced dwarfed plants. Some of my plants never grew bigger than 6 inches tall. A 6-inch plant does not produce corn. Many of the plants were too thin and malnourished to even support any corn on them—all because I did not take the time to consistently water those plants.”
How can we make sure our children are refreshed and strengthened and that these young plants are being watered?
Watering the Young Plants
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