''For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul." (Hebrews 10:36-39, NASB)
When each of us steps out on our visionary journey of homeschooling, we are following a dream. We know the journey will be taxing, but we eagerly anticipate reaching a place where the road is smooth - where our children are learning with open minds, their hearts are being instructed in righteousness, and our home life is orderly and peaceful. However, we rarely factor into that dream the uncounted and unexpected little interruptions that plague each day, much less the major illnesses, crises and catastrophes, and emotional confrontations that sometimes seem to turn the dream into a nightmare.
With my first child about to graduate, I can say now that the dream of a smooth road is just that, a dream. It is an unrealistic expectation of the homeschooling lifestyle. For that matter, it is an unrealistic expectation of the Christian life.
After fifteen major moves (four of them international) in 18 years of marriage, numerous hospitalizations and harsh illnesses, several car accidents, a fire, two major plumbing floods, three miscarriages, and too-many-to-count other major interruptions and distractions, I have learned to adjust my expectations about the homeschooling lifestyle. And yet, after all these years I am still convinced that educating my children at home is God's design for our family. Seeing our close family relationships and the heartfelt love and devotion for God in our children is encouragement to endure as I look ahead to another 15 years of homeschooling (I'll be 60 when Joy graduates!).
Endurance does not come easy, though, any more than it did for the Hebrew Christians who were tempted to "shrink back" when life got hard. Five biblical principles of endurance have given me confidence to "have faith to the preserving of the soul" along the rocky and sometimes difficult road of my own homeschooling journey. If you have "need of endurance," perhaps they will encourage you, too.
Psalm 139:16 is a spirit-calming truth - God knew what all of our days would be like even before we were born. If I believe that God led me to homeschool, then I have to understand that He already knows about each difficulty I will encounter. The more I have learned to rest in the knowledge that God is in providential control of my life - even when it seems to be spinning out of control - the more I am able to weather the crises, whether big or little.
Life-disrupting interruptions are a part of my children's "providential" curriculum, and just as important and useful as time spent in math and language arts. My children are all better at cleaning the house, serving a sick child, adjusting to change, learning to work independently, and being less selfish because of God's curriculum. He knows better than I what they need to learn to mold their personalities and strengthen their character.
A common theme throughout the Bible is our need to wait upon God - to be patient in waiting for His response to our needs. It is distressing to me that so many homeschooling mothers simply give up when confronted with the difficulties and stresses of this lifestyle. They grow impatient with God and quit, rather than wait.
The greatest blessings in my life have come when I have waited patiently on the Lord; the greatest struggles when I have shrunk back from what I know is His will. Godliness, maturity, and depth in education do not come overnight in a child, and we all know that some years are more productive than others. It encourages me to know that God works through my faithfulness, not my "success."
I am sowing many seeds into the hearts and minds of my children and, like the patient farmer in James 5:7, I must be willing to wait for the seeds to mature. Only in time will I be able to see how God was using each day and every circumstance to prepare my children for life with Him.
There have been seasons in my life when I have said to the Lord, "I have nothing left to give...I'm empty." And yet, at that point of need, God has never failed to fill me up when I come to Him. God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness," and He provides for my spiritual needs when I acknowledge how much I need Him.
He has also provided for my material needs as a homeschooling mother, which has ministered to my spiritual needs, as well. We started out with very little, but over the years God has provided a wonderful library and many resources for learning and creativity that have filled our home. That provision of God has enabled me to relax some, knowing that even at those times when I couldn't formally homeschool, my children would still be learning just by living in my home.
Every year I have homeschooled, everything seems to change - my children's needs, our schedule and commitments, our circumstances, and even our convictions. Every year I have had to adjust to a new set of expectations. Though I have never, in one year, accomplished all of my educational goals with my children, I have never not tried. I have persevered.
As I have determined each year, in faith, to keep going in homeschooling, I have seen God's grace make up for my lack and my inconsistency. It's not because I have had a perfect homeschool that my children are growing and maturing mentally and spiritually, but because I have persevered. When I felt weak and like giving up, I pressed on in God's strength instead.
I have often thought that if I could just have a full-time housekeeper, an on-demand driver and grocery shopper, and a live-in doting grandmother to love my kids and support me through the stresses of life, that I could be a much better homeschooling mother. Now that really is a dream!
The reality, though, is that God has called me to homeschool because it is His best for me and my family, even if it's hard. It is his will, and I do it "so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised." I walk each day of my homeschooling journey in faith, no matter what the road ahead may hold, because I want to stand before my Lord and know that He is pleased with me. That is worth whatever I have to endure.