It's the statement by our children that means the most to us. We'll be sitting around the living room talking, reading books, working on creative projects, doing lessons, listening to music, or just relaxing. Whether the sounds of all that living and learning are a symphony or a cacophony, one small voice will sound a beautiful note above the rest that our parental ears are tuned to hear: "I just love our family!" or "Isn't God great?" or "This is what I want my family to be like."
What they are expressing in those unpretentious moments is what we have prayed for all our married lives. A close, wholehearted family. A house filled with God's presence. A peaceful home.
We used to think home schooling would create that, but it doesn't. Earlier in our parental experience, we'd get anxious every new school year, wondering if we were doing it right or doing enough. And if mom and dad weren't feeling peaceful in their hearts, then you can be sure there was no peacefulness in their home. God helped us see a very simple truth, though, and it made all the difference in our home life: anxiety comes naturally; peace comes supernaturally.
Of course, I'm talking about the kind of supernatural peace that God says comes only from Him. The peace that settles over a home like a down comforter in a silk duvet - never too heavy, always warm and cuddly, secure, inviting. Keeping that peace at home is our highest goal and a daily challenge.
As a home schooling parent, you certainly have every right to feel anxious. The "to do" list of most stay-at-home-schooling moms would put most corporate overachiever types to shame - wife, mommy, childcare specialist, multi-grade teacher, housekeeper, nutritionist, playground supervisor, field trip coordinator, shopping consultant, chauffeur, and more. Anxiety comes naturally to this lifestyle.
But when the children sense mom is anxious, it makes them anxious. And anxious children are unhappy children. And anxious parents and unhappy children don't make a peaceful home. Unfortunately, in our contact with many hundreds of families through our ministry, we see many homes where anxiety crowds out the peace that God wants us to have in our homes. The only answer is a simple one - peace comes supernaturally.
We wake up each morning to a verse on our wall: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7) And, may I add, your homes.
Paul actually issues a command: "Stop being anxious!" That's the starting point for peace - confessing all the anxiety we come by naturally, and stopping it. But we often take a wrong turn. I hear so many Christian families asking God to "pour out His peace" on them as though He has a heavenly bucket of peace and He's just waiting for us to ask so he can spill some down on our homes. That kind of peace will not keep peace in your home.
God says that peace is a "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22). If you are not experiencing peace in your home, it is not because God is withholding it from you by refusing to tip His bucket your way. It is because you are holding back the peace that is already in your heart by the Holy Spirit. That peace is like a bottomless reservoir, waiting to be released to flow into your life by the filling of the Spirit. It's not from above, but from within. But anxiety is a dam. It holds back all of God's peace.
Anxiety comes naturally. It comes when we look at the world, when we look at ourselves, when we look at our lives, when we look at anything and forget to remember that God is a part of it. Anxiety, quite simply, is the refusal to trust God. Peace, on the other hand, is the deliberate adjustment of my life to the will and work of God. Peace comes supernaturally. It comes when we willfully turn our hearts to the gracious and giving God of the universe, confessing our lack of trust, and acknowledging His sovereign care. That's when the peace of His Spirit flows into our hearts. It is the supernatural peace from Christ that is "not as the world gives." It is the peace that, as Paul says, stands like a Roman guard at the entrance to our hearts.
If you want to keep peace at home this year, it starts in your heart. How about memorizing Isaiah 26:3-4 this year and living it every day: "The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock."
When you trust in God, He will keep the peace in your heart. And when you are peaceful in your heart, your children will be peaceful and happy. And that will keep peace at home. May you hear, this year, the beautiful notes of peace sounding above the symphony and cacophony of living and learning in your home.