I am such a poser.
Here I am, writing a guest post for a blog about homeschooling and having kids when the closest I’ve come to homeschooling is attending the 2012 Teach Them Diligently Convention, and I won’t, technically, have a kid for another hundred days or so.
In preparation for having that kid, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about “schooling” him in the things of God. Oh, the pressure! Stacks of books, like Dare to Discipline and Family Driven Faith lay in an ever growing mound on my nightstand, and as the time to give birth gets closer, I wonder if I’ll ever have enough time to finish them all, and if I don’t, how will I be even close to qualified to parent this precious little man God has gifted to my husband and me?!
I look around for success stories. I want to see other parents who’ve gotten it right. Maybe if I embrace my inner mimic my kids will end up just like theirs did. For instance, I may be biased, but I think my sister’s kids are pretty perfect, so I’ll take a little dash of them in there, and my pastor’s girls have the sweetest spirits – maybe a little dose of them, too.
On my search for more examples like these, I found another in a surprising place. I was reading in the book of I Samuel when I got to the part just before David fights Goliath. Seeing, this time, through my gonna-be-a-mama lens, I was struck by something that had never jumped out at me before. Now, each one of us knows this story as well as we know our own names. Goliath, all ten feet tall of him, is taunting the Israelites. He’s, like, “send out someone to fight me!” and God’s chosen cowards are, like, “Who, me?!? Couldn’t be!”
All except one, that is.
David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, saw the cowardice of his kindred, but he didn’t share it. Instead, he asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” Reading that, I thought two things: “MAN! I wish I were more like that” and “how in the world do I make my son so resolved in his faith?!” Seeing that, I began to extrapolate what might’ve been the secret of Jesse’s success. It’s the same sort of guessing exercise I go through with all those moms I watch today.
We know from other places in the Old Testament that the Israelites were fickle – at best! – in their feelings towards God. They lived on a roller-coaster of spiritual highs and lows, promising allegiance to God in the morning and losing faith by that afternoon. Ultimately, they lost all touch with God. As the book of Judges puts it, “They did not remember the Lord their God, Who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side” (Judges 8:34).
I get the sense, though, that Mr. and Mrs. Jesse did remember. Judging by the moxie in David’s statement, he was well aware of the God of his fathers. He had to know all about God’s splitting the Red Sea and using Gideon to defeat the Midianites. He, I imagine, could swap no shortage of stories about how God fed Israel through Joseph and saved a nation by way of Esther. Why, then, would David have any doubt that God could slaughter a giant with a single stone?
I think that’s where the problem comes in. Christians today are not teaching their children about their God. As a result, it’s no wonder that my generation and those coming behind it are leaving the faith in the same way the uninstructed Israelites left theirs.
The essential question is, “How do we turn this tide?”
Believe it or not, while helpful hints can be found in my ever-growing library, the best instruction is found in that same “surprising” place where I was reminded of David’s audacity. We are commanded in Deuteronomy 6 to take the works that God has done and the commands that He has made and
“Teach them diligently to your children, and … talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:7-9).
In the verse above, the key word, to me, is “diligently.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort;” it’s “painstaking.” In other words, it’s not something that’s done on auto-pilot. It doesn’t happen in a prayer before dinner and two or three church services a week. It’s an all-day, every-day, intentional kind of endeavor that isn’t for the faint of heart. The result of the effort, though, are sons and daughters that are as certain as David that nothing is too hard for the God of the impossible.
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