Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lest We Forget

Maybe it's the romantic in me, but for some reason when I think about children of believers in the Old Testatment, I imagine them growing up hearing stories of their grandfathers and great grandfathers, and where they came from and the faith they had. I envision the children being so familiar with these stories of family history that when they grow up they in turn hand them down to their children with a new chapter added with each passing generation. Stories of great faith, and stories of trials. Stories of captivity and liberation, great persecution and victorious providence. Like I said, maybe it's just the romantic in me thinking that it was like that for children of believers in the OT. When I look at my own kids and remind myself that children act like children no matter what era they grew up in, I have to put the romantic away and pull out the realist. Although I may not be too far off the mark, since it's only within the last 100 years or so in human history that kids (and adults) have had electronic storytellers (aka televisions, radios, stereos, cd players, ipods, computers, etc. - or as we like to call such things, "brain suckers"), and prior to that, families did spend a lot more time actually talking to one another and listening to one another. I would venture to guess a 10 year old child in 1907 probably knew a lot more about his own family history, than a 10 year old child in 2007 does. There were simply less distractions in a family in those days.

This came to mind today as I was considering the importance of the Bible lesson we had in school. One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that their entire curriculum (except for math) is Christ-centered. Obviously we have a Bible lesson, then there is math, phonics, spelling, history, science and finally handwriting. Aside from the math books, their textbooks are written with a Biblical worldview and use Christian concepts and themes to teach the actual lessons. For example, in any given week in spelling, there will be words such as 'savior' or 'pastor', along with examples of how those words are used in a sentence. Their phonics workbooks are the same way - they teach the kids the proper phonics rules using everyday language as well as Biblical language. Handwriting lessons are the same way, and our science course is from a Biblical creation worldview. History this year is a great book of fictional stories based on real life events of many of the first families to travel across the oceans and settle in North America. Many of those settler families were devout Christians, and the stories recount the way their faith sustained them in very difficult pioneer times.

What I love about this, is that they are getting (to the very best of our ability to teach it) a solid education in all the foundational concepts, and at the same time they are being taught daily how Christianity and the foundations of Christianity are so important. It's a great balance of practical and spiritual education. Christian living is something we do each and every day, not just for 1 hour every morning during Sunday School at church (with take home sheets that are usually left in the car and long forgotten before they ever even get home). When I teach these lessons I have often wished that I would have had these kinds of books when I was a little girl, so I would have had this foundation from my own childhood.

The last few weeks in Bible, they've been learning about the ten plagues God sent to Egypt, how Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, and how the Israelites began to grumble after all that they had witnessed God do for them.

What struck me today about the lesson in Bible was first how timely it is. There are days we skip "book learning" and do some verbal lessons while we do work around the house. There have been days we've cancelled school all together when we've had out of town family visiting, or someone has been sick. Had we been following the lessons to the letter and staying on schedule, we would be about two lessons ahead right now at this time of year. However, due to God's absolute sovereign plan, the lesson we're working on this week (right before we break for Christmas at the end of next week) is a lesson in why we ought to be grateful (and this is the second thing that really struck me today) for all that God has given us, and never grumble or complain about what we don't have, or lament over those things we want - and don't get. What a great time to be studying this when every commercial break on tv is peddling every toy you can imagine, and even a few that you're not even sure what in the world they actually do.

Yesterday we had a really good discussion about manna. We talked about how much of it was needed each day to feed all the people. We discussed how it was gathered, what it tasted like (and then I had a dream last night about making cookies that tasted like manna, so I'll have to see if I can actually do that), how long the manna fell, and eventually how dissatisfied the Israelites became with God's provision. While we were discussing this Rachel (8) commented on how she would be "so sick of it!" eating it day after day, for so long. I told her that yes, most of us would be, and it would quite likely be hard to maintain an attitude of gratefulness in that situation. That right there, was the key. Keeping our hearts and minds focused on God's grace and mercy, and not letting our flesh get in the way.

I've been in countless discussions with fellow believers when the "grumbling Israelites" have come up and folks will say things like "how could they be so ungrateful after all they'd witnessed!?" Truth be told (and this is what I reminded the kids yesterday) we are no different than they were. While we haven't witnessed the kind of larger than life events that they did, we certainly do have daily evidence in our lives that the Lord is faithful to His people and provides for us each and every day. And yet, we still grumble too. Or we fret and worry about tomorrow, and forget that He holds our very tomorrows. Maybe we're in the same situation year after year after year, and we get so sick of it like the Israelites were sick of manna. We want more, we want better, we want something different - just like they did. Rather than humbling ourselves before Him with a thankful heart, we yearn for what we don't have and neglect to be grateful to Him for what He's given us. Oh yes, we are exactly like the Israelites in the wilderness.

This morning before school I was chatting online with a friend who commented that "the Lord has not forgotten us!" (The family was pleasantly surprised with a most timely gift that came in the mail). No indeed, the Lord never forgets us, it's we who forget where our blessings really are sometimes, and where they're coming from.

One more thing I love about homeschooling, is that I'm learning (and being reminded of) valuable lessons right along with the kids, each and every day. As I teach the Bible lessons in particular, sometimes my heart is so convicted that the discussions go a little longer than they're designed to. But that's a very good thing. Maybe when they grow up they'll remember these conversations and have them with their own kids, adding their own chapters with each passing generation. I sincerely hope that is indeed the case.