“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
— Psalm 32:8
With the myriad of school choices that a global pandemic has brought to our cultural landscape, many parents find themselves educating children from home for the first time ever. Whether homeschooling, virtual schooling, or a hybrid mix with in-class schooling, the task can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. If this is where you find yourself this season, you are in good company. Many are in the same boat, and my family has been there too. Let me encourage you as I have seen God meet my family in the place of inadequacy and grow us to a place of joyful dependency.
Taking Our Instruction from the Lord
In Psalm 32:8, God promises that He will “instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” Do we trust Him to do that? Do we believe that the situation in our world right now is a part of His plan to strengthen our dependency upon Him? Or, do we see educating our children as a burdensome task in front of us that must be accomplished on top of our regular everyday duties? If we view it as the latter, I would argue that we have not grasped the full picture of what God has called us to. Education is more than checking academic boxes and setting our children up for material success in life. It is training them in the ways of righteousness and directing them to the gospel of Christ.
Too often we forget that God has a curriculum specifically hand-crafted for us, today’s parents, who are also His beloved children. We are in His school, this is His classroom, and we are His students. Our daily assignment is to trust Him. He will instruct us and teach us in the way we should go—every hour of every day. The circumstances and events of our life that seem out of our control were planned by Him. They were written in His curriculum book for each one of us. Each season has a specific purpose to grow us in our faith and dependence upon Him. Each season builds on top of the previous one so that we mature in our ability to flex, to surrender, and to embrace what He has in store for us. As students, we have a choice. Are we going to lay our heads down in frustration and give up like a child who cannot figure out a complex math problem? Or are we willing to be stretched and molded so that He can use us in training up our own children? When we take on the perspective of being a student with Christ as our teacher, we open ourselves up to empathize with the struggles of our children and direct their gaze to Christ as well.
Being Counseled Beneath His Eye
“I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” This second half of Ps 32:8 brings to mind the picture of when I was trying to teach my daughter to swim and she was struggling to make it across the width of the swimming pool. I knew that she could do it, but she was strongly doubtful and apprehensive. The one thing that made a difference in her confidence level was if I was in the pool with her, pacing right in front of her, watching her the whole time, and giving her instruction and encouragement. This is what God does for us when we step out in faith and take charge of our children’s education. We take heart that He is in the deep end of the pool with us. When we feel like we are exhausted or drowning, He is right in front of us giving us encouragement and counseling us with His eye upon us. He sees our struggle, He knows our limitations, and He calls us into the deep end, asking, “Do you trust me?”
In 2016, my family took a focused year in Kenya for my husband to gain professional training for our place of ministry service in Uganda. I reluctantly agreed to take charge of our children’s education for that year, so long as I could “get back to ministry” when we returned. Even though it was just kindergarten and preschool, I quickly realized that I was in over my head. There were so many factors of life that I could not control that I told the Lord, “I will do this for one year, but that’s it!” I was convinced that any more than that and my children would never succeed in life. Little did I know that fixing my gaze on Christ was more than enough to accomplish the task He was calling me to, and that educating our children from home was a legitimate and worthy “ministry” in and of itself. In that one year, He counseled me with His eye upon me and completely changed my focus. Four years and two additional children later, I am still at the task of educating from home in Kenya and fixing my gaze on Christ as we trust in His daily provision. Are there days where I feel ill-equipped? Sure. Are there days where I question if what we are doing is “enough”? Absolutely. But, on those days I have to remind myself that I am not called to live from the place of insecurity. I am called to live from the place of surrendered, joyful obedience.
Educating with an Eternal Perspective
As you prepare to step out in faith and take charge of your children’s education, whatever that may look like, a few questions bear asking:
- What is your goal?
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Is your goal simply for your children to meet academic grade requirements and stay on par with their peers? Or, are your eyes set to training the children before you in the way they ought to walk, before God, with an eternal perspective?
- What is your measurement for success?
Hebrews 12:1–2, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” May our measuring tool for success not simply be quantifiable test scores, but the assurance that Christ has already run the race before us and sealed our reward. Even on the days that feel like a failure, He has equipped us with everything we need to walk in obedience to Him and in dependence on His Spirit.
- Where are you placing your trust?
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). Is your trust in having a successful schoolyear based on all the research you’ve done, the expensive curriculum that promises great results, the online teachers or tutors that are trying to juggle virtual classrooms and new teaching methods? While all these things are tools that help accomplish the end result of educating our children, they cannot be the place where our trust lies. They must be viewed simply for what they are—tools. God has promised to provide all we need for each season, and therefore we must trust that He is sufficient and will fulfill His promises.
If you are one of the many parents embarking on the uncharted path of educating your children primarily from home this year, take heart. There are many fellow pilgrims on this journey with you. As we seek to undertake the task before us, may we look to Christ with joyful assurance that He has equipped us to fulfill the task He has called us to. He has not abandoned us. A global pandemic was not a surprise. He is with us, instructing us in the way we should go.