Thursday, October 09, 2014

Do Not Be Afraid

Have you ever read the story of the Israelites crossing the River Jordan?  It says in Joshua 3:14 that it was harvest season and the river was overflowing its banks.  Having recently seen rivers overflowing their banks, I know what a scary and destructive force that is.  The Bible tells us that the Levite Priests were to cross first, carrying the Ark of the Covenant.  Can you imagine the fear that they faced?  

When I am faced with something that I find daunting, I imagine those Priests.  I imagine them plugging their noses and taking a giant leap of faith into the rushing, swirling waters praying that God will catch them as they fall.  Not when they fall, but as they fall.  I then imagine myself taking a deep breath, plugging my nose and taking a giant step into whatever swirling vortex God has called me.  I am taking that step not because of the fear but in spite of it.  I refuse to live my life in a perpetual state of fear.  Not because I am not afraid but in spite of it.  In Joshua 1, God tells Joshua and His people to be strong and courageous nine different times.  Nine times, God says to be strong and courageous, as a matter of fact, verse 9 calls it a command.  God commands us to be strong and courageous. Verse 7 tells us to be strong and courageous and carefully obey His instructions and we will be successful in what we do.  If we are are strong and courageous and carefully and faithfully obey His instructions we will be successful.

I find that in parenting and in homeschooling we often make decisions based on fear.  “I am afraid that those kids will be a negative influence”, “I am afraid of Common Core”. “I am afraid my kid will never make it in a secular college”, “ I am afraid my children will be disrespectful and disobedient”, “I am afraid my child is behind”, “ I am afraid I can never teach my child to read, to write, to do math.”  I am afraid that because we are letting our fears control us, we are making decisions that are reactionary and are not based on obeying God’s instructions.  Just like the Levite Priests, we need to make decisions not because of our fears but in spite of them.

Am I saying that we shouldn't be concerned about Common Core?  Absolutely not, but I am saying that we stop having knee jerk reactions to a curriculum that may be working for us and because they are somewhat aligned we throw it out.  That is a reaction based on fear not in spite of fear.  We do our research, pray about it and make our decisions on what is the best curricula for our children, despite labels.

Am I saying that we leave our kids in situations that are not good for them or that leave them vulnerable?  Certainly not, but we need to carefully and prayerfully consider our options.  I don't think we should ever homeschool because we are afraid of the Public School.  Homeschooling is hard and if we are only doing it because we are afraid of the options, it is not going to go well.  We need to be  making decisions out of our obedience.  My husband and I homeschool because we believe this is what God has asked us to.  We do it because we love the benefits of homeschooling, not because we are afraid of the options.  We are not to live in a spirit of fear, we are to be strong and courageous.

Am I saying that we need not be concerned if our kids are disrespectful and disobedient?  Anyone who knows me even a little will know that I feel strongly about teaching our children to be respectful and obedient.  In parenting, like everything else, I think we need to think clearly without living in fear.  We need to have a plan for discipline in place before we are in conflict.  We are going to be in conflict at times with our kids, they are going to do things that we would rather they not do.  Sometimes, it is going to be hurtful and damaging but instead of living in fear, we need to pray and put discipline in place so that when those times come, we have a plan.  When my kids were little, we had posted if, then charts.  If you lie, then this punishment will come into play.  Now that they are teenagers, we have clear rules in place and no one is surprised when discipline happens.   We also have positive reinforcements in place so that we can reward the good decisions our kids make.    

God wants us to be fearless in our obedience to Him.  If He calls us to homeschool then we need to carefully obey and step fearlessly into the river.  If we are parents of strong willed kids, we pray a lot, research and read, set up a plan and step in.  I think if we approach our decisions and our life choosing to be courageous, not because we are not afraid but despite it. We will make better decisions and be more prepared to handle things when they go south.  We should not make decisions based on fear, we should make decisions despite our fears.


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