– By Susan Chrisman
When I was a young child, my parents and I attended church with my grandparents. I have vague memories of the stylish hats my grandmother always wore to Sunday services—close fitting, sometimes with a net veil attached. My parents sang in the choir, so I sat with Grandma and Grandpa during the service. They would help me hold the hymnal and the Bible, turned to the correct page or passage, although I could not yet read. My other grandmother worked in the church nursery, and when services were over, I would run to see her and be gathered up in her arms. These very early memories are treasures, reminding me that, although my grandparents have moved to their heavenly home, they have left behind them a heritage of love for our family, love for our church, love for our country, and most importantly, love for Jesus Christ and devotion to God.
There were times during our homeschooling years that I clung to that heritage, doggedly determined that I, too, would pass the baton faithfully to my own children. All homeschoolers know that, when home educating, there are good days, and there are really difficult days. And for some of us, there are good years, and there are really difficult years. It was during one of those difficult years that I remember seeing Hebrews 12:1-2 in a new light. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NASB).
As I meditated on the passage, I pictured my grandparents in that great cloud of witnesses and envisioned them cheering me on. They were very loving and supportive of me as I was growing up, and I knew that, as witnesses who had gone before me, they were offering the encouragement and support I needed by the example they had lived. “Look to Jesus, Susan. He endured so much more on your behalf. Keep your eyes on Him. He is faithful and will finish the work He has begun in you and in your children.” Somehow those thoughts, that mental picture of them cheering for me, was enough to lift me out of discouragement, even despair. It would guide my feet to firmer footing, where I could run again…where I could lift my eyes and thoughts to the eternal and true, changing my thoughts, and therefore, my perspective. I was being cheered on, and suddenly I wanted to run.
Homeschool parents, look to Jesus. By fixing your eyes on Him you can stay the course in the education and discipleship of your children. He has promised that your children are His workmanship, and He will complete the work He is performing in and through them. He is faithful. Everything does not depend solely upon you. You are not alone in this race, and there is a cloud of witnesses who have gone before you. Those of us who are finished or almost finished homeschooling stand with you who are still running this race. We are here to encourage you, to equip you, and to pray for you. And Jesus, the great Intercessor, ever lives to make intercession for you. Run the race! Run with confidence that God will provide answers to your questions and will dispel your fears. He will guide you and give you strength.
In all that concerns you—learning styles, lesson plans, a messy kitchen, toddlers’ and babies’ interruption of lesson times, fatigue, perplexing learning differences, upper level math and science, college prep, political threats to freedom, unstable economy—whether “big picture” issues or small, irritating interruptions, remember that God is sovereign and faithful over it all. He will complete the work He has begun.
The words to the classic hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” have rung through my soul as this year draws to a close. Looking back over the years of our homeschooling, I can see His hand faithfully guiding, steadfast and strong. And He is still working in me and in my children.
Take a minute or two to rejoice in the truths of the words to “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Susan Chrisman is a homeschooling mom of five children. She has served with her husband on the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators’ Consociation board since 2001, and edits OCHEC publications. Susan also co-directs the Charlotte Mason discussion group of Oklahoma City. She published The Practical Planner for Home Education and founded a resource service, Lifelong Learners, to encourage parents in training and educating their children.