LAYING THE SOLID FOUNDATION
By Rebecca Mancini
Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1
Back in June of 2004, our family took on some home remodeling projects for the second summer in a row. After all, summer is the only season I had time for managing such organized chaos! But what continues to amaze me after remodeling & redecorating back then The Training Ground building (historic fixer-upper), our master bath (major leaks), our garage/laundry/mud room (damaged walls and flooring), and patio (wasp-ridden old deck!)–phew!—are two things: 1) There are always more repairs and costs than meets the eye, and 2) The final result is more gratifying than I imagined – and certainly well worth the sacrifice!
The author Christian Overman in his book Assumptions that Affect our Lives compares the Christian parent’s education of their children (following the Hebraic/Biblical model) to prep work in a remodeling job, such as removing damaged floor boards or scraping off old paint. It is hard work, of course, but essential for a lasting change. Laying the foundation for godly living, obedience, respect, self-control, honor, and love for the Lord, is so necessary for good “results” in our family.
How frustrating it is to watch painters take short cuts! The job has to be redone later with even more effort! How wasteful it is to only cover rotten floorboards when both the old and new will have to be removed eventually. Is homeschooling a lot of work? Of course! But so is any worthwhile endeavor. Are we sometimes surprised by new “costs” and requirements along the way? Undoubtedly! But walking by faith is not shrinking from responsibility. It is believing that God will always provide a way to overcome, to manage gracefully, to endure difficulties, and to rejoice in God’s answers to prayer.
You are caring for your home, your household, your family with the conviction that what matters is below the surface. It is building character, values, and focus based on God’s Word and God’s glory. You have stepped out in faith and made a commitment to build a solid house. It might not have all the fancy paint yet, but in His wisdom, it will stand. It does not, in reality, depend on your “super-qualities”, but on HIM. It’s not about us; it’s about Him. He is the Master Builder. He provides the grace to accomplish his plan.
God’s ultimate purpose for education throughout Scripture was never merely to infuse children with information that would benefit them as individuals, nor benefit the state or the culture, but to raise up new generations of worshippers, of people who would follow Him, training the individual in the service of God (that, in turn, would, of course, benefit the student himself and all of society). He has instituted marriage and family and the Church (community of like-minded Christian families) to do this work. The secular state is not equipped to do so. Thus, historically, the Hebrews and Christians have taught their own children, established small schools in synagogues, monasteries, and churches, sought godly tutors, and built seminaries dedicated to training pastors and missionaries. Until recent times, God’s people have not looked to non-Christian institutions to train their children. There was not a dichotomy between Bible education and education in “other subjects.” God’s Word was not only known to be relevant in all areas of study but to be the very foundation of wisdom itself. There could not be true education without it being rooted in the Lord.
Humanism, embraced by our public (and some private) schools, teaches that God is not relevant in most areas of knowledge; it says that you can learn all about the world, whether mathematics or psychology or health or physics or art, without seeking God’s wisdom or glory; in fact, man is the measure of all things, according to humanists; he is the focus of history, the great achiever, conqueror, builder, and discoverer; his satisfaction and progress is the goal. That indoctrination –that God is only for church-related activities, and man is the center of everything else — taught directly or subtly over months and years is the greatest danger to young students — even worse than phonics-deficiency and eco-math. If you are considering “putting your child in public school” in order to relieve stress, find friends, meet state requirements, consider the learning model that the school presents — that God is not needful; man can will to succeed independently of Him—and the dichotomy of home vs. school values that your student will experience. Which is the path of least resistance for your student? Who will be his peers? Who is molding the “clay?”
It’s not all about computer centers, photography studios, band departments, and science labs. Those are means to an end, and not even the true end of a godly education; but God gives to us other means: home computers, helpful mentors, caring fathers sharing a hobby or skill, creative mothers teaching lessons or overseeing a project, homeschool co-ops and friends, internships, online courses, piano teachers, community concerts, lectures, and plays, wonderful books & resources not available to the typical classroom teacher, time for working on weak subjects, time for delving further into our favorite subjects, hikes on the trails, or watching a meteor shower in the night sky. And, yes, he has given us a club for our teens to meet together, to create, to be challenged to be their best. I hope you each find something in The Training Ground club that enriches your homeschool experience. I know that we Mancinis are greatly enriched by your participation and think the world of your children!
But I hope to remind you that our decision to homeschool is not based on a growing trend or on circumstances (ie. I’ll only homeschool if I have enough co-ops and opportunities to make it worthwhile), but on conviction that God’s model for education is a long-term, forward-thinking (or should I say upward-thinking), God-centered approach. We are raising His kids for His glory to be the very best (lawyer, designer, teacher, parent, pastor, programmer, nurse) they can be – to know their purpose and to fulfill it according to His plan and design, and to be a part of a people, a church through the generations, that serve Him above all.
Should everyone homeschool their children? Well, I believe every believer should consider the Biblical model and ask, “Lord, how can I best follow YOUR design?”
And speaking of design, I cannot take credit for the way it has unfolded, but after all the work on our home projects, I am truly delighted with the outcome! The leaks are repaired for winter, the new storage area keeps our summer equipment & patio cushions, and the new shelves and fresh paint in the laundry room make it fun to do my housework! Additionally, we enjoyed a wonderful decade in the remodeled canal-side building where the TG club met for activities. Yes, yes! It was all worth it!
May you rejoice, too, when your children rise up and call you blessed (Proverbs 31) and when they look to Jesus for each step in their lives ahead. May the strong family you have served and loved grow and extend over generations, connected to one another and to the Lord our God.
May you say, “It was all worthwhile, and God led us every step.”
“…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”