Graduation Day

Today, my youngest child graduates from high school. This brings an end to 24 years of homeschooling as a lifestyle, a calling. This is my prayer as this era comes to a close:

"Father, we did it. Homeschooling is officially over and I've come to thank you. Thank you for calling me to it. From those first nervous attempts to teach my kindergartener to read to the agonizing struggles with Algebra and beyond (Okay, it's really hard to thank you for that), this was your plan for us. Thank you for calling me to it, entrusting me with it, enabling me to do it, and sustaining me through it. My last baby is well on his way to being a mighty man of valor, and I stand amazed at what you've done in spite of me.
Because, as you well know, I wanted to quit. A thousand times a day. But you wouldn't let me. And now I am understanding something. It wasn't all about the kids, was it? I didn't see it at the time. Sometimes it felt cruel. Wasted effort. Pointless work. (Can't I just send them to school like everybody else?) But you were teaching me that when you direct me, I must continue to obey until you lead me away from it. Endurance is big with you, isn't it?
I didn't do very well, I'm admitting to you. My failures shriek at me from their dusty shelves. All those times I lost it, messed up, and took out my frustrations on my kids--the memories make me shudder. The knowledge of my inadequacies squelches any thought of pride. I don't know how you or my kids put up with me. Like the balky Israelites, I grumbled and lacked faith more often than not. Yet, all the time you were in control, leading, guiding, and sustaining me whenever I had the sense to look up.
What I didn't know then but now see, was that while I thought I was teaching them, you were teaching me. You taught me that my best efforts only reap Lea Ann-sized results. If I want God-sized results, I have to rely totally on you. You taught me that what you ask me to do, you provide for. You taught me that my obedience to your voice is the main thing and that I am not responsible for the results of that obedience. 
You taught me how to improvise, create lessons out of nothing, inspire the uninspired, and make do with little. You taught me that there is no subject matter or area of life that does not revolve around you. I found that I really can do everything you ask me to do when I let you do it through me. 
You taught me that wisdom is a precious gem that is only obtained through a long painful process, but it's worth every tear. I learned that you place a high premium on faithfulness and overlook a lot of imperfection when the motivation is right. And I also learned that no matter how noble the calling or how invested I may be in it, if I make it a god, it will fail me. You are the only God worthy of the title.
So today is my graduation too. I pray my kids have learned their lessons well, and I pray I have learned mine. Thank you for the education I received from you that has prepared me for the second half of my life. I now understand that I could not be trusted with your future plan if I had not been faithful with the past. I think I'm getting it now. It took me awhile. I'm not the best student, but You're a wonderful teacher. 
So thank you for homeschooling me."

Stay in the Shadow

Remember playing shadow
tag when you were a kid?

The goal was to stomp on someone's shadow and put them out of the game. The trick was catching a shadow that can move faster than anything. You had to pay close attention to the light source and where that shadow might appear next or you didn't fare very well.

As a child, I liked to walk closely beside my tall dad, trying to keep my shadow hidden inside his. I had to watch the ground and keep step or my shorter shadow would suddenly peek out from his.

That's the picture the psalmist paints in Psalm 91 when he tells us that "he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, abides in the shadow of the Almighty."

How do you abide in a shadow?

You pay close attention to the light source and where the shadow is going. If you get distracted by something else you will most certainly get out of the shadow. Your shorter one will peek out and mess everything up.

When we abide in the shadow of the Almighty, we are assured of His constant presence, protection, and pleasure. That's what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote "for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3)

God's goal for each of His children is that we cast no shadow of our own. We stay hidden in His. When we allow our shadow to peek out, we are most likely trying to glorify ourselves and we are missing His plan for us.

God's promises are for those who choose to keep their shadows hidden inside His. When He moves, we move. When He turns abruptly, we scamper to follow suit or we get left out in the sun. When He stops, we stop. And wait on the Lord.

So, are you filling your life with things that enlarge your shadow?Or are you abiding in the shadow of the Almighty?

It's Her Fault

Over the last few years, as I have worked with many couples in marriage counseling, a pattern has emerged.. Many times, when I ask the husband about his spiritual life, I can't get a straight answer. He cannot own his lack of spiritual growth without blaming his wife. Wives don't seem to do this as much. It tends to be a male trait.

As I pondered the reasons for this,  I remembered that the first husband did the same thing with the first wife. God asked Adam about his spiritual condition, and God couldn't get a straight answer either. To the question: "Adam, did you disobey me?"  Adam replied, "Well, that woman you gave me, she..."

I want to respectfully challenge Christian husbands to consider this: Do you hide behind your wife's imperfections when God challenges your spiritual state? Are you secretly blaming her for not becoming the spiritual leader of your home? Have you justified your own lack of growth by focusing on hers? If you were honest with yourself, are you falling into the same trap that Adam began?

God isn't buying it. He sent Jesus to free us all from the power of Adam's curse. No man or woman, husband or wife, has the power to prevent us from experiencing all God desires to do in us when our hearts are surrendered fully to Him.