These words sum up God's calling on my life, my primary ministry, and the reason for my current occupation. This was something He has whispered to me through the years, reminding me time and again what it is He wants me to do.Slow student that I am, it is only now--approximately half-way through my homeschool journey--that I am starting to truly see what it looks like lived out in my real life.You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Deuteronomy 6:5-7
As I look into this commission from the Lord, I see that my priorities have often been out of line with His. Often, I have thought of my home school as another part of my job and not THE job. I have tried to keep up with the duties that have been mine since my husband and I first decided that I should stay home with the children, that is to say, the typical duties of a stay-at-home mom. For years, I also tried to keep up with ministry opportunities, particularly in helping other people by watching their children when needed.
I have to stop here and say that I still do this, however, I have finally learned that I do not need to say "yes" every single time a person asks me. I need to go before God, Who is my employer, and ask Him what He would have me do. If His answer is "Yes," so is mine, but likewise if He replies, "No." For some reason, this has not been easy for me. I suppose it is pride, really, if I have to name it. The greatest conflict for me, however, is probably the thing I am doing right now. I have felt called of God to continue writing, and every time I have entertained the idea of giving it up, He has reaffirmed His command and I find I cannot. Sometimes the two callings have seemed conflicting to me, at least until I finally sat down and listened to my Lord.
You see, it is not what I do that has been the greatest problem. What God has revealed to me is that my heart attitudes have been incorrect. Often, instead of seeing every other task (including writing) as secondary to my primary job as a home-schooler, I have often looked at school as almost an interruption of my duties. I have even been known to try to write during school hours while the children were working independently, which is not wrong in itself, of course. My iniquity occurs when the kids need help and I would snap,"Just a second!" and finish my thought instead of dropping the thread to help them. Friends, could you imagine hearing that your child's teacher was irritated when she had to teach? It wasn't until I saw it that clearly that I was humbled enough to let God determine the whens as well as the whats of my schedule. There is nothing so important that I need to write--I am just hashing out my own spiritual journey and "thinking out loud," or at least digitally. However, for this season my kids do need me, and they need me available as a teacher. To balance both callings is not so hard, really. It is a matter of allowing God to prioritize my time and not trying to do it all.
The real turnaround came for me when it finally dawned on me that I was not treating my job like a job. Because I was "just" homeschooling, I allowed myself to feel inadequate. I felt that I had to say, "Yes" to others because I wasn't "really" doing anything. However, this honestly dishonored my Employer. If I had a "real" job and worked outside the home for money, I would treat my work environment very differently. What did that say about my understanding of my calling, then? I was sobered when I realized it said more about my belief in God than anything else. Worse, I realized that if I really loved Him with "all my heart and all my soul and all my might," obedience would be a no-brainer, for I would fall over myself to obey though I looked like a fool to all the world because of it. No, sadly, I was too aware of my own "rights" and my personal priority list to allow God's to take precedent. I wanted to serve Him, but I still wanted to put parameters on it. I had to truly humble my heart before Him and beg for greater love so that I could love Him more. Thankfully, His answer was a "yes."
With the writing, I fight the same feeling. I am not doing it for a "real" reason. There is no payment, no reward for me. However, I am again reminded that reward is not the point of a calling; it is obedience. I am not called to write for accolades, nor for my glory, but for His. I can only hope I do honor that. Sometimes I am merely thinking through an issue, at other times I want to share strong personal convictions or how God has humbled my stubborn, proud heart on a matter. Sometimes it is something that I have learned from His Word that I passionately want to share with others. The process and the results, I admit, can be frustrating, and I often feel like a freak--or rather that my freakishness is out there for all the world to see if they wanted to look. Still, when I want to quit, He reminds me on this count as in my home school that I am not doing it for personal gain, nor am I doing it for comfort, nor for renown or even for self help. I am doing it because He told me to. Period.
And this year so far, I am finding that that is reason enough. In simple obedience without extras, I have discovered tangible, vast, and indescribable joy. Did I say for no reward? Silly girl! There is nothing on earth greater than the undeserved Reward I have already been given!
When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.Psalms 73:21-26