I love school supplies.
A freshly-sharpened #2 pencil. A crisp, blank, college-ruled notebook. My label maker on a well-organized desk. These are a few of my favorite things.
Needless to say, “Back to School” season is the highlight of my year. As the weather cools and the foggy haze of summer days clarifies into the structured plans of a new school year, I feel energized and excited and motivated to do ALL. THE. THINGS.
Come February and March, however, that excitement is nowhere to be found. When the shiny gloss of our fresh school year plans has worn off, and we’re left with fatigue, winter slush, and grumpy attitudes, even the fanciest pens and classiest Moleskine notebooks can’t get me motivated to stick to our homeschool plans.
I have to be wary in the back to school season not to bite off more than we can chew when it comes to plans for the school year. I have to be kind to my future February Self, considering what she’ll be able to handle is not the same as what my September Self can do. My February Self is a slacker who wants the easy way out – to skip a few pages in those boring workbooks, to not bother editing that paper, to skim those readings instead of perusing them closely.
But even with all her weaknesses, my February Self brings some real value to the table. When she can’t be motivated by pencils and notebooks, when deadlines have been missed and voices have been raised, when her and her family’s sin is staring her straight in the face, — when she is at the end of herself — that’s where God is teaching her what our true homeschool priorities are.
Ultimately, the daily work of education is not about grades or university applications or job prospects, but about molding souls to love the Truth, to appreciate Beauty, and to see their Maker at work in the world.
The daily exercise of sticking to the reading assignments on the Omnibus course assignment sheet, of preparing yet another Algebra homework upload, of reciting the preposition jingle for the 475th time and still forgetting what comes after “down…..during!” – as disheartening as my February self finds these tasks – I realize these activities are not futile when I view them as part of the process of ministering to my children to love Truth and to see its author’s glory evident in creation.
“Wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his master.” - Augustine of Hippo
Searching to know more about math, about history, about science, about grammar, about logic, about any subject of study, is ultimately a means to knowing more about God Himself.
Mathematical truth, the patterns of history, the beauty of a complex truth table – all of these elements of our academic work point us to the nature of our God. As the author and source of Truth, we recognize the handiwork of God in all of our academic pursuits.
“If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it, wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonor the spirit of God.” - John Calvin
The daily reward of learning more about God through every aspect of our schooling and education is a gift that becomes clearer with each passing school year in my family. As my children grow and mature, the connections that I see them making across subjects, and the way in which I can see them knowing their Creator and Savior in more detail as they learn more about his creation, is far more motivating than any multi-colored pens or fancy planners and stickers could ever be. This is a motivation that lasts and does not fade. This is not time spent, but time invested in the eternal future of my children – not just in a future job or career prospect, as important as those earthly considerations can be.
“As God works all things after the counsel of his own will, we learn from his works what his counsel was, as we judge of an architect’s plan by inspecting the building which was erected under his directions.” - A.W. Pink
The incredible bonus of these academic pursuits is that we have a God who allows us not just to know more about Him as we learn about His creation, but that our God enables us to actually grow in relationship with Him as we learn about His deeds and His character. When my children study Homer or Shakespeare, Einstein or Marie Curie, they do not grow in a personal relationship with these figures from history. But as we study our creator’s handiwork together, across any academic subject, we can actually grow in relationship with our life-giving God, being made daily more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus. We come to rely on Him more and more with each passing day, as our own fleeting school-year resolutions and motivations fade, our pencils get dull, and our sin rears its ugly head. By His grace, we can turn to that eternal source of Truth, and dive deeper into our work in an effort not to fuel our own pride, our own ego, our own desires, but to renew our minds in the knowledge of the One who is the source of all Good.
This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. - Jeremiah 9:23-24
May God bless the work of our hands as we approach another school year, another set of assignments, another stack of books, another pile of school supplies. May God continually work in the hearts and minds of us and of our children, enabling us as parents and instructors to teach them to fear Him, to love Him, and to desire to know Him more and glorify Him in each new day that He grants to us in this life, even when our pencils are dull.
- Amanda Jager