by Steve Murphy
As the parent of grown, successful, homeschooled children and a leader of a private school satellite program and board member of CHEA, I know a little about the challenges involved in day-to-day homeschooling; mostly exhaustion and discouragement. I recall the excitement, cautious optimism, and slight fear my wife Susan and I felt when we decided our children would not be attending government schools. We took comfort in the belief that we were obeying God’s call to raise our children to know, love and serve Him. We did not doubt that He would strengthen us and bless our resolve in this most important effort. We gained strength and comfort from fellowship with other like-minded Christians, and received training, affirmation, and encouragement from attending CHEA conventions through the years.
All of these elements helped to place and keep us on the right track in following God’s calling to evangelize and train our children, but what gave us the strength to stay the course through the inevitable times of difficulty and discouragement? The single and most important answer: the measure of our faith!
That sounds like an obvious insight and a bit of a cliché. All Christians know of the importance of faith; Hebrews 11:6 teaches us: “For without faith it is impossible to please God.” Yet faith and trust in God in something as important and yet difficult as homeschooling our children perhaps deserves a more detailed discussion.
The 19th century Christian hymn echoes 1 John 5:4, proclaiming that “Faith is the Victory that overcomes the World.” Faith is central to every aspect of Christianity. It is of such extreme importance that an explicit definition is contained in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:1): “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The lives and stories of dozens of the men and women of the Bible underscore the critical importance of a vibrant and active faith in God. It was the trust and obedience of Noah, Moses, Abraham, Gideon, Ruth, David, Peter, Paul, and many others that allowed them to achieve what they did.
Their stories highlight what I believe is an important Biblical principle: God blesses and prospers us in ways that are proportional to the size, strength, and application of our faith in Him. The teachings of Jesus often focused on this principle. One of the most powerful examples of the importance of faith is demonstrated as the Roman centurion approaches Jesus (Matthew 8: 5), wanting him to cure his servant. He is completely confident that Jesus is able to perform the miracle; his only reticence is the question of Jesus’ willingness to do so, because he is a Roman soldier, not a Jew. When Jesus agrees and states he will go with the centurion he makes the most extraordinary statement, “Lord I am not worthy for you to come into my home, but only say the word and my servant will be healed.” The soldier’s faith amazes Jesus, so much so that he turns to the crowd and states “truly I have not seen such faith in Israel,” and then to the Centurion the phrase that we must always hold close to our hearts as Christians and homeschoolers: “Be it done to you as you have believed.” To paraphrase: in the way and to the extent that you trust in my power, ability, and willingness to bless you it will occur.
What should we conclude from this Bible pattern of proportionality regarding our faith and God’s response?
- The understanding that God, by nature, is pleased by and responds in kind to our belief and reliance in Him. (Jesus’ statement to Thomas after his resurrection: “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.”)
- This should not translate to a “hold on at any cost, we’re homeschooling no matter what” strategy.
- Rather, it should mean that we fully know the reasons we choose to homeschool, and will dedicate and train ourselves to nurture the needed skills, planning, and commitment.
- We are willing to sacrifice in the many areas required to succeed in this effort.
- Above all, we exhibit an active, vibrant faith that God will bless our resolve, giving us the strength to go through the difficult times without giving up. Our children will see our faith in action; that perhaps is the most important lesson we can teach them.
I always enjoy the opportunities I have to speak with people at CHEA’s conventions, especially those parents just starting out. I tell them the convention is a great place to gain practical homeschooling skills, learn the logistics, find teaching aids, etc. But much more so, it is the place to catch or renew the vision of why we homeschool; to train our children to know and love God. I tell them to have faith; God will bless your efforts!