“What about socialization?” “You can’t shelter them forever!”
“How will they live in the ‘real’ world?”
These are the daunting voices that, like clockwork, invariably speak up at the start of each new home school year. It is like the rat-a-tat-tat of a loaded weapon that is being fired squarely on your convictions. Each year without fail, just as the history books tell of a fearless General Jackson, there you stand like a “stone wall”!
I recently encountered a well-meaning friend who challenged our family’s convictions concerning youth groups and the age we felt it would be appropriate, if at all, for our children to attend the youth group. My oldest son is turning twelve, and my daughter is ten; both are entering their junior high years of home schooling. The expectation from our friend who challenged us on the issue was that we have spent all these formative years daily discipling our children in our home through family devotions and home education and it was now time to trust God and let the children walk out their own convictions. It was all I could do not to scream at the top of my lungs, “HE IS ONLY TWELVE YEARS OLD!” (I did not think that was the best time to point out that I was not ready for my ten-year-old daughter to be in the same social settings on a regular basis with seventeen- and eighteen-year-old young men either.) Our friend further emphasized that our children were just the kind of kids this youth group needed and that they would be “exceptional leaders.”
My heart kept being drawn to the passage in Psalm 127:4, which says “… As arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior, so are the children of your youth.” I wanted to explain to my friend that an arrow, in and of itself, is practically harmless, but what makes that arrow a mighty weapon is that it is in the hand of a mighty warrior. Adults go to war – not children! I do not think our friend would object if we chose not to send our twelve-year-old son to Iraq to fight on the front lines, but in terms of a spiritual battle, I find that there is much pressure put on families to remove the arrows from the hands of the mighty warriors and place them in settings such as youth groups. These arrows are not trained enough or mature enough to handle the battle into which they are being thrust.
My heart was also drawn to Psalm 1:3. That verse describes a tree that grows strong roots when planted by the water. Our job as parents is to spend these formative years immersing our children in the water of the Word so that their roots are deep. Deep roots will make the way for strong wings. These children will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Yes, our children are growing older. Junior high is a lot different from the first day of kindergarten. Homeschooling through high school will be far different still. In our hearts, we are convicted. This lifestyle is not just a preference that we choose. For our family, God has told us to build deep roots within the spirits of our children, and He will bless them with strong wings. Home schooling … eight years down and nine more to go … and here we stand like a “stone wall.”