The Lord calls home schoolers to serve Him without fear.
Dads, you may remember Zacharias from the Bible. He was the father of John the Baptist and is best remembered for forgetting that all-important principle: Do not argue with an angel (an important safety tip for us dads). After his voice returned, Zacharias rejoiced and sang a song to the Lord, praising His salvation. One of the lines from his song lingers with me as I raise my kids: “The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” (Luke 1:73-75)
“Serve Him without fear?” What is with that wild statement? Fear and worry are just natural parts of being a parent, right? One of my favorite singers, Todd Agnew, asks what life would look like if Jesus meant everything He said. How would we followers of Christ change and behave if we really believed His words … crazy words like, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)?
The Lord has graciously allowed my family to shine our light in live theatre. The theatre community is a fun, energetic, and fulfilling place. But it can also be a dark place, filled with all manner of ungodly spirits and behavior. I confess I do worry that the theatre will influence my kids. As the Apostle Paul warns us dads in I Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” So what did the Harrells do? We tossed our five kids into a theatre production and jumped right in after them!
Our entire family was cast in a recent musical production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Well, our son Ever (4) was not actually cast, but he didn]t let that little detail bother him as he learned all the songs and dances and considered himself the understudy for the villain, Gaston. “Beauty” is a great story, with biblical themes of sin, forgiveness, and redemption, so we were excited to be a part of the show.
With almost ninety people involved in the cast and crew, the production was huge. Amazingly, the cast included twenty-five home school actors and actresses. The artistic invasion included another twenty home schoolers and their parents in directorial, stage crew, pianist, and choreography roles. Thankfully, the script called for a couple of “old guys,” so the production even had room for me, since my great age surmounts my not-so-great stage skills.
I pray over my kids and trust the Lord for their safety, righteousness, and godly choice of friends. Why do I worry about them? I verbally encourage my children to be lights in a dark world. Why do I feel I should hold them back from that same dark world? I think it’s because what I perceive as risk really isn’t risk.
Years ago several churches banded together to deliver a Jesus video to all 75,000 households in our city. Even Blockbuster would be amazed at our distribution process, as hundreds of families entered neighborhoods and knocked on doors, offering a video and praying for the household. Somehow, July was chosen as the best month for this project–probably because in Texas, July heat enhances your Gospel presentation and makes it pretty easy to bring up the topic of Hell.
It was about 135 degrees outside as my kids and I marched door-to-door. My stomach tightened in fear, though I didn’t show it to my children. (Hey, I’m a guy!) I suppose I thought our evangelism would be greeted by shotguns or harsh language. Naturally, the worst thing that happened was somebody turned their lawn sprinklers on us as we knocked, hardly a persecution for our faith. Considering the Texas sun, the household’s curse became a blessing. The greater blessing was the households that were genuinely pleased to receive our prayers and words of hope.
What do we dads do about serving Him without fear and letting our lights (our children) shine and glorify God? How about showing a little risky behavior, serving Him without fear and letting your kids invade this dark world for Christ? We risked this in the theatre, and this is what happened: I saw home schoolers befriend, serve, and laugh with a bunch of theatre people, defying those myths of “socialization” and “elitism.” I saw lights shining and good works glorifying God as excellent acting and singing filled the theatre. I heard about two teen girls leading a backstage Bible study during a performance, teaching younger girls about the end times and Christ’s return for us. I joined a stage crew dad, who led pre-performance prayer sessions with theatre kids who do not yet have a relationship with Christ. As actors passed me backstage during performances, I prayed for their success and holiness and was amazed as they accepted and trusted me as a friend. I watched home schoolers initiate small prayer groups as they prepared to take the stage. Late each night our family gathered, debriefed on the evening’s events, and then prayed for people who annoyed us greatly.
What were the results of this home schooler risky behavior? A young actor publicly announced he had begun praying again after four years of silence with God. A financially struggling theatre was blessed with six completely or nearly sold-out shows, something that was desperately needed. Hope flourished as a marvelous production emerged and ticket sales soared. Lonely people brightened upon receiving acts of compassion, service, and generosity. The lights appeared in a dark place. We also built a family memory that we will share someday with our grandkids.
Dads, this entire home school journey is an experience of serving Him without fear. We should be bold in setting such an example for our children. I do encourage you to be wise and to take age-appropriate risks. In the theatre, Ever was always with a sibling or my wife. I kept an eye on my sons Story (10) and True (8), regularly speaking to and encouraging them. My daughters Halley (16) and Scout (14) have more wisdom, so they roamed freely, though I frequently spoke with them and prayed for them.
Find that “risky” place the Lord has for you and your kids—the place where He wants you to shine your light and serve Him without fear. It could be a football field, a nursing home, a neighborhood, or maybe even a community theatre. Let the Lord amaze you with what He will do with your children.
For example, during one of the shows, our lead character, Belle, forgot her primary prop as she walked on stage. Without that mirror, the rest of the scene wouldn’t make sense. One of the home school actors calmly stayed “in character,” walked offstage, and found the missing mirror. He peacefully strode back on stage, still in character, and casually passed the mirror down the line of other home schooled actors and actresses, each of whom coolly stayed in character while passing the mirror along until it reached a greatly relieved Belle. I have so much to learn from my kids about serving Jesus without fear!
Some of you dads have a story of how you’ve served the Lord without fear. If so, I’d like to hear from you. Please contact me at ImperfectFather@Gmail.com.