First Things First

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 is probably one of the most quoted scripture references when speaking of home education: “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.”

I thought of this verse many, many times as we home educated our four now-adult sons. I often pondered what teaching my sons as I sit, walk, lie down, and rise would look like. Did it mean having regular family worship times? Did it mean memorizing Scripture and plastering our walls with Scripture?

In looking back I see that these are worthwhile activities and that this kind of thinking is correct. However, I always seemed to miss the order the Holy Spirit has orchestrated His Word. There is a reason verse five precedes verses six and seven. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Before I can expect to teach my children the words of God, I must be in a heart relationship with God myself. As a result of this revelation, for the past year and a half I have been asking God to help me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I did not know how He would answer this prayer, but because it is clearly according to His will, I knew He would. I confess that I expected that I would experience some sort of quickening and would find my affections being drawn heavenward.

The opposite happened. Instead of my feelings towards God changing, I have been increasingly aware of His affection for me. Through a series of experiences and scriptures, over the past several months God has been conveying to my heart how much He cares for me. Through these providences He has been communicating to me how much he loves and even likes me. As I pondered this fact, I realized it is consistent with how our heavenly Father operates. We read in 1 John 4:19 that “we love because He first loved us.” As I have been shown how much God loves me, I am finding that I love God more than ever. My newfound appreciation for my Savior is in direct proportion to the revelation of His love for me. Once again God has taken the initiative and made me know that I am His and He is mine.

The most powerful scripture that the Holy Spirit has quickened to me in recent months has been John 15:9: “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved You. Abide in My love.” To think that Jesus loves me as much as His Father loves Him . . . this truth is difficult to absorb, but it is the Word of God. I see with new eyes that the best thing I can do for my family is to fall in love with God and His Word continually. A heart relationship with my heavenly Father is what prepares and equips me to teach my children. In fact, as I love God and His Word, discipleship will flow from my heart to the hearts of my family members.

Recently a friend sent me an email describing what God has been teaching him and his wife about home-based discipleship. With his permission I am sharing some of it with you:

“We are in a time of real soul-searching and transition of heart and mind from external-based, legalistic forms of ‘family discipleship’ to which we’d been exposed and had thought, ‘Well, that’s how the so-called experts seem to be doing it.’ Our new goal is heart based, humility powered ‘just loving each other.’ ‘Just loving each other’ doesn’t sound nearly as noble and high-minded as ‘family discipleship,’ but honestly, it’s what we need to do. We are desperate to see something of Jesus in our home these days.”

Home education is not a formula but a relationship. This relationship begins with our hearts as parents turning toward God and then toward home. May God save us from the external forms and appearances of home schooling and do a deep work in our hearts that will birth relationships with God and each other that will last for eternity.