As my wife and I were laying in bed the other night, we were talking about big things going on in our lives. Homeschooling is one of the more important items because it (1) involves our children and (2) is real burden of time and energy for my wife. We’ve chosen to go through this set of trials, which may will probably last us another 16 years to get through. But what got us on this subject of self-evaluation really enabled us to see the true gravity of the choice we have made.
I don’t believe we think often nor deeply enough about death. While it may be sobering subject, it is also healthy and enlightening. We are not certain about the health of my maternal grandmother. She hasn’t been doing well lately, and she is currently undergoing physical therapy after a recent visit to the emergency room. She doesn’t seem to be doing well and we just don’t know how much time she has left. Its been hard on my mother and my aunt. Over the weekend, we talked about grandma and her possible death to the wee hours of the morning.
So here’s the kicker, we also make too much out of death too, cause you see, life ain’t about death either! When I visited my grandmother in the rehab center, I encouraged her from 1 Corinthians 15 that her death is a must. She cannot become what she was created to be unless she dies. She will die, like a seed put in the earth, but she will also rise, because of Jesus, as imperishable fruit, with a glorified body like Jesus. Thus, in her death, she actually shares in Jesus. Why? Because the God of the universe, took on human flesh, and died. Death, then, has infinite value! But not because death is anything, only because of the value the triune God has placed in human life. Yet, we often fail to see the value and purpose of death, and hence the value and purpose of life, because our way of seeing things is hindered with distractions.
We are distracted by our way of living. It seems that whatever we are caught up in doing becomes, if only for a moment, the ultimate point of life. The one dying is counseled that it will get better if they fight harder; dying itself then becomes a distraction from looking to Jesus. My wife and I started talking about how life and death are precious because Jesus shared in our human life, he also shared in our human dying, and he chose to share in human resurrection. We weren’t trying to be mystical, but it becomes clear how all of human life, our habits, structures, comforts, of course all the ways we hurt others, and a plentitude of human experience all are but a shadow of true human life. I really like how C. S. Lewis, in The Great Divorce, artistically portrays heaven as being the very essence of reality. All other experience is less real, so much so that experiencing heavenly reality causes physical pain. He points us to the biblical truth that…
Jesus and the resurrection are the most real human reality. We taste and share in that reality now only by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But we don’t yet have it in its absolute fullness. Whatever we do or think or feel that detracts from that fullness distracts us from what is truly ultimate, what is truly real.
Life, then, is not about…
…in this post, homeschooling. You could replace that with a million other things, but let’s tease out how easily we come to think, believe, and act otherwise.
For my wife, life easily becomes about homeschooling. She spends most of her morning schooling our children, she spends significant free time reading and developing her teaching skills and curriculum, and she feels the most pressure to see our children succeed. She is tempted to fear failure; she may also fall into the trap of comparing her methods, her children with other seemingly successful mothers and children. Covetousness, anger, jealousy, pride, depression, fear, anxiety all await to destroy her.
As a father, I’m tempted to push our children to academic excellence to the exclusion of all else. I want my children to succeed; I want them to by trophies of mine, reflections of my own image. I also am tempted to demand of my wife excellence, to not sympathize with her struggles or feelings, and to sit back on my throne lording over our homeschool. Pride, arrogance, selfishness, and laziness lie in wait to ambush me.
My children can easily pick up from us that they are more important than anybody else. Also, they can be taught that what they know or think makes them better, more important, or smarter than all others. They can be taught to reduce Christianity to a set of facts, or information to memorize. They can become disconnected from true life. Not only will they have their own struggle with the sinful nature, they will inherit sinful habits from our idolatry of their education.
When its all said and done, the most important thing for our children is not their education. Education is only sub-ordinately important given our current cultural context. Theologically, while it’s valuable as a way to develop a vocation as an avenue of service and worship, it’s still not ultimate. As image bearers, yet who share in human fallenness, what is ultimate is their sin-bearer, sharing in His human frailty and also His divine exaltedness.
As scripture does repeatedly, I want them to interpret their life, in all that means, through who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He will do.