My three youngest children have been educated at home for the past five, almost six, years. It has been one of the most wonderful, challenging, and growth-filled seasons of my life. I find myself reevaluating my methods, philosophy of education, and even reorganizing the school room at least twice per year (if not more!).
Recently, my oldest daughter passed down her desk to my middle daughter. We decided to use it in the schoolroom since it has good drawer space and I took over my middle daughter’s smaller writing desk. (I had been using a square folding card table.) Well, after a couple of weeks I was missing the large surface area of my card table so I moved my writing desk across the room to a spot near the window and beside a long, mostly unused, table that I figured would work well as a place to stack the books and papers that build up throughout the day. This new location placed me within three feet of both my youngest children, both of whom are struggling learners.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention we have significant learning disabilities in our mix. God certainly does like to stretch us, doesn’t He?
Now, I have never sat more than six feet from them but I just wasn’t NEXT to them all the time until now. We would do most things together but sometimes I would give them an assignment and they worked on it independently at their desks. That has not changed, but their awareness of my presence in the room has, and what a difference that has made.
Their work speed has greatly increased. They are more calm at their desks (or under their desks…one perk of homeschooling!) and attitudes towards the written work have improved. Nothing has changed in the way we schedule our day or in the curriculum we use. The only difference is my location. I am nearer to them and they are much more aware of my presence in the room, thus creating a much stronger work ethic.
So often I slack off on my spiritual disciplines. I procrastinate, find excuses, get distracted by bugs. (Ok, maybe not bugs…but you get the point!) I forget, even for a few minutes at a time, that God is near. I end up wasting those minutes, minutes that I will never get back.
But then He moves. Ever-so-slightly He inches closer and I feel the air shift around me. I’m reminded that I have more important things to do than scroll down a news feed. I have my Father trying to get my attention, reminding me of what is needful. I have my God reaching across the small space between us and searching my eyes, drawing me in, beginning conversation in the long silence. He longs to teach me with excellence. He has so much for me, but I have to focus in, listen, get pen in hand and purpose to learn all that He is showing me.
Perceived distance breeds distraction. The reality of His nearness results in accountability, productivity, and rest.
Yes, productivity’s reward is rest.
By doing what is needful at the right time, I am freed to rest from labor when my tasks are complete. Just like my children who, sometimes, inadvertently add minutes or hours to their school day by inattention or procrastination…who, later, wish they had focused because they are tired and just want to be DONE…when I focus and purpose to make the most of the work God gives me I can later rest my weary legs and enjoy the sunset without a sink full of dishes or piles of laundry…or a dusty Bible…making it difficult to rest freely.
To be clear, God never calls us to strive for his approval. No, that has already been secured. Our work is in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, in His strength and never our own. Our work is part of the privilege of being daughters and sons of the King, labor that is intended to be fruitful and satisfying. It is not easy. It is most likely not even safe. But it is good and necessary. It is part of being in the family of God, this doing our part and following His calling despite the hardships and obstacles because, at the end of the day, there is rest.
Rest is part of God’s care for us. It is His reward for obedience. Rest is the recharge we need, how our Spirit is fed and our mind is renewed. Meditating on Truth, watching a flock of birds flitter in the tall branches, inhaling the scent of coming rain…all of these are gifts God pours upon us to remind us that He is, indeed, near. He sees our labor and it is not in vain. His grace is sufficient when we fail and His power is made perfect in our weakness. He calls us to walk with Him, fully aware of His presence, through both success and suffering, despite our failures and fears.
May we sense His nearness more fully than ever today. May we stay on task, driven by the knowledge of Who we serve and why He has chosen us. We are His beloved, chosen and set apart for the good of the Kingdom. May we love hard and serve well, bravely facing the next task in the power of the Holy Spirit with the reassurance the He is preparing a place for us that will truly be worth it all!