Invest Your Time in Timeless Truth2
Our family is deep in the grind of homeschooling right now. With a seventh grader, sixth grader, and a fourth and second grader (not to mention the baby who pulls all the books off the shelf every single day), it shouldn't be a surprise that I find myself reviewing goals, lesson plans, and worksheets in my spare moments.
Sometimes during our day, something will come up that has changed in the scholastic arena that leaves me temporarily stunned in disbelief. Like the time my seventh grader told me that “it's not period-space-space, Mom. It's just period-space. That's what my online writing instructor told us." What?! Years of junior high typing class pounded period-space-space into my brain until it became an automatic response.
Then there was the time we were working on a science project, and as one child flipped through the astronomy section, the page on planets caught their eye. Apparently, my kids felt like Pluto had been unfairly excluded from the Planet List and they began mounting a vigorous defense to get him included back in the club. They felt like the rug had been pulled out from under them, because suddenly, My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine…Nine Whats??
Admittedly, these sorts of things don't come up every day, but they do come up often enough (especially in science and historical interpretations) that make me ask myself the question: What am I teaching my kids that will stand the test of time? I mean, really and truly, never, ever change?
We all know societal standards are changing faster than any reasonable person can keep up with. My linguist husband tells me that language, grammar, pronunciation, and word usage change every 20-40 years. Current scientific discoveries obliterate much of accepted scientific thought from even just 20 years ago.
I'm not saying that we're chunking all the science textbooks and cutting grammar class. But I do think it's wise to consider putting more of our family's time and effort into becoming in-and-out familiar with what doesn't change. I'm sure you know by now where I'm headed with this. It is God’s timeless Word that never changes.
We've started re-ordering our days and routines to reflect this elevated view of Scripture. I want our days to be saturated with it. I want reminders of truth to be in our line of vision throughout our house. I want our best efforts to be spent, not necessarily on my teenager working out the Pythagorean Theorem or my 8-year-old working on vowel clusters, but on hiding His word in our hearts and keeping it there forever.
This applies to all of us who follow Jesus, not just to homeschoolers. We are so good at pouring our best energies into strategies, initiatives, and projects that become outdated before the paint is even dry on the family room walls. What if we worked as hard at memorizing Scripture as we do collecting “Elf on the Shelf” ideas? What if we reviewed the faithful promises of God as frequently as we refresh ESPN's NBA standings? What would it look like to say “No” to the newest episode of CSI because there was a passage we read that morning that we didn't quite understand, and maybe there's a sermon online that helps explain it better? (Does anyone even care about CSI anymore?) The point here is not that we neglect algebra, or stop developing a new project at work, or never again watch television. The point here is that we are very willing to work hard for a myriad of things in our lives but treasuring the things that will never change seem to get the leftovers (if there are any) of our mental energies.
Lest you think we're 100% Bible all the time around here, let me just say that we do watch movies and are slightly too addicted to how the Thunder are doing, and we still find ways to fritter away our time. But we do try to keep God's Word ever before us as the strong undercurrent of the day. We're constantly tweaking this, but here are some practical things we have done that help keep us on track. I offer these to you in the hope that wherever you are, go forward. If you've never done some of this stuff, try adding something. If this is old news, keep going forward!
- The day starts with reading and memorizing the Bible. Yes, we must get up earlier than we'd like to accomplish this. We all use the same version of the Bible and spent extra money buying our kids Bibles that they are aesthetically pleased with. We want them to love their Bibles. We also love actual physical Bibles that you can hold in your hand. It’s worth considering your own weaknesses in using a digital Bible. Facebook, Twitter, and all manner of distractions are only a finger swipe away. Do you really want to be battling those urges when it's hard enough to get up early and read the Bible as it is? This stays a consistent part of our day because Josh makes this a priority for us. Men, your families need you to plot this course and make it a priority. That doesn't mean men have to do everything. In our house, I'm the one who plans and creatively organizes much of what we read and memorize, but it's Josh who makes sure this motor keeps running.
- We all work together on Bible memory. We say it together 7-10 times each morning. We draw pictures. We throw pillows. It can get crazy. It can also feel monotonous. We probably spend 20 minutes a day on Bible memory. Would you believe that 20 minutes a day over the course of three years has yielded a bountiful harvest of scripture tucked away in our hearts? Several entire books of the Bible get accomplished in 20 minutes a day. Don't despise the small things.
- At lunch, we ask someone to share something they remember from that morning's reading. It's amazing how quickly we forget when we don't work to remember. It takes work to hit the "refresh" button in your brain, so we try to find ways to do it together. We try to mentally tie meal-times to God's Word. If man cannot live by bread alone, then let's use that as a cue to deal with our spiritual hunger at each meal. Have someone review out loud what they're working on, share a verse that perhaps popped up in their mind during a particularly challenging event that day, or something from that morning's reading. This helps cue our brains to remember to look out for things during the day that normally would be overlooked.
- We incentivize. We offer big rewards for completing memory work. The new phone my teenager is working for will be so out-of-style when she's having children of her own. But those chunks of God's Word will roam the corners of her heart. Spending extra money to train our habits is well worth the investment for something that will never fade in our hearts. No one gets dessert on Friday Family Night until, as a family, we reach a certain threshold for review during the week. Find what works for you. Don't think that you're bribing yourself or your family to get them to memorize scripture. The real reward will be there long after the physical reward has passed.
- Surround yourself with reminders of truth. Make the walls of your home and office and car (do cars have walls?) serve you. Even if your eyes linger on it for only a second at a time, seconds add up. And as every Olympic speed skater or swimmer knows, seconds matter. Seconds influence thought patterns. Seconds contribute to deep undercurrents that run fast and strong in your life. Spend $20 at a copy store to print out and laminate things to hang around you. Beautiful and compelling reminders of truth are everywhere in this digital age: Desiring God's Instagram page, SheReadsTruth, Youversion, Ann Voskamp, and probably a hundred others offer gospel-driven quotes and convicting scripture printables. We literally have them everywhere—the kitchen sink, bathroom, stairwells. We may not always have 10 minutes to stop and pray or read the Bible, but we do have seconds. And seconds matter.
These are some ideas that have worked for our family. We all work hard at things that matter for only a short time. Let us be willing to give our best efforts, our hardest work, our most creative energies to invest in what will never change, but that will inevitably change us.