And just like that, our world changed overnight.
Already my seven-year-old wants to turn off the news. My four-year-old says he just wants Jesus to come back and make it all go away.
As young as our children are, they know that what is going on is more than just canceled t-ball practices and extra vacation time. They're watching our reactions. They're listening to our conversations. They're learning from us how to navigate this uncertain time.
But amid this crisis, most of us have providentially been placed at home with our families. There is no better time - and no clearer opportunity - to point them to the Lord.
The Privilege of Homeschooling
For the last five years, we have homeschooled our children. Without question, there are difficult days. But homeschooling has given one opportunity I've deeply cherished: the ability to begin our day in the word. Slower mornings allow us to linger around the table, open the Bible, and explore the scriptures as a family. Some days are chaotic. Some days there are tears and spilled milk. Occasionally, I break up a fight. But every day we read together. And every time, I realize what a blessing it is to be home with my children.
Maybe you've just been thrust into homeschooling life and feel entirely unprepared. Or perhaps you feel like you're sinking beneath the waves of an ever-changing future. Whatever the case, many of us are trying to help our children (and ourselves) experience calm through this time of uncertainty.
But friends, we know the God who rules the storm. The one who remained at rest when waves crashed all around. The one who stood in the raging waters and said, "be still," -and they obeyed (Matthew 8:23-27). And as Christian families, we have before us a rare opportunity.
Apart from the COVID-19 crisis, many of us couldn't (or wouldn't choose to) homeschool our children. Even as a homeschooling mom, I understand that. But what a privilege we have right now to give our children more of the word. To have them at home with us and lead them in prayer when the future is so uncertain? Could there be a better time than now to establish Christ as the head of your household?
But How Do I Begin?
When the children were small, we’d gather on the couch and squish together after breakfast. We read and reread our children's Bible until it wore out. Then we'd try another one and begin again. As our children grew older, we began to just read the Bible. I read out loud, often pausing to emphasize or explain a passage. We started with smaller books like Jonah and Ruth, Daniel, and Esther. Later, we read through Genesis, 1 Samuel, Matthew, Luke, and the beginning of Exodus. When the 4-year-old repeatedly requested Revelation, we (hesitatingly) read, even that. The gospels showed us the beauty of our Lord. Books like Ruth, Daniel, Esther, and Jonah gave our children tangible lessons and characters they related to.
If your children like to draw (as ours did), a simple composition book makes a memorable keepsake to sketch their favorite part of the story or jot down a verse, as you read. And then finish with prayer, encouraging them to pray with you. Pray for the worries on their heart. Pray for your worries, even in front of your children. Let them see the honesty of a wavering heart, poured out before our Lord in true faith- and gain assurance that the God their parents serve is real.
It may take a little while to establish this habit. But when else will you have such an opportunity before you? If everything soon returns to normal, you will have left your children a beautiful gift and example. If everything does not return to normal, and even more challenging days lay ahead, then these mornings in the word may give a needed foundation for strengthening in the seasons to come.
His Promise to Us – "My Word Will Not Return Empty"
As I've encouraged other families in this over the years, I often hear the response, "But I don't know the Bible well enough to do that."
You know what? Revelation is probably the hardest book in the Bible to understand, leaving even the best Bible teachers with questions. Yet what does the Lord say, right at the beginning of the book? "Blessed is everyone who reads and those who hear the words…" (Revelation 1:3).
God knows we're not going to understand everything. But just in the reading, we are blessed. Just in opening his word and holding it before our children, as the source of life, we give them a beautiful example. In Isaiah 55:11, the Lord promises his word "will not return void," and as one who has been reading with my children for the last seven years, I have to say, "amen."
Some mornings I think they're not listening, but later I'll hear my son asking his dad questions about something we read. Other times I wonder if the stories are sinking in, until I hear my oldest chime in with verses at our church Bible study. And I can't even count how many times my own heart has been convicted and helped as I've shared the word with them. Friends, it is so so good to read the word together. And it is such an opportunity we have before us right now to be able to read the word at home, in an unhurried way, with our children.
Yes, the world is uncertain right now. Our lives just got flipped upside down and we're in this storm together trying to figure out our new normal. From one homeschool mom to another, I know this is hard. Days are exhausting. Those breaks you greatly anticipated have disappeared. Extra time together makes tempers flare, and nerves grow short. And I can almost assure there will be days when you feel overwhelmed and wish it would all be over.
And yet, we have access to the Lord who is over the storm. We can lift our eyes above the waves and say, "Help Lord, I'm sinking" (Matthew 14:22-33). And we can point our children to do the same.
May the Lord strengthen our hands for the work before us. May he show us how to come to him, as a household, at such a time as this. And may our children see the reality of parents who have entrusted their lives to the God at rest through the storm.