Sunday, November 6, 2016

Anchor and Lighthouses in Homeschooling

In many ways, homeschooling is like a journey. Sometimes it feels like a sea journey. There are times when the voyage is smooth while at other times it’s rough. Sometimes the journey is as clear as the daylight, but there are also times when it’s uncertain and as dark as the darkest night.

Sixteen years ago, we decided to homeschool our children in spite of lack of knowledge, resources and materials, in spite of zero moral support from family and friends, and non-existence of homeschool support group like our Lighthouse Homeschool Network (LHN) now.

What I want to share with you today are some of the lessons that Cathy and I have learned from our homeschooling journey, which I’m comparing to a sea voyage, and we as amateur sailors. As I do, I would like to focus on two important things, which I call mariner’s aids or tools that help provide a stable and safer homeschooling journey. The first tool is the anchor and the second one is the lighthouse.

As homeschoolers on a journey, we have a goal and a destiny. Of course, our ultimate goal as Christians in all and every endeavor, including homeschooling, is to give glory to God. We were created to show forth the beauty and majesty of our Lord and Creator who revealed Himself clearly in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. That’s our ultimate goal in everything – to honor him.

Now, how do we get there? It’s a life-long journey, you would say. And that’s true. And our homeschool journey is an important aspect of that lifelong journey.

What do we need in order to get there? Well, like traveling at sea, we need first of all, an anchor, “that which gives the [assurance] of stability or security, or a source of abiding confidence.” An anchor symbolizes strength and stability in seafaring especially in the midst of a storm.

In the Bible anchor is used figuratively of the hope that we have in the promises of God. Hebrews 6:19 says: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Well, in context, the promises of God pertain to the believers’ secured position in Christ which includes our redemption from and forgiveness of sin and the hope of entering God’s glorious presence.

In other words, our hope, our anchor, is securely fastened to our faithful and unchanging God who fulfills all His promises to His children. And the anchor that firmly connects us to God is our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Him, our hope, our position, cannot be moved or shipwrecked by the storms of life. That’s how strong our anchor is! That’s how stable and solid the rock which our anchor holds on to!

Thus, like the sailors that drop their anchor in the middle of the sea in order to provide stability for the ship, especially during the storm, we also fasten our hope, we fix our eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ, our anchor, who provides us with security and firmness, as Christ intercedes and connects us to God.

The only difference between the sailors’ anchor and ours is that while the sailors drop their anchor with the hope that it would hold on to something firm and sturdy under the sea we, however, thrust our anchor, by faith, upward to heaven, where our hope is fixed, even in Christ who ministers for us at the Father’s right hand. Christ is our hope of glory who provides for us security and stability in times of trouble. Christ does this for us through His unceasing intercession and through the constant ministry of His Spirit in our lives.

How does it relate to our homeschooling? Well, it’s through this. If our aim is to please Christ or to glorify God, our homeschooling materials and resources and activities must be grounded on something that help us achieve this aim. That means that our resources and materials and activities should be Biblically-based, Christ-centered, and God-pleasing.

There are a lot of teaching materials and resources available in the internet and the market today that will help our children achieve academic excellence and earn them scholarship in prestigious institutions of higher learning. But academic excellence must not be our ultimate aim in homeschooling. It must be subordinate to our main goal of knowing and pleasing Christ.

We may have children who will become academic elite, but if they lack humility, respect for authority and genuine concern for other people and the kingdom of Christ, their academic achievements will fail them eventually.

We want children who are not only academically competent but also spiritually mature and committed to help in accomplishing the Great Commission of Christ, which is to make faithful disciples from all corners of the earth.

I want to address our children here. Children, in your studies, aim for something that’s beyond the here and now. Anchor your effort in your studies to something bigger than this world. Aim at serving Christ and glorifying Christ in your studies now. Use the gifts and talents God has given you to serve Him and to serve others and you will know that your anchor, your effort, is holding on to something stable.

Now, boys and girls, how about the lighthouse? What is a lighthouse and what is its purpose? A lighthouse “is a tower with a bright light at the top, located at an important or dangerous place regarding navigation (or travel over water). The two main purposes of a lighthouse are to serve as a navigational aid and to warn boats of dangerous areas. It is like a traffic sign on the sea.”

Historians said that the first lighthouses were actually given by nature itself. Sailors sometimes used landmarks such as glowing volcanoes to guide them. In the ancient world, trading ships were eventually built enabling navigators to sail long distances to buy and sell goods. In the days of wooden ships with sails, the wind and waves could easily push them against the rocks and wreck them. And so, the need for lighthouses as warning signals arose.

In homeschooling, we need lighthouses. We need something, or someone, to guide us on our way and to warn us when we are heading at the wrong direction. I would like to share with you only two lighthouses in our own homeschooling experience.

First, we need counselors or mentors in homeschooling. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” The Word of God encourages us to employ the wise counsel of others in our endeavors, and homeschooling is no exception. With many unknowns and many options in homeschooling, it is important that in our journey we have fellow voyagers and pilgrims who not only give us wise counsel but also encourage us when we are down and troubled.

That’s where we’ve seen the need to start a homeschool support group in 2009. Lighthouse Homeschool Network has been a great support group for our family here in Davao City and I encourage you to avail of the wisdom and experience of our fellow homeschoolers. To some of you maybe your church support group has been serving as a lighthouse as well.

Some families can do it all by themselves, but many of us opt to pull resources together. And for us the journey has been more enjoyable and pleasing with LHN. So thank you so much for all of you who have encouraged us and helped us in our own journey. We’ve gained a lot of friends and connections through LHN. We also have grown in our knowledge of homeschooling and Christian parenting through many of you. I hope that you will continue to keep your lights shining, your Christian virtues and values, to help our fellow travelers in homeschooling.

Another lighthouse that has been guiding our homeschooling – and this is very important – is of course the Word of God, the Bible. One of the most memorable times I have in homeschooling our children is to be able to read with them the Bible and to share with one another the things that we’re learning from it. Bible reading is an important lighthouse for homeschoolers.

Aside from the Bible, we’ve also read books together, either books that help us know God more, or books about Church Fathers, Christian theologians, missionaries, pastors, and even musicians in the past. These books have enriched not only our knowledge of God and Christ and the lives of believers in the past, but they also made our homeschooling experience enjoyable and exciting. Just reading books together enlightens a lot our way.

I know many of you, if not all of you are doing this already. But, boys and girls, isn’t it a lot of fun when mommy or daddy reads books aloud for us? Of course! Maybe, sometime we could have reading stories together as a support group. That’s something that we could probably include in our joint activities in the future.

Well, I could add some more ‘lighthouses’ that could guide our way in homeschooling but I think those two are important – support group and family time. Let us remember that our greater goal in homeschooling is to bring ourselves to a deeper understanding of Christ and a greater commitment to His kingship and lordship over us.

Ultimately, we want to glorify and honor God in everything we do, including our labor to bring up and teach our children in the ways of the Lord. May the Lord continue to give us the grace and the right motive to do this!

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