It’s amazing how quickly things can get bent out of shape. We start out with things in order, but if we don’t constantly keep checking in with our hearts it’s amazing how fast they fall apart.
I’m thinking today about serving…and how the things that are meant to serve us can easily become the things we serve.
Last year, I struggled with the kids’ homeschool curriculum. It’s a free curriculum, and offers so much in the way of supplies and support that it seemed like a great idea. But there was just so much to the curriculum…there are boxes and boxes of supplies and books full of instructions on different projects, papers, study methods, and writing assignments. You are not meant to do of the assignments, they are there in case you want to go more in depth on a subject or need extra work on a concept. You are supposed to pick and choose a few things to do, and then adjust how much work you do on each lesson according to how well your child is comprehending the concepts. But I had a terrible time not doing all the work that was listed. If it was on the list, I felt compelled to do it and check it off. We struggled with too much work, too much repetition, and too much frustration all year. Homeschooling wasn’t fun for much of it.
The curriculum was meant to serve us, to provide us with an educational framework in which to learn and grow, to be a tool for our benefit. However, at some point I took my eyes off the purpose of homeschooling…to build our children’s character, spirituality and knowledge with complete purpose…and lost sight of the real goal. The more immediate and easy-to-measure goal took its place: to finish the curriculum. The curriculum had ceased to serve us, imperceptively over the course of the year we had begun to serve the curriculum. We had become slaves to the thing that was supposed to serve us!
Realizing what happened last year, I’ve made some plans to change how things work this year. We are only using that curriculum for a few subjects this year, and we will be using a variety of other lessons as well. We’ll be using lessons that better match with our children’s learning styles and with our homeschool goals. However, if this year is different (and I pray that it is) the change in curriculum won’t be the reason. The change has to be in my heart…I will have to remember constantly, daily, hourly if necessary, that the school work is here to serve the kids. That I am teaching and the kids are learning in order to serve God. When our order of serving is in line, our days run smoothly and whatever we are doing seems to fall into place. We find joy in the little steps on our journey and we don’t worry and get upset over the trials we encounter because we know that it’s all in His hands, and if nothing we do that day is appreciated by anyone else…well, the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings, the God of Everything…HE notices. He appreciates our efforts, however small they may seem and however little headway we seem to have made that day in the world’s eyes.
In so many ways, we can get lost and end up serving what’s supposed to serve us. How many times do we find ourselves a slave to something that we were never meant to serve? Do you go to your job to make money to serve your needs, or does it run your life and leave you with little time to enjoy the fruits of your labor? Do the objects you own serve you and bring you pleasure, or do they cause you to work harder to take care of them, pay for them, and replace them with even better things? Most importantly, in whatever you are doing…are you laboring to serve God or to serve something else? It’s all too easy to take your eyes off what is important and serve the wrong thing. It’s amazing how quietly that change can take place, how gradually and imperceptively even something that started out as a tool to help us serve God ends up with us being a slave to it. We devote all our time to building the road, and forget where the road is supposed to be going in the first place!
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Lord, help me to remember that…and give me eyes to see when I have begun to be a slave to anything else!