Outside the Greenhouse

1 Mar 2005

I remember when my oldest son, Micah, was about two years old. I walked into a room that he had just finished trashing and said in alarm, “Micah!” He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and in all innocence said, “Wha’ Micah do?” That was eighteen years ago. Last fall, Micah called me from college to seek my counsel about something. Now he was asking, “What should Micah do?” He is willing to seek counsel, even from 725 miles away, because he developed the habit as a child. He would come to talk to me and his mom about any problem he was facing. When he was young, Micah went through a period where he would come and confess anything he had done wrong or even thought of doing wrong. I can remember many nights, just as I was about to drift off into a peaceful slumber, I would hear that familiar voice at the bedroom door saying, “Mom? Dad? Can I talk to you about something?” Most of the time what Micah really needed was to know that we loved him and we thought he was doing well. Sometimes he needed correction or encouragement to change something in his life. He always wanted and needed for me to pray for him and ask the Lord to give him, my firstborn child, His peace. In almost every case, he was willing to listen to what his mom and dad had to say, because he had learned to love and respect us as his authorities. He had learned the hard way (as most of us have to) that the safest place to be is under the umbrella of protection that is afforded a child who submits gladly to his parents.

The culmination of these visits in the night came last year when Micah popped his head in to say, “Dad, I’m not sure sometimes whether I need to come to you with a question, or if I just need to pray about it and see what the Lord tells me. But I guess I do know, actually, because if I take it to the Lord but it keeps bugging me, and I can’t get it out of my mind, then I know I am supposed to come to you as well.” I knew then that he was ready to leave home and face the challenges of life outside the greenhouse of family. He was ready to be transplanted in a world that is hostile to most of what he believes and stands for; he was ready to make a difference in the culture. I knew that was true because I had seen Micah transfer his dependence from his earthly father to his Heavenly Father.

He has found in Jesus a wonderful counselor who is never too busy, always willing to listen and always has the right answer. He has learned how to search the Scriptures to find counsel, and he has learned how to seek the Lord through prayer and wait until he gets an answer. He has developed a relationship with Jesus Christ that is all his own, and the fruit of that relationship is now evident in the counsel Micah is able to give to others in college, to the young men at church and to his six younger siblings.

There is nothing like the protection that a family can provide as we raise little ones to maturity in the greenhouse of home education. It is a safe place that nurtures these children like olive plants (Psalm 128:3) as they grow up. God has given us these tender plants to raise and nurture and the home should be a safe place. Within this safe place children can practice the principles that they have been taught. They are also able to venture out and then return for the encouragement and correction that they need. But the end result is that the children leave the home, fully equipped and prepared to make a difference in the culture for the Kingdom! Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. (Psalm 127:4) Arrows in the quiver may look nice but they don’t do anything. Arrows are made to be released toward a target so that the army can advance. May God give us wisdom and courage as homeschool parents to train up sons and daughters who will be ready to hit the target for which they were created!

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