Christ Is Relevant: Back to School
by Stephanie Graham
I needed to find Christ relevant to this back to school season. You see, this year back to school is different. We have a 9th grader and a 6th grader – a high school boy and a middle schoolboy. Both of my babies are growing up, and it’s way too fast for my liking.
Two repetitive refrains have been whirling through my mind all summer. The first refrain has been, “Four more years, four more years, four more years.” In four short years my firstborn, the one who made me a mommy, will graduate high school.
It was love, at first sight, the moment I laid eyes on him, and now that tiny baby has his own thoughts, dreams, opinions. That baby is embarking on a journey into high school, and in four short years, he’ll be off to college. I know that nothing will ever be quite the same after that, because he’ll be on the cusp of adulthood. I want to savor every moment, hold on to time, and cram every ounce of knowledge I possess into him in the next four years.
Leaving the elementary years forever.
The second refrain that has passed through my mind all summer is, “He’s your last, he’s your last, he’s your last.” My youngest, my last baby, the one who taught me that a mother’s love multiplies instead of divides, is now on his way to middle school. He wants to be more grown-up like his big brother, but he’s still my baby in so many ways. I’ve let him be because he’s my last. The summer has been so bittersweet as we leave those elementary years forever. This is the last child we will have to enter middle school.
As I took them to locker day, so many questions and thoughts were running through my mind. They were in no particular order of importance. Mostly, the questions were a jumbled mess, causing anxiety and worry about these precious souls that God has entrusted to me. Thankfully, God brings order when I make a mess of my thoughts. As I tried to find Christ relevant to school, He brought order and comfort to my mind as the questions and thoughts rushed through. Maybe some of these questions plague other mommas (or daddies) out there. Maybe I’m the only one. Either way, this is what is on my heart today.
Have I taught them everything I should have?
Have I taught them everything I should have, or am I sending them off to the halls of middle and high school unprepared?
I quickly answered my own question. Of course, I haven’t taught them everything. I fail daily in the teachable moments. Some days I get so caught up in the activities of the daily grind, and I forget to live life with purpose instead of just a series of events. Even when I don’t let teachable moments pass by, my boys are not always receptive.
As I drove off the school campus yesterday, wondering if I had done a good job in preparing my boys for these new phases of life, I very nearly hyperventilated. It’s a heavy responsibility, this raising of children. I was reminded that God never has to worry about whether He has taught us everything He should. His Word gives us perfect instructions for life. His directions are there for us. Like my kids, I often don’t listen to His instructions. But I never have to worry about them being the right instructions or whether He has thought of everything.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
I’m so thankful that I have the perfect instruction manual to guide me if I will only follow it. I have to find Christ relevant to school too!
Have I made the best decisions for my boys?
I strive to make the best decisions every day, but I know I don’t always get it right. None of us do. My middle school guy is going to a new school, leaving friends he has had since kindergarten. He’s nervous, and that makes me sad. It reminds me of our oldest entering middle school three years ago, and the nerves and anger that he had about leaving his friends, his comfort zone. Thankfully, he is well adjusted and happy at his school. I know our middle school guy will be well adjusted and happy before long too.
How did I find Christ relevant to school? We asked God to direct us when we chose what middle and high school to send our boys to, and He did. But, when I see my youngest nervous and anxious, I second guess myself just for a moment. I am so glad that God doesn’t struggle with this. God is sovereign. He does not make mistakes. He ordained the order and the direction of our lives long before we were born.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
This verse is from the Old Testament and is speaking to a specific group of people. But, it still holds true today. God has plans for each of us, and His plans are perfect. He gives us free will to choose, and we will make mistakes. But, in His sovereignty, He can fix any mistakes we make and ultimately use them for His glory. Whew! That is comforting.
Have I taught my boys the appropriate balance of grace and discipline?
This parenting gig is hard work. It’s a delicate balance, and it’s tough to remain consistent. Do I overreact or hold onto anger when they make mistakes? Or, do I let them slide by too much? I fear I have done both in spades. We have choices every day in how we handle situations. My boys’ behavior choices aren’t always right, and the way I react to their choices isn’t always right.
As my thoughts from this summer came crashing together, the Lord began to remind me that the grace He gave me at salvation continues in my everyday life. I love how Christ shows Himself relevant to school! That grace is what gives me the power to live a life free of bondage, worry, and fear. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul is discussing his thorn in the flesh.
But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
I am a woman who needs great grace from Jesus, and I am a woman who wants to give great grace to others. I’m thankful that His grace is sufficient. When I fully embrace the grace He has given me, I’ll model grace to my boys.
Have I loved my kids well?
Oh, I want my boys to really know how very much I love them! Parenting is the hardest, scariest, but most wonderful journey on Earth. I tell them every day how much I love them, but kids don’t come equipped with an instruction manual, and I don’t want my actions when I fail to speak louder than the words I say to them.
At times I’ve been too much of a “helicopter parent,” and I haven’t allowed them to make their own mistakes to grow and learn. On the other hand, there have been times I have not spent enough focused time with them. There are times I’ve yelled when I should have offered grace. And there have been times I’ve let them walk all over me when I should have cracked down on them. I’ve pushed them to be more mature than they needed to be, and then I’ve babied them too much and didn’t allow them to grow. I’ve lectured and shamed, and I’ve defended and championed for them.
Conflicting decisions in the parenting journey
There are so many conflicting decisions in this parenting journey. The bottom line is, all of those actions were done out of complete love and devotion to my boys. The Lord has woven into my heart this summer that I need to rest in His perfect love, and then I will be able to rest knowing that the love I show my boys is enough because He makes it enough.
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV
His love surpasses all knowledge, and I pray that the Lord takes my mistakes and makes my love perfect through Him. I want my kids to know they are loved completely.
Have I taught them to have a passion for Jesus?
I have faithfully taken my boys to church from birth. I have worked for the Lord their entire lives. But, I know for many years I did not model a deep, intimate relationship with my Redeemer. I was still “on milk” (Hebrews 5:13), a baby Christian not growing in the knowledge of Him.
God began a work in me two years ago when He stripped me of the routine of church for a period of months due to a horrible accident. I didn’t have the fellowship of other believers. I couldn’t stay laser-focused on the work in the church. During that time, He began to teach me to sit in fellowship with Him instead of always being busy. He began to teach me to rest in Him, instead of striving to get it right all the time. In the process, He gave me a passion for Him and His work that I have never experienced. The work is so important—souls hang in the balance and believers must tell them about Jesus. However, the Lord has graciously taught me that passionately pursuing intimacy with Him IS the bulk of the work.
Others will see a difference in your life when you passionately pursue Him. He will guide you to ministry when you passionately pursue Him. The work will be a gift from God because you allowed Him to have His will in your life. This is what I want for my boys. I want them to have a passion for Jesus, and to grow into adults that rest in Him and His will for their lives.
My school year prayer
So yesterday, as I pulled off of the campus where I left two huge pieces of my world at middle school and high school orientation, I meditated on the things on my heart and all that the Lord is teaching me. As I sought to find Christ relevant to back to school, I determined this is my prayer for my boys:
I pray that they will know that I don’t know everything and they don’t know everything, but the God who created the world and spun it in motion does know everything. And I pray that they will know that I try to make the best possible decisions for them, but the Lord has perfect plans for them. I pray that they will know that they will make mistakes and that I will get angry with them, but I will always love them. Let them be recipients of the grace of Jesus, and teach them to be givers of grace. Please let them know that they are lavishly loved by their very human, imperfect mom. More importantly, let them know they are lavishly loved by Jesus. Above all else, please give my boys a passion for Jesus.
I am giving my boys and this school year to Jesus.
This blog post was written by Stephanie Graham.
Stephanie Graham is a Christian worker who strives to find Christ relevant to every area of her life. Coming through various traumas, she victoriously proclaims the sufficiency of Christ to overcome Satan’s strategies. As a compassionate caregiver who desires to serve the body of Christ, Stephanie ministers to motivate spiritual maturity.
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