Don’t Ring the Bell

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, HCSB)

In January, my family and I attended my father-in-law’s retirement party in Texas. He served for fifty years as a pastor, preacher, and missionary in places as diverse as India, South Africa, Illinois, and South Carolina. We were honored to be present as he delivered his final sermon to the flock he served for the past twenty-two years. We were delighted to see the church body express its gratitude and well wishes to this humble and faithful servant. Stories were shared, laughter filled the room, hugs were heartfelt, and tears flowed freely.

Let’s face it, the retirement of a longtime pastor can be scary for all parties involved. Yet God always seems to have another leader ready to step up and take on the mission He wants accomplished. In Deuteronomy 34 and Joshua 1, we read of the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Moses had led the children of Israel for forty years, but now it was time for him to go home and rest in the presence of God. To take Moses’ place and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua was promoted from key player to playmaker.

As this transition was taking place, God reminded Joshua of some important fundamentals to help him succeed.

What changes are you currently facing? Are you tackling your first year of homeschooling, of being in the trenches with your little ones? Or have you been through the battles and your youngest child is about to graduate? Whether you are facing an opportunity, a challenge, or a “retirement,” you can meet it with confidence by sticking to the fundamentals that God shared with Joshua.

Fundamental #1: Be Assured that God Is Present (Joshua 1:9)

In Joshua 1:5, God declares that He will never leave nor forsake the new leader of Israel. In verse nine, God reinforces this message, saying that He will be with Joshua wherever he goes. This had to be reassuring.

If you are just beginning your homeschooling journey, you will do well to remember that God is with you and will never leave you nor forsake you. Even though there are millions of families homeschooling these days, there will be times when you feel like you’re all alone. Even if you have wisely surrounded yourself with a good support system, you will still need to lean on your heavenly Father for strength, guidance, wisdom, and courage to face each day.

You may not want to hear this, but you can’t do this on your own. You heard me right: You cannot do this. But you can do this with the help of God (Philippians 4:13). Stay close to Him, for He will be your best counselor for whatever you are facing.

Fundamental #2: Be Strong and Courageous (Joshua 1:7)

Joshua had to wrestle through some extremely difficult challenges. The people of Israel weren’t the most faithful of followers. They doubted God frequently, often made foolish decisions, and whined like little children. Does this sound like your homeschool student body?

When Rachael and I were in the trenches with four young kids, it sometimes seemed that every day was nothing but dirty laundry, crying babies, sibling rivalry, and hungry tummies. When was she supposed to find time to do anything resembling education? In these moments we had to remind ourselves that what we were doing was important. We had to be courageous and stand strong in our conviction that we were building relationships and doing life in a way that would make an eternal difference.

Two decades later, I can say with absolute assurance that every tear was worth it. I’m so thankful we didn’t give in to self-doubt. Our kids love us, they love each other, and most importantly, each one loves God with all his or her heart.

You aren’t the first person who trusted God and then had to face a scary challenge. Think of the courage that David had to muster as he approached Goliath. Or Moses as he went before Pharaoh. Can you imagine what it was like for Elijah to call out the prophets of Baal?

Please don’t give up. Be strong and courageous.

Fundamental #3: Obey God’s Word (Joshua 1:7)

God reminds Joshua to obey His commandments, which Moses had handed down to him. The Lord’s instructions were to remain in his heart and on his lips. If Joshua walked according to His word, God promised that Joshua would prosper and succeed in whatever he did.

Proverbs 19:10 tells us that the words of God and His ordinances are more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey. We will be rewarded for keeping the commandments of the Lord. They are good for our souls. His commandments are true, and by them we are sanctified (John 17:17).

If we will seek God and His kingdom first, His divine power will give us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture is a great way to remember His Word.

So don’t forget God or His Word. He certainly won’t forget about you.

Fundamental #4: Don’t Ring the Bell

When a soldier trains to be a Navy SEAL, he must endure Hell Week, a grueling five and half days of continuous training in the harshest conditions designed to thin out the weak. The key to surviving this week and moving on to the next phase of training is desire. Those who make it are those who want most to be part of this elite military unit.

For the others, there is a bell on site. Every candidate knows that when the going gets tough and they want to quit, all they have to do is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you can go home to a delicious meal, a comfortable bed, a refreshing drink, perhaps a desk job, and considerably less stress.

Here is my message to you: Don’t ring the bell! Persevere. Hang in there. Never, ever give up. Your kids will thank you. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. You might have to wait for a phone call long after they leave home. But the day will come. Don’t miss out on the future blessings and fruitful harvest. Don’t grow tired of doing this good work. You will reap a harvest in time if you don’t give up (Galatians 6:9).

Don’t ring the bell!

Which of these fundamentals do you need to grasp in order to make it through the big transition you’re currently facing?

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!

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© 2015 Davis Carman

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