Monday, September 10, 2012

The Most Important Call

     As I reflect back on the time we became believers in Jesus Christ, I remember the feeling of joy at having my eyes opened and my ears unstopped.  Our conversion was not dramatic.  My husband and I were engaged at the time, and had been searching to re-establish our spiritual roots as we had both drifted away from the church.  This is when we met a couple from Campus Crusade for Christ who was visiting a friend of ours.  We had gone to his house for another reason, but found this couple sharing Christ with he and his wife.  Both of us wanted to know more, so we made a date to get with him.
     On the evening of our appointment, he clearly shared the Gospel with us and told us how we could become believers.  We made that commitment confessing our sins and need of Christ.  This took place three months before we were married, and it has been life changing over the last 41 years.
     Through Campus Crusade, we plugged into discipleship Bible studies and also were encouraged to seek out sound biblical teaching in a local church so we could grow in our faith.  As we did this, we began to ask ourselves if we were called to be missionaries or go into ministry of some sort.  At the time, my husband was studying to be a doctor of optometry.  We prayed and sought the Lord on this matter and He directed us to continue with the professional training my husband had been undergoing.  After all, God uses all of us in different ways to minister to others right where we are planted.
     Having the peace of God concerning our call, we attended a huge gathering of college age believers called "Explo '72" in Dallas, Texas the following year.  Here we attended further Bible training, evangelism and heard addresses by the Reverend Billy Graham.  On the last evening of this event, Rev. Graham asked us to make a dedication of our lives to Christ.  We were told to stand if we were ready and willing to serve Christ with our whole heart.  Both of us stood, and we have never looked back.
     Little did I realize what this commitment would mean in our lives, and this is the crux of what I am sharing today.  Of all the callings that God has placed upon our hearts, the family is the most important mission field today.  If we do not get it right in our home, then we are missing the mark as believers.  In fact, the Bible explicitly lays out the conditions for ministry which revolve around the family.
     Paul's letter to Timothy (I Timothy 3:1-13) lists some conditions for leadership.  Speaking of overseers, Paul writes:  "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife...." (vs. 2a).  He goes on to write in verses 4-5:  "He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?"  Further on in the chapter, he addresses the deacons and repeats the same concern in verse 12:  "Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well."  As we see by these passages, those who aspire to minister within the body of believers must first make certain that they have ministered to the needs of their family.
Our son Nathan's Graduation in 2006
     In our case, we were called by God to do something out of the ordinary in 1986.  He called us to homeschool.  It was new, different (weird to some folks) and somewhat on the edge.  Florida had not yet passed a homeschool law so each school board decided how they would deal with those of us who decided to instruct our children at home.  We did not have access to many books initially and public school book depositories along with some publishers were not interested in helping us.  So, like any pioneers, we managed to search out and find good books and curriculums for our children.   We did not have a computer initially so all my work was handwritten or typed.  I had to keep a daily log of all our studies for each of our children as well.
     Having been trained to be a secondary teacher, I knew how to put together lesson plans, but I had no idea how to teach our young children to read.  Therefore, I became a student myself and found various helps along the way.  In addition to my own work at home with the children, I started a homeschool group along with my dear friend who also had chosen this path so that we could have interaction with other children and plan field trips as the number of homeschool families began to grow in our county.  This was our mission field.  This was our call.
     Today, thankfully, home education is much easier than it was in the past.  There is a good homeschool law in the state of Florida, access to many fine curriculums and options for training children.  However, the sacrifice, time and energy are still required in order to do the job.  Many of my friends did not think my husband and I would continue this whole experiment for very long.  I told them that we would stop this endeavor only if the Lord released us from our commitment to see this through.  God never did.  All of our children graduated from our homeschool, and I am happy to report that we have three college grads and one licensed EMT.  Each of them is walking with the Lord, and this was the most important reason we invested our lives in them.  We wanted them to be solid in their relationship with Christ.
Aaron's college graduation in 2008
     Not everyone is called to home educating their children, but all of us are called to minister to the needs of our family.  We are responsible for teaching them God's Word, instructing them in the faith, and setting solid examples for them by faithfully attending a church fellowship.  Without this commitment, our children are facing a dangerous world without proper spiritual readiness or instruction.  God will hold us accountable for the training of our children.
     Even if you are someone who does not have any children, the Lord can and will use you to touch the lives of others within your extended family as well as the church family.  We all must remember that the Body of Christ is a family and in covenant, we agree to help children in the fellowship grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
     Of all the ministry endeavors we will ever have, the family remains the most important one we cannot afford to neglect.  Little did we know that God would call us to the unusual task of home educating our four children over a 21 year period.  However, He equipped us, led us, provided for us (we lived on one income) and allowed us to see the culmination of our efforts.  He receives all the glory for this, and I would not change a thing.   Whether you homeschool or not, remember to keep your priorities in line and keep family as your chief ministry.  By building a strong home in Christ, we are able to withstand the storms of life and temptations of this world.  Selah!


Christina said...

This post makes me wish you were closer to us, Barbara! I loved reading about your journey and how God has ordered your footsteps. I also couldn't agree more -- family is the building block of any civilization and in Christ, the solid rock. we have a sure foundation upon which to stand in the storms. May God bless you and your family.

Barbara Thayer said...

Oh thank you Christina. I know how great it would be to fellowship face to face with you. God has each of us on a journey doesn't He? Each one of us listening to His voice and responding to His call makes the Body function according to His plan. You are a sweet sister in Christ and I know your labors to teach a Bible study are making an impact on others. May God continue to bless you in your ministry and family too! Blessings my friend!