Famous Last (Homeschool) Words
Recently I was asked to help a family come up with some words for the headstone of their 3–year–old child, who had passed through death to eternal life. In a few words we described the character and nature of this precious little guy. We looked at his whole little life and came up with appropriate adjectives that put his unique persona into word form so others would come to know him too—a few words that summed up a whole life.
Can we sum up in a few words what our life looks like right now? How about what it looked like last year? Typically, when looking back, we see that we have not done all we wanted to do. And, when we look at the present, we see we do not live how we want to live. And yet the hopeful future allows us to look forward to a new year's clean slate to write better words on.
If your life were required of you today, this moment, what would be the adjectives that describe you right now? What words would your husband, children, friends, and family say? Here is my honest–to–not–so–goodness list of things that could be written about me today:
Unfaithful in her relationship with her God (she could have been more faithful)
Impatient in her relationship with her spouse (she could have been more patient)
Unkind in her relationship with her children (she could have been much kinder)
Judgmental in her relationship with friends and family (she could have shown more mercy and grace)
Scattered in all her doings (she could have been more organized and prepared)
Unfaithful, impatient, unkind, judgmental, scattered—not exactly the words that would make a good epilogue of my life. These are not the words of life, but rather they are the words of a woman who still has too much death residing in her. What kinds of words should describe my life at any given moment in time? More importantly, what words would God want to hear? How do I get from my earthly words to hearing these heavenly words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)?
I believe God wants to say those words to us even more than we want to hear them. Our lives seem to show that fact daily. Thus, He gives us what we need to live a life worthy of those words. His Words of life need to replace my words of death. I must know them to get from here to there. In other words, if I want to hear Him say “well done,” then I should work backwards and determine the meaning of these words: good and faithful servant. What does it mean to be good? What does it mean to be faithful? What does it mean to be a servant of God? These are the things that will cause God to say those famous last words: “Well done.”
Famous Last Word: GOODI want to be good: a good Christian, a good mother, a good wife, a good friend, a good teacher. But I am none of these things. Several times, the Bible states that “there is no one good; not one” (see Psalm 53:1–3, Luke 18:18–19, Romans 3:10–12), so then how do we reconcile this lack of goodness in us? How can we be called “good” if there is no one good? If we look at the context of that passage in Luke, you see that Jesus is telling the rulers that if they were calling Him good, they were calling him God, for the only place goodness is found is in Him. It looks to me like they didn't even understand their own words, let alone what Christ was implying. Can we see the logic here that they couldn't see: Jesus is good; therefore, Jesus is God, for there is none good but God.
However, a myriad of Scriptures pronounce God's goodness, so if His Spirit dwells in these earthen vessels, then what they are filled with is His goodness. It's not that the vessel is good; rather, what is in the vessel is good. Even though we have all sinned, the sin of our vessel is covered in order that we might have the words His righteousness declared over us:
He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
… And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:9). Ah, and here is the crux of the matter: we have no goodness, but He is abundant in goodness (Exodus 34:6). His great goodness covers my great earthiness. His highly exalted righteousness covers my base and lowly nature. His divine nature gives me everything I need for life and goodness through the knowledge of His Son and His Word. So, we can rest in the fact that if Jesus Christ is in us, and His Word dwells in us, then God the Father will look at us and declare that famous last word–good–over us and our lives.
Famous Last Word: FAITHFULI am unfaithful, faithless, and faith–challenged. I often live in the opposite of faith: fear. I fear the outcome of the teaching of my students, I fear the lack of strength to do a good job, and I fear the words and judgment of others. I fear myself and the bad example that I am setting. I fear that I am not faithful or good enough. How can I get from this fearful place to the place of faithfulness so that I can hear God apply that description to me? Once again, that faithful word applies to our faithful God, and then through God to me. I can never reach the pinnacle of faithfulness, but He already has:
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9).
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness(1 John 1:9).
But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
God's faithfulness provides us mercy, calls us into fellowship with His Son, forgives us, establishes us, and keeps us from evil. When I understand His faithfulness, then I begin to understand how to be a faithful servant–a servant who is full of mercy, fellowship, forgiveness, stability, and free from evil– just like Him.
Famous Last Word: SERVANT
To really understand what kind of servant God is looking for, we must look at Jesus:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5–8).
Christ took on the form of a servant, as one commentary states, “… without rights, willing to be treated as the will of the Father and the malice of men might decree, if only He might thereby serve men and bring them back to God. And you and I are to be the bond–servants of Him… whose disposition is ever that of humility and whose activity is ever that of humbling Himself to serve His creatures. How utterly low, then, is our true position! How this shows us what it means to be ruled by the Lord Jesus!”1 Here we must say with the Psalmist: “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds” (Psalm 116:16).
To be a servant like Jesus, we must serve by being poured out to serve others. A servant doesn't grumble about what she is asked to do, because it is her job to do as her Master bids. We must serve others willingly, for it is the Lord Christ we serve. And in case we forget what servanthood looks like, we need only look at Jesus' poured out life.
We must serve the Lord by teaching our children truth and by fighting against sin, mediocrity, worldly standards, and anti–God philosophies. His goodness and faithfulness will make us good and faithful as we serve Him and instruct our children to do the same. God calls us good, His Spirit makes us faithful, and Jesus shows us what servanthood looks like.
Jesus' Last Words
When I have to leave the house on an errand, I go to each child and give last words to each one. I give clear direction, caution, and guidance for the time I will be gone. I need to know they heard me, that they understood my commands and are able to do what I asked. Most of all, I need to let them know I love them. In my book, these are important last words. They convey my heart and my commands. In the same manner, Jesus' last words conveyed His love and His commands, which He wanted us to pay close attention to.
Jesus' recorded last words were in the form of a prayer to His Father in John 17. These words are what he wanted to figuratively hold the faces and hold the attention of His disciples before He left this earth. The passage makes it clear that His main goal was to show them the Father. (Note to self: my main goal should be to show my kids the Father.) Jesus wanted to show His followers that God's love for them was equal to the excessive and immeasurable love He has for His own Son. (Note to self: I want to show my children that immeasurable Father love by the ways that I serve and respond to them, by the way I love their father, and by the way I serve others in humility.) Jesus wanted God's love to be in us and “I in them”–His divinity taking up residence within our humanity, His very nature within our natural selves. When we finally get a vision of Who dwells within us, we will finally have a passion to allow Him to live out His life and His Word through His dwelling.
May God grant us the determination to stay on course, to keep the vision, to not stray from the path set before us, and to stop looking for rest from service on this side but to keep serving and fighting the good fight of faith until we reach the other side. Good… faithful servant. These are the things that are pleasing to God; Jesus is pleasing to God because He embodies those things. God said this about His Son: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). To please God is to be a good, faithful servant like His Son.
Famous Last (Homeschool) Words
Matthew 25 contains several passages about the kingdom of heaven. One of them includes these words: “The kingdom of heaven… will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property…” (Matthew 25:1, 14, ESV). These are the same servants He calls good and faithful. Let's look at our lives and see what has been entrusted to us as the property of God. We won't have to look far to see that we have been entrusted with the lives of His property: our children. How will we raise that which is the property of God? Will we raise them to bring forth fruit for their Master or for themselves? Will they multiply His kingdom or just be good at multiplication? I believe they are entrusted to us that they might learn to be good and faithful servants of God just as we are called to be.
Why are we homeschooling? What's the big deal? Here's the deal: God wants the hearts of your children and their children, and He has a bigger purpose for the next generations than we do for their math test tomorrow. We must think in eternal terms as we live out these non–eternal days. We must think not only about what our own tombstones should say but also about what God wants to write on the hearts of His children and ours.
As good, faithful servants of God, we should no longer be caught up in the petty frustrations of the day; rather, we must be wrapped up in the grand design and purpose of God. After all, only God can take an unfaithful, impatient, unkind, judgmental, and scattered woman and write “good and faithful servant” on her heart and life.
What does that look like in your life? It looks like you being obedient to God's commands to love Him and serve Him and to raise those children of His to know Him. It is to raise them to look higher than higher education–up into the heavenly realm of purpose and design. It's about writing God's Word on your heart as you reveal Him to them during science and history and art instruction. It's about speaking words of life about their true purpose–not merely to be good but to be like Jesus because He was pleasing to God, so that they, too, can hear Him say those famous last words themselves: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your joy.”
How can you best nurture your children to be faithful servants of their Master? By being a good and faithful servant yourself and following God's commands as penned in His Word. What is the best environment for this kind of Godly nurturing to take place? The answer is captured in these famous last (homeschool) words: Home Where They Belong.
- http://christianbookshelf.org/hession/the_calvary_road/chapter_8_are_you_willing.htm, accessed December 14, 2011. Return to text.
Copyright, 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, January 2012. Read this digital, interactive magazine free by visiting: www.TOSMagazine.com or read on your Kindle Fire or Apple and Android devices by downloading the free TOS apps.