Dr. Perrin, when he speaks of scholé, often uses the story of Mary and Martha to illustrate. It is easy to become the Martha – bustling and busy and distracted. More than that, she’s easily irritated, so caught up in her production and housework that she almost missed the point.
That hits home.
Sarah Mackenzie, in Teaching from Rest, draws on the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. We bring our pittance in faith, and Jesus works the miracle and brings the increase.
Another analogy that fits is Jesus’ parable of the talents. The master gives resources – differing amounts – to his servants. All but one follow through, invest, do business, put their hand to the plow and see it through. One, however, operates from fear and buries his single resource so he won’t lose it and can return it intact to the master.
Fear prevents us from making wise choices and being fruitful.
Like Martha, we are tempted to be distracted and bustle with the busy work, missing the opportunities in front of our faces for meaningful experiences.
Like the disciples, we are likely to miss the possibility that our insufficiency is enough when we offer it to Jesus in faith.
Like the fearful servant, we sometimes make decisions based on fear, thinking God has asked of us a hard thing and it’s up to us to get it right.
Yes, I’d read Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie in the first ebook edition, more than once. But I had to read it again when the “real” version was released. This is not the same book, now in print. Dr. Perrin went through a long editing process with Sarah, providing feedback and suggestions, and Teaching from Rest is the richer for it. We are the richer for it, too.
P.S. I also received my copy free, because that’s what friends do. It came directly from CAP, though, so I have no autograph or personal note in mine. Sniff.
My favorite section in this revised and expanded edition is what Sarah says about faithfulness.
Peace comes from recognizing that our real task is to wake up each day and get our marching orders from God. It comes from diligence to the work He hands us, but diligence infused with faith, with resting in God’s promises to guide and bless us.
- Faithfulness must be the core from which we operate as homeschooling moms.
- Faithfulness undercuts our temptation to control outcomes, because we don’t.
- Faithfulness also undercuts our temptation to “let go and let God.”
We are not to bury our talent and say, “Ok, God, if you want to double my portion, you are welcome to make that spontaneously happen whenever you want.” Sure, God could. But that’s not what He’s asked of us. He’s asked us to invest, to pour out, trusting that He will bring the increase.
Faithfulness does the work set before her each day, knowing these circumstances, today, are from the hand of her Father, who works all things for good and who also asks for obedience.
Faithfulness knows that obedience is not box-checking or test scores, but love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Sure, we do the math lesson we don’t want to tackle, but not because we are afraid of bad test scores, afraid of looking bad, afraid of a hard master who demands perfect performance. We do the math lesson because it is the work placed before us and it is good, an opportunity to stretch ourselves not only in the skill but also in patience, faithfulness, and self-control.
I loved this from Sarah:
Surely if we can love our enemies, then we can love the laundry, or Latin, or math studies. When we are diligent, even our mundane daily tasks can be offered up to God as gifts of love and sacrifice.
We don’t stop our work to focus on character. Our character is developed by our work. Faithfulness is choosing to follow through with my plan when I’m uninspired by it. Faithfulness is sitting next to the struggling student and not letting him off the hook, but extending love, peace, patience, and grace to guide him along. Faithfulness has her priorities arranged correctly, and chooses to do the right next thing, rather than the easy next thing or the convenient next thing. Faithfulness chooses the wise investment over the easily measurable task, because she’s not fearful to prove herself.
Like Sarah says:
When she doesn’t understand the day’s lesson, it isn’t a setback; it’s just God showing us our marching orders for the day.
But most importantly:
My child doesn’t need me to fret and fear; she needs me to love and guide her with grace.
Faithfulness is laying down fear, laying down control, laying down convenience and digging in with zeal to the work placed before us today.
After all, the work is ours, but the results are God’s.
When I take on the challenge of this day with both hands and trust that we are right where He wants us, that’s when I experience unshakeable peace. […] unshakeable peace is not tied to my success at all. It’s tied to faithfulness.
Amen and amen.
Let’s dig in this day, right where we are, and simply take the next step.