I shall be telling this with a sigh. . .
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by. . .
And it didn’t make the difference I had hoped for.
Over a decade ago, I made the life-changing decision to teach my child at home. Our guest room became a school room, our office turned into a library, and the big wide world was our field trip destination. I pored over homeschool catalogs, accumulating materials that honored God in all subjects. Lovely hours were spent reading rich literature, full of timeless stories of faith and courage. There was plenty of time to draw pictures, watch birds, and capture bugs.
She memorized Scripture verses in AWANA club and learned the books of the Bible, days of creation, and the Ten Commandments by heart. They were beautiful days that passed into gratifying years; and together, we reveled in the joy of learning about our Creator and his creation. Like the woman of Proverbs, I smiled at the future.
A Heart Revealed
Fast-forward to my daughter’s first year at the university. She came home one day and told me she had watched a film in biology class that showed a whale with legs. I laughed. She didn’t. Instead, she said these impossible words, “Mom, I don’t believe the Bible is true anymore. I’m not a Christian.”
As she spoke these words, there was a dresser in her old bedroom upstairs covered with trophies. Her competitive speeches on creationism, human value, and the defense of the Christian faith had won bronze, silver, and gold medals for five years. This wasn’t a grown child who lacked biblical knowledge or apologetic training. This was a young woman’s heart revealed, a heart “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV), and it was just like my own heart had been before I had truly repented and trusted in Christ.
My daughter had never been reborn. My confidence had been misplaced. Months passed before I could fully accept that one of mine was not one of his — at least not yet. Crushing self-condemnation followed. I spent over ten years investing in her soul daily, and what was there to show for those efforts? I looked around at all the homeschooling families we knew, and they appeared to be models of godly excellence, graduating faithful and fruitful young adults year after year. None of their children departed to a far country.
Despair hung heavy, as I seemed to have failed in the most monumental task of my life: the discipleship of my child.
Salvation, or Your Money Back
Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland says we should try to have as many true beliefs as we can and reject as many false beliefs as we can. In the months following our daughter’s announcement, I realized that I had held a false belief. I had believed teaching her at home would save her.
Now, if you would’ve asked me this directly, I would’ve denied it. I knew in my head every individual had to repent, believe, and put their trust in Christ personally to be saved. Nonetheless, an idea had taken root, sprouted, and grown over the years, and it was this: By giving my child a distinctively Christian education, I was ensuring she would turn out Christian. It had been like a private insurance policy I had taken out with God. I thought he had agreed to my terms.
In retrospect, the idea was not entirely my own. As I recall, the notion was, and still is, fairly pervasive in homeschooling catalogs and conferences. Calls are issued forth to “raise up the next generation of Christian leaders” and “produce bold educated servants of Christ.” It was, in its simplest form, a cookie-cutter model saying, “Put them through this, and they will turn out like that.”
The curriculum wasn’t sold with a “salvation, or your money back” guarantee, but to use the words of Austen’s perceptive character, Marianne Dashwood, “It was every day implied but never professedly declared.” Were homeschool resources to blame? No. My pride was the seed. Personal sacrifice had led to an unwarranted sense of entitlement. My child would be a Christian because I had given up so much. I had sacrificed career and income; her faithfulness should be my reward. These were false beliefs.
Homeschool Can’t Save
The truth is that only Christ can move upon human hearts inclined toward sin and do a work of regeneration. It will be Christ that moves upon the heart of a child if they are educated at home, and it will be Christ that moves upon the heart if they are not. Christ is the hero of Christian homeschool, not us parents.
No amount of Latin lessons, Bible memory songs, or classical literature can do saving work. To the family just beginning the journey of home education, may God bless you as you educate your children for the glory of God. Only please remember, it is no guarantee. Our homeschooled children may leave our homes serving Christ, or they may not, but our exceedingly great reward is Christ.
Aggressive prayer for my prodigal includes that she would be shown the logical outworkings of her atheistic worldview. Last semester she sat under a Malthusian biology professor who advocated for the intentional de-population of the world through airborne viruses. He legitimized sexual assault by excusing male predation as evolutionary instinct. She has since shifted from a hard atheism to agnosticism. She’s had a whiff of the pigsty.
I pray the Lord himself will meet my daughter in the woods of her rebellion and use whatever means he chooses to save her soul. Jesus said, “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14). The way of salvation is truly the road less traveled, and his saving grace alone makes the eternal difference.