God is always at work — even when we can’t see any evidence of it. It is only when we take the time to look back can we understand what He was doing and what His will for our lives is. This has been my experience as I look back over the past 50+ years of teaching. As I shared in yesterday’s blog, I never imagined that I would be a teacher. But God…..
The fall of 1973 was a very exciting time for our family. We had just moved to Lynchburg, VA and I began teaching science and coaching basketball at Lynchburg Christian Academy. Dr. Jerry Falwell started LCA in 1967 and had just launched what is now Liberty University in 1971. There was excitement in the air as I began my journey into Christian education. But then, a question I was asked caused me to stop in my tracks and I began wondering once again what is education really all about?
During the first week of school, there was an open house. On that night parents actually followed an abbreviated schedule of their child’s classes. The first group of parents entered my classroom and sat in the students’ desks. I started my time with the parents by sharing with them what God had done in my life while teaching in the public school. I explained how several of my students had come to faith in Christ. It was at that point that one parent asked me a question I couldn’t answer. He asked,
If God was using you in such an amazing way in that school, why did you leave to come here and teach?
I had never given that any thought. Why was I here rather than back at my former school? My answer was somewhat shallow as I explained that I wanted to teach where I could teach truth and could share my faith with my students openly. In fact, it was exciting to have my principal tell us that we were expected to do just that. However, I really didn’t know the difference between the public school I left and the Christian school I was at.
I could not get that parent’s question out of my mind for quite some time. As I reflect back on my journey in education, I realize that it was at that point in time that I started wrestling with trying to understand education from a biblical perspective. I went to conferences and seminars where several giants in the Christian school movement spoke on what Christian education was all about. Men such as Dr. Francis Shaeffer, Dr. Roy Lowrie, Dr. Paul Kienel, Dr. Tony Fortosis, Dr. Ron Chadwick, Bud Schindler and Gene Garrick were used by God to begin formulating a biblical philosophy of education in my heart and mind. I read as many books as I could find on this subject. To name just a few of the books that started shaping my ideas of what God’s design for education is included How Shall We Live, The Pattern of God’s Truth, Which Way to Educate, Educating for Eternity, Reclaiming the Future of Christian Education, and The Christian Mind.
Later on, I was challenged by Drs. James Dobson and Gary Bauer when I read their book, Children At Risk. My whole idea of education was rocked when I read Thomas Sowell’s book, Inside American Education and The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. I found myself pouring over the Scripture and asking God to let me understand what His design for education was. I didn’t want to go through the motions of simply filling my students’ minds with facts and figures in order for them to pass a test and get into a good college. Of course, I had the freedom to add some Bible verses and little sermonettes to my lessons and there were chapels, Bible classes and spiritual emphasis weeks that all students participated in. Prayer before practices and games were commonplace and expected. However, there had to be more to this than what the typical Christian school was doing.
After my first year at LCA, I was asked to be the Secondary School Principal. This led me to begin graduate courses at nearby University of Virginia. Surely now I would learn what real education was all about. Little did I know that God was moving in my life in a way that still boggles my mind. I was very fortunate that all of my professors in both my Masters and Doctoral courses allowed me to address everything from a biblical perspective. Of course, they didn’t agree with me on just about everything I wrote or presented but they tolerated my positions on a wide variety of topics. What was taking place behind the scenes was that I was beginning to formulate a biblical philosophy of education in my heart and mind.
As I continued trying to understand God’s perspective on education, I dug deeper in Scripture and continued reading everything I could get my hands on about the subject. It was during those early years in Christian education that I realized that education could not be equated merely to schooling. I began understanding that biblically based education was a multi-faceted process that took place at home, in the church and in the school. Even though I was searching for meaning, I still didn’t see how God was shaping my heart and mind about this very important aspect of life — the education of children and youth.
What God did next in my life was amazing to say the least. Yet, it still challenged me about everything I thought education was all about. But you will have to come back tomorrow for what the late Paul Harvey would say —The Rest of the Story!