by Mike McHugh
Sooner or later, most Christian home educators are tempted to walk away from their calling to provide their children with a Christ-centered education. Although the Word of God clearly directs the people of God to not be weary in well-doing, the routine burdens associated with the task of home teaching can seem overwhelming at times. Not surprisingly, it is at the precise point when we as parents are feeling weary and discouraged, that our adversary, the devil, seeks to encourage us to abandon what we know to be God’s will for our family. As the famous football coach, Vince Lombardi, once said: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
As fallen creatures, it is all too easy for us to become discouraged as we take our focus off of the Lord, and put it on our problems. We fret and worry about whether we have the resources of time, or perhaps talent, to continue for another year of home teaching. The rather humorous story that follows, written in the nineteenth century by Jane Taylor, should help to remind weary parents of the fact that they must live one day at a time while they trust God to supply what is needful.
The Discontented Pendulum
“ An old grandfather clock that had stood for fifty years in a farmer’s kitchen, without giving its owner any cause of complaint, early one summer morning, before the family was stirring, suddenly stopped. Several seconds later, the dial plate (if we may credit the fable) changed countenance with alarm, while the hands made a vain effort to continue their course. At this same moment, the gear wheels became motionless with surprise, and the weights hung speechless. Each member then felt disposed to lay the blame on the others. Finally, the dial instituted a formal inquiry as to the cause of the stagnation, while hands, wheels, and weights, with one voice protested their innocence.
It was not long before a faint tick was heard below from the pendulum, who spoke thus: “I confess myself to be the sole cause of the present stoppage; and I am willing, for the general satisfaction, to assign my reasons. The truth is, that I am tired of ticking.” Upon hearing this, the old clock became so enraged that it was upon the very point of striking.
“Lazy wire!” exclaimed the dial plate, holding up its hands.
“You are one to talk!” replied the pendulum. “It is vastly easy for you, Mistress Dial, who have always, as everybody knows, set yourself up above me ---it is vastly easy for you, I say, to accuse other members of laziness! You who have had nothing to do all your life but to stare people in the face, and to amuse yourself with watching all that goes on in the kitchen. Think, I urge you, how you would like to be shut up for life in this dark closet, and to wag backward and forward year after year, as I do.”
“As to that,” said the dial, “is there not a window placed in your house for you to look through?”
“But what of that?” resumed the pendulum. “It is still quite dark here; and although there is a window, I dare not stop even for an instant to look out. Besides, I am really tired of my way of life; and, if you wish, I’ll tell you how I became disgusted with my employment. I happened, this morning, to be calculating how many times I should have to tick in the course of only the next twenty-four hours; perhaps some one of you above there can give me the exact sum.”
The minute hand, being quick with figures, presently replied, “Eighty-six thousand four hundred times.”
“Exactly so,” replied the pendulum. “Well, I appeal to you all, if the very thought of this was not enough to fatigue anyone; and when I began to multiply the strokes of one day by those of months and years, really it was no wonder if I felt discouraged at the prospect. So, after a great deal of reasoning and hesitation, I thought to myself, I’ll stop.”
The dial could scarcely keep its composure during this mutiny. In the interest of unity, however, it then replied: “Dear Mr. Pendulum, I am really astonished that such a useful, industrious person as yourself should have been seized by this sudden weariness. It is true, you have done a great deal of work in your time. The fact remains, however, that we have all done our share of work in the past, and are likely to again. Although it may fatigue us to think about our daily routine, the question is whether it will harm us to continue working. Would you now do me the favor to give about half a dozen strokes to illustrate my argument?”
The pendulum complied, and ticked six times at its usual pace.
“Now,” resumed the dial, “may I be allowed to inquire if that exertion is at all fatiguing or disagreeable to you?”
“Not in the least,” replied the pendulum; “it is not of six strokes that I complain, nor of sixty, but of millions.”
“Very good,” replied the dial; “but recollect that, although you may think of a million strokes in an instant, you are required to execute but one; and that, however often you may hereafter have to swing, a moment will always be given you to swing in.”
“That consideration staggers me, I confess,” said the pendulum.
“Then I hope,” resumed the dial plate, “that we shall all return to our duty immediately; for the maids will lie in bed if we continue to stand idle.”
At this point, the weights, who had never been accused of light conduct, used all their influence in urging him to proceed; when, as if with one consent, the wheels began to turn, and the hands began to move. It was not long before the pendulum began to swing once again, and to its credit, ticked as loud as ever.
As the red beam of the rising sun began to stream through the kitchen, it shined full upon the dial plate, brightening up its countenance as ifnothing had been the matter. When the farmer came down to breakfast that morning, upon looking at the clock he declared that his watch had gained half an hour during the night.”
Perhaps our weariness as parent educators would be lessened, if we could simply remember that our times are in God’s hands, and that there is a time and a purpose for everything that is done under the sun. The walk of faith demands that we ask God each and every day for the strength to keep ourselves in His will. Quite often, we lack what we need to persevere in the calling of home education, because we neglect to ask the Lord for the grace and power to overcome the obstacles that are in our way. We have not, because we ask not.
Before you walk away from your commitment to give your children a Christ-centered education at home, why don’t you seek the face of Him who declared: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”? (Matthew 11:28)
Copyright 2007 Michael J. McHugh
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