"Sin has consequences that forgiveness cannot change."
I just read this in my TGIF daily devotional by Os Hilman. He had relayed the story of David in scripture, and the seemingly small poor choices he made that ended up exploding all over his life. David didn't feel like leading the army into battle, so he stayed home. He had great generals, after all, and David was ageing a bit. Why not take a break from his responsibilities...just once. What happened next? David had too much time on his hands, the temptation of the beautiful Bathsheba was too much, David arranges for her husband to be killed in battle and then marries the newly widowed Bathsheba. The story gets worse - read it in 2 Samuel 11 & 12 - but David repents and God forgives him.
David has always intrigued me. Described by God himself as a man after His own heart, David made more mistakes than Carter had liver pills. He had a truly repentant heart, though, and God forgive him every time. The forgiveness came. The consequences came, too.
My kids have and do make poor choices at times. Sin happens, then they come to me with crocodile tears and repentant faces (and hopefully repentant hearts, too), asking for forgiveness. We readily give that...usually along with some natural consequences of their sin. That always shocks them. They don't understand why they have to endure the consequences if they have "truly, really, for sure" been forgiven. It's tough to explain that forgiveness is complete, but some choices, sin, is beyond our ability to erase the effects. Are we really any different as adults? Don't we think, in the dark recesses of our minds, that if God REALLY loves us and forgives us and erases the slate like the Bible says, we should not have to be unemployed, or divorcing, or experiencing loss....fill in the blank.
Think about this, though: if our kids didn't get time out when they hit someone, would they learn not to hit? Some maybe, but probably not most. The natural consequences are both the outcome of sin and the tool to help prevent sin. Sometimes those consequences are the way we learn to lean into God, to draw on his power, love and mercy. Sometimes the consequences help us to recognize and accept forgiveness all the more.
The "big kids" are all in class, so now we turn our attention to the wee ones: our Early Childhood students. Every year our preschool parents make me chuckle. I think they worry too much. I also understand why.
My three boys are getting up there - one a newlywed, one about to graduate from college and one about to enter high school. Been there and done that….and coming out on the other side. It seems decisions for our kids when they are little take on a life of their own and we can be overwhelmed by the sheer responsibility of parenting...especially Christian parenting. God is pretty clear in scripture about that privilege and His expectations of us. What if we make a mistake, like a really big one? Maybe our child will not be ready for school, or maybe too ready and get bored? Maybe too young, or too old? Will they make friends...stop crying...be potty trained in time? What if I start them in the wrong school, and they hate learning, and they end up in prison someday as a result because...because...because...
My chuckling comes because I see myself in every one of our preschool parent’s faces. I wish I could put back into my "time bank" all the hours I spent worrying about things that seemed monumental at the time but ended up being so inconsequential. Thing is, you just don't know when you are a young parent, with maybe 2-3 children under the age of 5. When they look up at you with those huge eyes, adult reason can go to the wind and their world becomes, possibly consumes your world. Totally.
So, what would I tell our parents in my “sage” wisdom about preschool? Love God. Trust God. Give your children to God. Pray to God for them daily; for their teachers, coaches, future spouse, future in all things. Then…love your child. Make sure they know that you love them, every second of every day. The seconds and days go way too fast. Everything else generally becomes a minor inconvenience, a blip on the parenting map. We aren’t called to be perfect parents. We are called to be Godly parents. The difference is that Christ bridges the gap, if we invite Him to do so.
I never cease to be amazed at the way God moves among his people and situations. One year ago, we had around 535 smiling faces streaming through our doors. Enrollment was down a little in preschool, but up in the secondary grades. We had such an awesome year of growth and development for our students and for the Academy as a whole. So many new staff members, new students and families blended with returning folks to create such a wonderful community of believers. When you are sitting in the middle of blessing, you sometimes wonder how much more can (or will) God do?
Today is the fourth day of classes for our K -8 grades. Our preschool classes start next week. Both divisions are blessed with more students this year. We have 600 students enrolled this year! The area that God has really blessed, though, has been our high school. Enrollment is up 80%, we have 4 smiling new international students representing Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Jamaica, and we have six new high school classrooms – a space to call their own!
It’s tough to start a new high school, regardless of how well it is done. A small school is a unique experience, and there are trade-offs. No big Friday night football games, fewer elective options, the dating pool is smaller. But the flip side…really close relationships with peers and teachers, much more flexibility in class options, not easy to hide, less drama. There is little choice - you have to meet the higher standards. There is a fear factor with families to overcome – are the academics strong enough, can my child go from a small environment to a huge college, is there any social activity. Pioneers are in our high school, though some don’t look at it that way.
I love our high school. College prep academics with AP and Dual-Credit courses; Biblical immersion with scriptural instruction; Droid tablets aiding technology preparation; accelerated Spanish with international travel for cultural experience. TPCA is unique. My son will move up to 9th grade next year at TPCA. My older boys went to other schools before TPCA offered high school. I know area options. I would never choose anything else for my youngest. Here is where he will best be loved by his teachers, held accountable by his peers and where his school will best partner with me to raise him to be the man of God that he was created to become. I pray that his peers and families in grades below will see the same.