Lessons from Noah
“And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation . . . And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him.” Genesis 7:1, 5
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7
“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” 1 Peter 3:20
What can we learn about home schooling from Noah? While riding in the car one day, we heard over the radio a teaching from Hebrews 11, and in it, a statement I have never before considered: When Noah obeyed God, by faith, he condemned the world (Hebrews 11:7).
When we returned home, I looked up the word “condemned” in a dictionary. I found everything from a fine, to a judgment, to damnation. Our word for condemning is serious business. I decided I should check the concordance. I found the word used in Hebrews is katakrino, a word also used to describe Judas, just before he tried to return the money he gained by betraying Jesus. This word does not convey a very hopeful idea.
Do you think Noah meant to condemn the world? I do not. The Word says he believed God and acted accordingly. His was obedience born of faith, a most blessed choice. God looked for someone who was righteous, whom He could call out of all the judgment that was about to come. He found Noah, a man who was exhorting, or trying to exhort, the people around him to get right with God, to walk justly. Noah believed God, obeyed Him, waited for Him, and remained attentive to Him. The results were that he and his family escaped from the disaster that was about to fall and no one else did.
Just for a moment, let us take our eyes off Noah and look at the home schooling experience. How was it for you? Did you try to make a change in the world, as Noah did when he was preaching righteousness? I surely did. I had gone to the school officials several times and explained what was “going on” and how things needed to change. I was about as successful as Noah was, too.
Did you hear God seeming to speak to you about home schooling? What was the motivating argument He used with you? For me it was guns and fighting in the schools (over 20 years ago, in a little country school). You could say we “moved with fear” as Noah did. I am sorry that I cannot say that in those days we saw Scriptural or Constitutional reasons for it; we were only trying to survive with our children intact. God blessed us, anyway.
Did you do everything the Lord commanded you? I do not know about us - those were such crazy days, with such a house full of students, I barely knew what I was doing, let alone what I should be doing. I had a rough outline, as Noah did for the Ark, but where to begin, and how, were largely unknown to me, until each day was over and I could look back. I think the Lord sometimes takes us through times when the only choice is simply, as Elizabeth Elliot said, to “Do the next thing.” I sometimes think it must have been that way for Noah, too. Now and then he could step back and look at an Ark forming before his eyes and realize it was good, but he could not really say how it happened or what exactly was next. Sometimes that is how it has to be.
God was patient with us, though, just as He was longsuffering with Noah (1 Peter 3:20). Sometimes we are slow, in our estimation, to get the idea, gather the tools, or execute the plan. God has eternity, though, and loves to give time to us. His patience was sometimes the energizer for me - I would realize how long we had been working at His will and begin to think of how many good things ought to be done by now. I guess you could say that His patient waiting would make me impatient to do better.
So we saw the evil around us, “heard” God speaking about a better way, jumped in and began to build according to His will. We continued waiting upon His will, making adjustments when necessary, and really entered into the home school experience with full harmony. I was so busy trying to hear God, build a home school experience, corral my children into it, keep them supplied, and all the other things that home schooling requires, that I was not at all prepared for what followed.
People began to feel condemned by my actions.
I was so puzzled. Making people feel bad was the least of my intentions. I was merely trying to survive. I could not believe some of the hotly spoken comments that my actions elicited. In fact, I was so naïve about what I was doing, and its effect upon my friends, family, and neighbors, that at first I had thought everyone would follow my good lead and begin home schooling their children, too. Silly me! Of course I soon gave up that idea, but for the longest time (for the last 20 years) I have never been able to figure out why people always seem to take my quiet, private actions so very personally and painfully.
That is, until that day riding home in the car. Now I think I see why the world feels condemned when it learns that we home school. I think we can say that it is because we are condemning the world - just as Noah was condemning the world when he built the Ark. I just never knew it, before.
I have tried hard to home school without being offensive. Now I can see that for some people, that is impossible. They will feel condemned by what I do simply because it is a condemning action to home school. This is such a liberating thought. From now on, there will be no more apologies, not for home schooling my own children, quietly, and successfully. I feel so free. I am not the problem. I am not trying to condemn, just trying to obey God. Condemnation does come through my actions, but I cannot help it. It is not my goal, at all.
Of course, I am not now going to begin trying to be as offensive as I possibly can, thinking that there is no hope for politeness. That would be rude, indeed. Of course we still will be patient, as God is patient. We still will try to convince, since we still might actually show someone the way. We still will quietly succeed and not brag or exult over others, since pride goes before a fall. If we actually do wrong, then we will apologize. We will drop the fear of condemning, however. People will feel condemned; we need to get used to it. They will fear us; we cannot help it. If we are following God, they will treat us as they treated Jesus. It actually is a good thing.
Something else is happening to us, as it happened to Noah: A few are being saved from the destruction all around us. Our children are in our “ark”. What will ultimately become of them we cannot be positive, but we can truthfully say that we have done what we could do to give them the best survival possibilities. We have done, or are doing, what God has told us to do, and it is good.
In fact, home schooled children’s survival possibilities are so good that home educators have acquired a reputation for sending out the elite. Colleges want us. The work force wants us. Government wants us. Home school is becoming the definition of excellence. The dividends of our hard work are very good. We have become heirs of the uprightness that only comes from faith.
And we are not apologizing.
Katharine Trauger has homeschooled her six children for over twenty years. She and her husband, Gerald, live in Arkansas, and enjoy gardening, reading, and Bible study.