02 Oct Immigrating Home
“…she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.” Ruth 1:7
I am an immigrant in the foreign land of home education
As I donned my running shoes and secured my earbuds for morning exercise, the voice of Tim Keller’s podcast told the story of “An Immigrant’s Courage.” Based on the passages from the Book of Ruth, this message pricked my heart and reminded me that I have committed to a calling much like that of an immigrant. I am not a certified teacher. My background is not in education but in Occupational Therapy. I am moving into a new land and seeking out a radically different outcome.
Seeking New Soil
Tim Keller’s story of his wife’s immigrant great-grandfather seeped into my thoughts. This gentleman left his pregnant wife and all that he knew in Croatia. He chose to travel to a new country to seek out a better life for his family. He worked for eight years in the mines in western Pennsylvania. Once he was able to save money and secure a home, he sent a letter to his family alerting them that it was time to come to America. Then, this gentleman faithfully traveled to the railway station every day for three months in anticipation of their arrival. The travel time was unpredictable. He devoted himself to be ready whenever they might arrive.
Every. Day. He. Waited.
As my feet hit the ground, I’m reminded that my heart waits too, with anticipation for the outcome of our children. We’re all waiting for someone to “arrive” and receive the anticipated reward of diligence and faithful devotion. The “travel time” of each of our children is unpredictable. Some move confidently through the various courses of study and daily heart challenges to “arrive” at a level of understanding quickly. Some struggle and need extra help along the way. Immigrating to a new land requires unwavering determination and faith. To immigrate means to come in to a new place to live and the word is used from the perspective of the destination. It’s a visionary term. Have you entered into this adventure with the perspective of the outcome? Much like the immigrant great-grandfather who settled in a new land, we chose to set out on the journey of “home education” after much prayer and preparation. Through the years, we labor and invest in their hearts and minds. Then, we wait with anticipation. Every day we hitch our wagon and travel to the railway station of home education to await their “arrival” to some new adventure or concept that will broaden their horizon and strengthen their heart. There are many days when we simply return home to continue waiting.
More than anything, the devotion of this immigrant family stands out in the story. What about the pregnant wife who bravely waited and willingly traveled to a new home after so many years? What about the father who risked losing everything to give his family more? What about the child who traveled so very far and left all he knew as familiar in his birthplace? How does their devotion compare to our own?
Our view of the calling placed on our lives will determine our end game.
Are we fully devoted and willing to wait and trust that our obedience is more important than our comfort? These are the hard questions that I’m asking my own heart today. After 23 years of home education, our last student is near graduation. As we wait for the next chapter in the life of our family, we are reminded to trust the Redeemer who calls us to obedience.
In the book, Through the Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliott tells the story of the five young men and their wives who traveled into the jungles of Ecuador to minister to the fierce and violent Acua people. These brave men and women accepted the call to become missionaries in a foreign land knowing that “God and His work held first place in each life. It was the condition of true discipleship…” (pg. 170)
As home educators, it is our mission to place God and His work in first place. True discipleship happens when we live out our calling and share our life with the ones who are constantly watching. Our home is our first mission field.
When the immigrant family stepped onto the platform of the railway station in western Pennsylvania, they were only beginning their new adventure. This was not their finish line. How could they have known that one of their great-granddaughters would marry a minister who would impact the world for Christ?
When our children step up on the platform to receive their diploma, a new adventure begins. We are in the waiting. We are immigrants “working in the mines.” May they find us faithful.