By Michele Nigro, Colorado Baptists, Executive Board Member
“Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing,” (Oswald Chambers, March 5). Sometimes you find the height of your purpose in the midst of the divine appointments to which you are most reluctant to surrender. Those God-directed options we see as the least attractive short-term often prove to be the most fulfilling endeavors long-term. I have certainly discovered this to be true, and it’s become a guiding principle in my own walk with God.
I spent 20 years as a public elementary school teacher. I loved my job, and like the majority of my colleagues, was vehemently opposed to home education. Shortly after the birth of our third child, my husband asked if we should consider home school for our oldest. I replied, somewhat indignantly, that I would never homeschool as it would ruin our three “perfect” children! Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t hear an audible laugh from my Heavenly Father at that precise moment.
Flash forward three years. Circumstances at my school, also the same school attended by our oldest, pushed me to investigate alternatives for her education. As I interviewed, researched and prayed, I felt the Holy Spirit compel me to move the homeschool option to the top of my considerations. It was springtime, and I generously gave God until August 1 to “change His mind”. Over that summer I cried, pleaded, and prayer-walked my way into a serious hip injury. Like Jacob in Genesis 32, I walked away from that season physically limping, emotionally resigned to misery, and spiritually surrendering to the sure and clear call of God on my life. On August 2, I resigned my teaching position and purchased homeschool curriculum.
Several months later my children and I were starting our school day. While my three cherubs ate breakfast, I sorted laundry. I distinctly remember my attire: a fuzzy pink bathrobe and furry slippers; I had become the stereotype of my worst nightmare. I separated piles as I grumbled (see Phil. 2:14). My complaining reached an unexpectedly audible level when I announced, “I have a degree in education and 20 years teaching experience, and I’m standing here in a bathrobe surrounded by tons of dirty clothes while homeschooling three children!” Then from the little voice of my oldest came these words, “But Mommy, you are at the height of your glory right now, teaching and taking care of us!” Oh, how I’d like to say that I fell on my knees in repentance and Godly sorrow at that moment; unfortunately, confession would come much later. It took several months to realize that God was instructing me through the lips of an infant.
By God’s grace I educated all three children through 12th grade. One has her college degree, one will receive his bachelor’s degree and continue on to seminary, and that third babe is about to finish her freshman year of college. Homeschool proved to be one of the best gifts God gave our family.
However, this isn’t really an article about home education. Instead, it’s a confession that “the height of our glory” is uncovered in those unexpected places. It’s in the call on our life that we wrestle with the most, those circumstances we are certain will bring mostly misery and hardship. Our God is amazing like that. He alone brings fulfillment and, dare I say it, JOY in the least desirable options. Not just the joy of obedience, though that certainly applies, but sweet happiness that you never get over. Don’t underestimate fuzzy pink bathrobes; these days I wouldn’t trade them for all the robes in Queen Elizabeth’s closet, because in God’s economy they’re worth more than silver or gold. Oswald Chambers said it best: “When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it,”(February 19). And, indeed He does!