08 November 2011

Eyes Toward Home

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her-Ephesians 5:25

Over the past several weeks, I have been thinking about starting another master's degree program. I have been enamored with the Master of Arts in Science and Religion program at Biola University. Admittedly, I already have several degrees. I am also currently completing master's level work toward a certificate in biblical counseling. All this is to say that the challenges of academia are a siren song to me. I enjoy pushing myself to learn, though a darker part of me also must admit to the draw of the recognition that comes with the degree. I prefer not to acknowledge that part, but it is there. My wife has been faithfully at my side every step of the way.

When I asked my wife a few days ago to begin praying about this possibility, her response lacked enthusiasm. She sounded tired, as if she wanted to say, "not again." Thankfully, we had the opportunity to talk about it last night. It turns out that while I am peering off into the distance seeking to conquer the next big thing, she plods along at home, managing the household and educating our children. She often feels alone in this task and I suppose that in many ways, she is.

As I laid in bed last night thinking about what she said, I realized that my gaze is too often on the horizon. I think about the possibilities "out there", but my calling is to home. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 calls fathers to their homes: "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." God's word is to be consistently before my family and in our home and I am to take the lead in teaching them about Him. I cannot lead well when my focus is often directed elsewhere.

So, for now, Biola will be moved to the back burner. If I profess to love my wife and my children and if I claim to trust God's word for my life, I need to do a better job of turning my eyes toward home. My family does not care if I earn another master's degree, they want papa at home and engaged.

Now, a brief note to the men (of which I hope I am still included): there are so many things that mess with our priorities and we are great at justifying them. We cover our hobbies, jobs, and other activities with a false veneer of righteousness. We tell ourselves that working every evening, burying our noses in a book, or spending time away from home with other believers is ministry. Sometimes it is, but I would argue that often it is not. If we are not defending our homes, if we are not actively and consistently pouring ourselves into our kids, we are missing the mark. God calls us to "give ourselves up" for our wives.  That means spending time at home and getting to know our wives and kids and what is going on in their lives. I know more about current apologetics arguments than I do about what my kids are doing in math.  Other men know football stats, or deer movement patterns, or stock market fluctuations better than they know about their children's friendships.  Men, our primary ministry is to our families. Other activities are not inherently bad, but we must ask ourselves "where are we planting our flags? Where are we directing our gaze?" I have a good friend who is fond of saying, "men, we are in a fight." Let's make sure we know what we are fighting for. 

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