I began to feel my age this year. My wife and I have homeschooled our two children from the beginning and this year, my eldest, my son, graduated from high school. Over the years we have had many objections raised over our decision to homeschool. One of the more prominent arguments is that it is not healthy to shelter your children. I beg to differ. In fact, I would argue that we could all use a little more sheltering.
If you define “sheltering” as a parent’s attempt to isolate their children from the realities of the world we live in then yes, that is neither healthy nor helpful. That is not, however, what we mean by sheltering. Think about this: you seek shelter from the rain because too much can be harmful. You seek shelter from the sun because without the cool of shade you could die. You seek shelter from the storm, from an attack, and during an earthquake. In none of these cases are you denying the presence of these potentially harmful events, but you are limiting your exposure to a manageable amount. We need to do the same for our children and for ourselves.
We have become a desensitized society. Things that ought to leave us bewildered and appalled hardly phase us. We have exposed ourselves to profanity, pornography, immorality, murder and death to such a wide scale that we now view these things as entertainment. Movies aren’t worth watching and video games aren’t worth playing unless they have violence, nudity, and foul language. We say it makes it “real,” but when did these things become acceptable? When did we invite such things into our reality?
To shelter our children is to allow them to be aware of what has become “real” without exposing them to more than they are ready to handle. To shelter ourselves is to limit our own exposure to those things which only serve to poison our worldview and our view of others. God has called us to personal holiness, yet we eagerly make one compromise after another in the spirit of being “real.” News flash: It only becomes reality if you make it a part of your life.
It may still exist in the world, but we are not of the world – partakers of the world’s system and values. We are not animals who only operate out of instinct. We are created in the image of God and self-control is a God-given trait. The Bible puts it this way: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). In other words, be very careful about what, or whom, you grant access to your heart, because you live from your heart and it will affect who you become.
God is our shelter and our refuge. We rush headlong into the storm, march about in the scorching sun, and stand tall in the midst of the attack and then wonder why life beats us up so much. When the world gets to be too much and you feel like you’re drowning, spinning out of control, or feel just plain lost and distant, you need to run to Jesus. He has called you to holiness and when, in all your ways, you acknowledge him, God will direct your path; he will shelter and protect you.
His Word is not merely a suggestion or a good idea. As followers of Jesus we must obey his Word. We are to reject the self-serving desires of the world and embrace those attitudes, actions, and values that draw us – and others through us – closer to him. We are supposed to be markedly different from the world around us. A good education does not come from being over-familiar with what is wrong. It comes from the pursuit of what is true and good and right.
One last thing: we need to remember that we are under grace. Grace is not a license to sin nor to compromise; it is not a concession to underachieve or mail it in. Grace raises the bar. Under law you could not murder someone; under grace harboring anger against someone is the same as murder. Grace is about motive and attitude of heart. Grace is meant to motivate you to give your absolute all. In allowing yourself to be saturated with all manner of worldliness, can you even hope to draw near to Christ? Surrender, and seek shelter.
Michael Hayward is a graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California and has been serving Faith Community Church of Rohnert Park, California as lead pastor since 2005.His passion is to see people grow in their love for God and their love for others by building healthy relationships through which God is experienced, glorified, and revealed to a needy world.
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