One thing I love about homeschooling is reading aloud books about people I have never heard of before. I have learned more as a homeschool Mom, exploring things with my kids, than I think I ever did in school.
We are studying the founding and colonization of America among other things right now and are reading a book about someone I was not familiar with- John Eliot.
He was one of the early Puritan settlers in the newly formed town of Boston and the book we are enjoying is "John Eliot: The Man Who Loved Indians" by Carleton Beals. It is one of those lovely old out-of-print treasures that is worth, like all treasure, searching out.
In this book John is having a conversation with Margaret Winthrop about heaven and while they are talking he is pulling weeds.
Margaret comments, "John, you always tell me to look up to heaven, but there you are pulling weeds."
"Heaven is found by doing what needs to be done well and with a clear conscience. If I knew I were to be called to heaven tomorrow, I would do exactly what I'm doing today." John replies.
After reading that sentence out loud I just stopped short.
How am I living? And if I knew I were to be called home tomorrow, would I change anything?
Would I pull weeds?
But what is wrong with pulling weeds? Why is that not holy and consecrated? Why would I think of it as any less worthy than writing or postulating or teaching or some other seemingly noble task? Is there actually anything more worthy about those types of things?
I actually find it is easier to have a right attitude when I am doing one of those "holy" things. I am very aware of the importance and the weightiness of the action and respond accordingly.....
...wait a minute. What makes baking a cake, or folding laundry, or listening to a young reader, or PULLING A WEED any less valuable or any less weighty?
I have been feeling very overwhelmed in the past few months with not only heavy heart matters but also with multitudes of needs, activities, and requirements. I have been, in response and possibly desperation, meditating on the verse in Matthew 6:34:
I actually wake up in the morning with the thoughts crowding in and the needed tasks pressing forward in my mind all demanding immediate attention and remonstrating me for not attending to them sooner.
I have found the above verse to be the perfect counter move to those pesky and demanding thoughts. I can simply pray,
"Okay Lord, exactly which of these things would you like for me to worry about today?"
I am then freed up from worrying about any of the others.
And many times I am surprised at what the Lord directs my heart toward. Maybe what seems so important to me is not so important to my Lord after all.
Maybe "weed pulling" is the most consecrated, kingdom-building, Christ-honoring activity there is for me to do.
But where have my misplaced priorities come from? I think one of the things that contributes to the false idea of the unimportance of the mundane is that it is these daily, thankless tasks that take so much time that they seem to compete with our time to do the "exceptional".
Which leads me to my favorite theologian and most convicting critic: Oswald Chambers:
"it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things.
Do I still have my "right" attitude, and "peaceful" countenance, and "contented" heart when I am sweeping the floor? When I am cleaning up after one of my family? When I am pulling weeds? And do I try to be exceptional in these ordinary things? Do I view them as holy?
Are they "important" enough for me to react with the realization that they are so important that God has given them to me to do today?
As John Eliot said, "Heaven is found by doing what needs to be done well and with a clear conscience. If I knew I were to be called to heaven tomorrow, I would do exactly what I'm doing today."
May it be so in my life.