By Michelle Miller, TruthQuest History
We loooooong for our children to “get it,” to understand—even when it doesn’t feel like it—that God’s ways are in their best interest in the long run. (But this piece is not about children.)
And we know that kids learn this first with us, their parents. Childish, externally-motivated obedience can ripen into mature, and even cheerful, internally-motivated obedience when the kids trust that our training is driven by our concern for their long-term benefit, even if contrary to their momentary will. That trust allows them to believe in, enjoy, and return the love we have for them. (But this piece is not about parenting.)
That really is quite a connection, though! Until we trust that God is good, and is good to us, we cannot fully experience love for Him. So, when we love, we have trusted. And when we trust, we can obey….even when counter-intuitive. No wonder He says that if we love Him, we will obey Him! (But this piece is not about…, well…..what is it about?)
The point is this crucial understanding that we must know and trust God to believe His ways are best. It is not, though, just our children who need this truth, but our nations also! We know how to persistently instill the parenting lesson, but how, exactly, do we teach this great truth about nations on a daily basis?
This great keystone—of God’s love-worthy character and trustworthy law throughout the ages—was taught to previous American generations every day in school, especially in history class, so that the nation could trust Him…and thus love and obey Him. We still have that great teaching mandate, but to break into that more compelling and fulfilling plane we must explore history in a different way than most of us experienced in our own childhood history classes!
What were we told as young people? That—ta da!—history is the “story of mankind!” It was supposedly the “great pageant of human accomplishment.” The only problem is that much of human history has been the gut-wrenching tale of tyranny, abuse, poverty, and suffering. No wonder few enjoyed history class! No wonder the usual response was disinterest, as deeper probing could yield despair, apathy, and cynicism!
This is because the emphasis was on human leadership. On the rise and fall of the human tide and the varieties of human culture. On human “heroes” with feet of meanest clay.
The true story of history—and therefore the needed focus of our history studies—is what God was doing, teaching, and revealing about Himself to each generation! This is a much higher goal than merely memorizing the details of a civilization’s best-known figures, or “tasting the times” through interesting literature and activities.
Yes, when we focus on His nature and His truths being shared with the world throughout the ages, and we then see how each nation chose to respond, we have the opportunity to parade before our children—in convincing Technicolor—the undeniable reality of our God and the unfaltering reliability of His principles!
Our kids will see that every single time a nation embraced God’s principles there was increasing liberty, security, and opportunity!
And every time a nation instead deemed its own wisdom and will as superior, there was always pain and loss in the end. They enslaved, and then were enslaved. Always!
This is important! This is the message that has not been taught to Americans for a couple generations now…and you see the result! If modern Americans really understood (and were willing to accept), that everything they long for—even as a nation—is found in Him, they would not be hurrying to expel Him. But is the richness and benefit of His truths for the nations the subject of the modern history class? No, it is about human dates and deeds, and most of those are maligned if they can be traced back to any Judeo-Christian roots.
But we must be sure that our history classes are not just about human dates and deeds, or we also will miss the Great Point!
Yes, the world has been taught that it is better off without a Creator, so that it can rule itself as the “culmination” of evolution. But what does history prove? That if a culture disallows God as Creator, there is no comforting Caregiver, no Lawgiver to forge a working society, no Lifegiver to endow humans with intrinsic worth. Cannot the world see that every culture which rejected God as Creator of human life did, in the end, dehumanize its population?! Cannot the world see, on the other hand, that every culture which embraced God as Creator, took steps to protect the value of life through limited government (rule of law) and economic opportunity (as with free enterprise)?!
It was even the Bible-loving cultures who made crucial breakthroughs in science and invention because they understood that the world was created by an intelligent, dependable, and communicative God. There were, then, intelligible, dependable, and knowable laws of nature to build upon! Every day, we modern Americans benefit from the scientific/technological breakthroughs made by these past biblically-leaning nations, but we have instead been told that the Christian religion is the enemy of science! Not so!
The same is true with art and architecture, but we haven’t time here. But we do have time to explore it with our kids! We can teach all these great lessons as we work through history (and all its related spheres—such as science and art discussed above—which flow from the deepest spiritual roots of civilization), as long as we set our face like flint to do so, and resist the urge to duplicate the superficial, human-oriented “fact” emphasis we knew as history students in school!
Yes, you can launch an odyssey of true meaning that will engage your students impactfully, as they finally connect what they see in the Bible with the real history of this world…past, present, and future! Thank the Lord for giving us “history class” as a mighty tool for convincing our children of the greatness and worthiness of God as King, Lawgiver, and Judge!
Michelle Miller is the author of TruthQuest History, a deeply-spiritual, literature-based guide to history through the ages, one of Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 Curriculum Picks, and both a Practical Homeschooling and TEACH honoree. She is also a columnist for Homeschooling Today magazine, a homeschool/education speaker (most recently on Moody Radio’s PrimeTime America), and she runs a children’s out-of-print library of over 20,000 volumes. She and her husband reside with their younger two children in northern Michigan; the older two are now successful adults…and the source of four very cute grandsons! www.TruthQuestHistory.com