A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I went on a great field trip organized by our homeschool group. We spent 5 hours in the woods along the Eno River with guides from Schoolhouse of Wonder. The first part of the day was devoted to the study of the Native Americans and their ways of living. The second part centered on the ways of the colonists and how they differed from the Indian's lifestyle. Our guide was wonderful and there were lots of hands-on activities.
touching a real deer hide
throwing a spear
seeing how a small animal trap worked
Making fire the Native American Way
and the colonist's way
"churning" cream into butter
While each child shook the jar the group chanted, "Elijah (or whoever had the jar) stands at the gate, waiting for his butter cake. Churn butter, churn!"
Then the tasting!!
The camp is located by an old grist mill, the kids got to see how the water powered the wheel to turn the millstone to make the meal. They had a millstone for everyone to see.
We ended our day with an old fashioned "story telling"
The kids learned a lot and enjoyed every minute of our time at Schoolhouse of Wonder.
The teacher learned a lot too. Not necessarily about Native American and Colonists, but about how to better please God by loving children more perfectly. My mind kept going back to the site of the millstone.
For several days, I pondered the scripture:
"If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
I realized that it is given a couple of other times-
"If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."
"It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble."
To me, that means it must have been a big deal to Jesus!
As I looked at my picture of the millstone-
The image is so clear in my mind. No one could possibly survive with that big boy tied around their neck. (I know he was talking metaphorically. God's not going to cause a millstone to fall from the sky and attach itself to someone's neck) The point He wanted to make is that children are a big deal to our Lord, and therefore, their well being should be a big deal to us. I started to question what does He mean by stumble? Some other translations say, "to sin, cause downfall, fall, offend". What do those look like regarding my interactions with children, namely my own children?
Neglect-no problem there.
Abuse-no problem there.
Not loving-no problem there.
So, I must be good to go, right? Nope, the Holy Spirit prodded me to think deeper.
How about when I get irritated because they don't move as fast as I want/need them to, so I yell?--Problem!
Or when they make big messes and I get irritated, even though they are learning and exploring?--Problem!
Or when I choose to vacuum, clean or read a book instead of spending time with them?--Problem
Or their noise level is irritating so I blast them?--Problem
Or in my busyness, I miss a chance to point them to God, to lead them to see Him at work?--Problem
Or when I think that I can parent them just fine by myself and inadvertently leave God out of the equation, by worrying or stressing over their wellbeing?--Problem
Or when I miss a chance to show them how to love those who are unlovable or those in need?--Problem
Or when I exhibit selfishness or greed?-Problem
Now, I'm not guilty of all of these all of the time. But, I do recognize a few of these in myself from time to time. Jesus didn't say, make sure you don't cause them to stumble--most of the time. There is no qualifying standard beyond perfection. I recognize that neither I nor anyone else will ever attain that standard, but God wants to help me do the best I can, to do better today than yesterday, but not as well as tomorrow.
Once again, I'm amazed at how God weaves his lessons throughout my ordinary daily activities. I'm asking the Lord to help me love my children and the other children I come into contact with as perfectly as possible.
I certainly want to avoid that gargantuan necklace!