I spent the better part of my childhood in homes surrounded by mountains. Early in the morning, the sun would catch the dew on the grass just enough to make the front yard look like it was bathed in peach syrup, the gentle bumps of quiet hills still snuggled in blankets of thin mist. During moments like these, the most rewarding complement is to sit in solitude; hands warmed by strong, fresh coffee; and do a Bible study.
Such times embody passages such as Psalm 98, which exhorts the mountains to clap their hands and the whole earth to respond joyously to God’s presence. These are “mountain moments,” moments when you can experience God’s presence and the satisfaction of completing one of the most rewarding pursuits of godly living.
There is, however, an epidemic currently affecting our globe and invading our homes with ravenous precision: PTS, Personal Time Shortage. This is one of the most effective inhibitors to Bible study either in our own lives or with homeschool students. Here is the reality: those “mountain moments” do not happen every day, and certainly not when you’re trying to do a Bible study with your child. The phone keeps ringing, the noodles are boiling over, and you’re not sure whether your child is wearing the same clothes used as an impromptu swimsuit in the pond yesterday. Even though you want “mountain moments” for yourself and especially your child, even though you want to obey Proverbs 3:5–6 to the letter and train your children to discover the joys of Bible study for themselves, some days there is no mist, no dew, and certainly no peachy sunrise!
Despite the prevalence of PTS in our modern lives, it is still possible to strike a balance which allows for regular, fruitful Bible study. The temptation often arises to cut Bible study from the daily schedule when things get hectic, but this is detrimental in the long term.
While you may already be familiar with solid, compelling reasons for incorporating—or keeping—Bible study in your child’s daily curriculum, it is always useful to backpedal and rediscover why Bible study is important.
Bible study allows you—and your child—to not simply take in but also store Scripture in your hearts. We live in a world that is not only short on time, but short on truth as well. Religious pluralism, a diverse spectrum of faith traditions and religious beliefs which allegedly coexist as equally relevant and equally true, is one of the hallmarks of postmodernity. Whether or not you feel that you should introduce your child to world religions during your studies, religious pluralism is nevertheless a factor they will encounter. Paul reminds his audience in Philippians 4:8 to think on the “whatevers”: whatever is true, noble, pure, etc. It is no mistake that Paul makes the conscious word choice to emphasize truth at the beginning of this verse. If your child fills his mind with the living truth represented in Scripture, it will act as a lamp to his feet and a light to his path (Psalm 119:105).
Familiarity with the Bible also helps your child base his decisions on a godly precedent. It reveals truth to us, embodied in the historical examples of how God helped believers throughout biblical history, and reassures us with the promise that God will do the same for us. What can your child take away from the story of how God provides for Ruth even though she’s not a Jew and is a widowed immigrant in a strange new place? Or when Jeremiah the prophet declares in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan for His people? Or the parables of Jesus, which show His lovingkindness to the poor and needy and His criticisms of hypocrisy and arrogance? Far more than just a “book of rules,” the Bible presents example after example of God’s provision for those who love and trust Him.
Now that we have laid some groundwork and have a better sense of why Bible study should not be the first thing bumped off the list when the daily grind is grinding faster than normal, how can you as an educator and parent incorporate or strengthen meaningful Bible study for your child? How can you combat PTS in your own home and try to find those “mountain moments” instead of staying stuck in a valley?
Change it Up
When I have some bread that has gone stale, I don’t throw it in the garbage; I tear it up for croutons, toast it for jam and butter, or toss crusty pieces to some grateful birds. If you are already doing a Bible study with your child and feel a nagging sense of staleness attached to the study process, find a new way to approach the study.
This can be easily done by changing your medium. You can assign some “homework”: have younger students draw a picture of the action in the story you read that day, or help an older student write a creative reflection or position paper based on the passage. There are also quite a few video and radio series on books of the Bible and specific themes, which can be a refreshing change of pace.
At times, “mountain moments” can be rare because there is no time to sit back and digest a passage. Slowing down and taking time to talk through a passage with your child, looking up a tricky word or passage in a reliable commentary, or staying on the same topic or book by complementing pure Bible readings with devotional books can enhance an experience that might otherwise be rushed—a pitfall that leads to frustration and the feeling of being bogged down.
If you are working through a plan that has become routine and tedious, challenge yourself to consciously slow down. Take a break from straight Scripture and read a devotional book with your child to gain some perspective.
Make it Real
My family did a lot of unit studies when I was growing up, so I have sweet memories of putting on an Esther play in costume with my little sisters, finding stuffed toys to position on an altar for a visual of ancient Jewish sacrifices, and looking up recipes for foods Jesus ate. You can incorporate simple, hands-on learning experiences to help your child engage with the texts rather than only reading and discussing them.
These are just a few suggestions to help you discover more of those “mountain moments.” Although these moments may not occur every day, you can be reassured that doing Bible study with your child can equip you with the tools to not only have sweet, memorable moments on the mountain but to move those mountains as well.
Lindsey Moser is a proud homeschool graduate from Virginia who currently lives with her husband, James, in Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated from Liberty University in December 2016 with an MA in Religion and is pursuing an MA in English at the University of Auckland.