Better Safe Than Sorry

Do you know that saying? Do your children? It means, of course- that we are much better off not taking any risks in order to avoid the possibility of failure and the resultant sadness and sorrow.  There are times when it’s the best advice in the world. To jump out of an airplane without the safety of a parachute is not a great idea! To drive an automobile without wearing a seat-belt will eventually lead to sorrow if you drive long enough. (Rarely do I read a story about a traffic fatality that the last line of the story doesn’t end with the phrase, “according to officers on the scene, the victim was not wearing a seat-belt.”)

But in teaching our children I would argue that this is a recipe for boring, unsatisfying results for both teacher and student. Taking the “safe” route in art, science and creative writing for instance is a surefire plan for getting boring art, uninteresting science and dull stories. Don’t misunderstand- I’m NOT suggesting that we turn on the natural gas and toss a match into the house to see what will happen in a science experiment!!!

But I’m suggesting that pushing our comfort zone is a good thing in many areas of learning. And often- it’s the teacher whose comfort zone needs pushing. You may not care for “critters” but they’re an important part of science. Being willing to handle a snake at a wildlife center when a trained naturalist present is a simple example. Or being willing to go camping if that’s outside your comfort zone, or getting the children up at 4AM to see a lunar eclipse or watch the Perseid’s meteor shower next Wednesday (August 12) in a darkened pre-dawn sky is a “crazy” way to introduce what might become a lifelong love of astronomy. Yes, your children will be grumpy and you may be “sorry” they didn’t get enough sleep- but is it better to miss out on the wonders of an eclipse or meteor showers in order to be “safe”?

Great art and great writing are so often the result of bending the rules and going beyond the “safety” of known styles and proven formulas. (And yes- it IS good to “know the rules” so that you also “know when to break them” in these areas.) Cooking is another area where not always being “safe” can produce delightful results. When our children were young Jane would sometimes serve homemade strawberry shortcake for breakfast, or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in a 1/4 cantaloupe. Wild? Crazy? Maybe- but delicious and the children got dairy, fruit, etc. Not really any different from a frozen waffle with strawberry jam and a glass of milk, or bites of cantaloupe and a glass of milk.

Try homeschooling outside, in the park, at the beach or up in a tree house. Have your children write a short story about a homeschool boy- from the parent’s point of view. Try doing sidewalk art instead of colored pencils on paper for this weeks art lesson. Try painting with Jello or making a mobile out of empty 2-litre soda bottles and empty milk jugs connected with wire coat hangers. “Safety” is often a recipe for boring. Taking “risks” is often a recipe for unforgettable fun.

I often say that we spell faith R-I-S-K. Anytime we live by faith we are taking a risk that we’ll look foolish or be disappointed. It’s a whole lot easier to horde every penny for next summer’s vacation, knowing that if we save 20 dollars per week we’ll have precisely $1040 by next July, than it is to give away the $450 we’ve saved so far to help needy children at Christmas and then pray and ask the Lord to help us find a way to earn or save the $1000 we need in only seven months instead of twelve. That kind of “unsafe” R-I-S-K-taking faith can be the most exciting thing your children learn in school all year this year.

I love the the entire “Chronicles of Narnia” series by C.S. Lewis. In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” Lucy first hears of Aslan the lion (a “type” for Jesus- the Lion of the Tribe of Judah) and asks whether or not Aslan is “safe”. The following is the discussion that ensues as “Mrs. Beaver” responds to Lucy’s question…

‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.’

‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked Lucy.

‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver. ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’

I love that. Don’t you? The God we serve is NEVER “safe”- but He is good. If you signed up for “safe” you’ve become involved in the wrong faith. Living the Christian life and following hard after Jesus is never “safe” but we serve a Good God and therin lies the Great Adventure. Sometimes homeschooling is no different.

Sometimes God’s ways are so “unsafe” as to look like complete foolishness to others. Talk about these verses with your children…

1 Cor. 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Cor. 4:10 We are fools for Christ…

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Stephanie r said,

    I agree with you. These are all the things we have done over the years, and there are probably lots of stuff we did that other people would wonder about!
    I know God is the one who led us on this life of risk and adventure. It was His idea, and I am so grateful.. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our job is to walk with Him, and follow His lead. Yes, He isn’t safe. I love Him that way. The kids do ,too. Everyone out there who is struggling to let Him have control……He is trustworthy! Jump in and let Him take over your household! He has something wonderful just for your family.

  2. 2

    Ely B said,

    Thank you, Steve. I am being encouraged by all of you posts. Thank you for taking the time. I love how you are giving us scripture to look up and share with our family.

    From a FIAR mom. 😉


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