Making Heroes of Our Boys and Girls.

We filled out bellies with sourdough biscuits, apricot preserves, and hard boiled eggs at breakfast this morning. Then I thought too long about braving the cold with the boys.

It’s Saturday, a work day for daddy around here, and usually one of the only days I don’t have much on my schedule house wise. It’s been a disaster around here for the last few weeks, or at least I feel that way. So I’ve spent the last several days catching up on projects, hunting down dust bunnies, and tackling the dishes, thanks to another broken dishwasher. Because of this, I new we were overdue for a good adventure outdoors.

But, there’s snow on the ground. Not much, but it’s cold enough in these parts that it’s staying, not melting, and intimidating this mama. I had listened to this podcast with Dawn Duran and knew that I had to brew a mug of coffee and get out the door and under some trees. For my sake. For the children’s sake.

In her conversation, Duran quotes Charlotte Mason’s vision for physical education and play:

“We want to turn out ‘a fine animal,’ a man or woman with a fine physique and in good condition, and we get what we lay ourselves out for. . . . it is questionable whether we are making heroes; and this was the object of physical culture among the early Greeks, anyway. Men must be heroes, or how could they fulfil the heavy tasks laid upon them by the gods? Heroes are not made in a day; therefore, the boy was trained from his infancy in heroic exercises, and the girl brought up to be the mother of heroes. . . . Englishmen, too, can die, but it is not so certain that they can live, like heroes. . . . The object of athletics and gymnastics should be kept steadily to the front; enjoyment is good by the way, but is not the end; the end is the preparation of a body, available from crown to toe, for whatever behest ‘the gods’ may lay upon us. . . . But if children are brought up from the first with this magnet––’Ye are not your own’; the divine Author of your being has given you life, and a body finely adapted for His service; He gives you the work of preserving this body in health, nourishing it in strength, and training it in fitness for whatever special work He may give you to do in His world,––why, young people themselves would readily embrace a more Spartan regimen; they would desire to be available, and physical transgressions and excesses, however innocent they seem, would be self-condemned by the person who felt that he was trifling with a trust.” pg. 101-103, Vol. 3

The big takeaway for me here was that the end goal of our physical education is to be made into heroes who can handle the heavy cross of following after Jesus on the road to Calvary, be fit for whatever plan the Lord has for us. “We are not our own” and falling in to the practice of physical exercise reminds us we are in the rankings of someone else. We are dong their bidding. Trust me! If physical training was only for my personal fulfillment, I would have sat on the couch with a sugar cookie and a book this morning instead of following through with some pilates.

But, take note: this will look different for different people. People with physical disabilities can serve the Lord with their health just as much as those without a disability, it will simply look different.

With all this in mind, I felt enough conviction about these thoughts that I did get the boys out to a small, local pond. We hadn’t been there since early summer, and it was fun to explore newer places to us again.

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As we all practiced balancing on fallen trees, got quite a bit of dirt under our fingernails, and shivered from time to time, I thought and began praying again about the purposes of physical education. God popped a thought into my head that brought rest and joy as I watched my boys in utter bliss:

All we can do as parents is put our kids in front of the flow of God’s common graces and the tools He chooses to use in order to save and sanctify our kids. When phrased this way we can see that physical education is a means that can be used to cultivate courageous, adventurous, strong children. But, again, we must realize these activities only make real change when there is a divine interaction with the Holy Spirit that takes place in the hearts of our children. Apart from a miraculous conversation taking place in the hearts and minds of our children, these activities may serve as nothing more than personal edification.

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So, our prayer becomes: “Lord, use these times of running and exploring in Your creation as a means to turn out boys into men, our girls into strong women. Make our children into heroes willing to risk self-protection and preference for the sake of following you and loving others.”

By virtue of being in creation, you are putting your children in touch with the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) and it’s sight of this glory of God that changes us into that same image of godliness (2 Cor. 3:18). Pray to the Lord of creation to make our kids into image bearers than shine His glory throughout the whole of the earth!

Happy playing, friends!

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