And so, we begin.
The boys bounded out of bed this morning – in fact, they beat their parents out of bed – as they anticipated the start of this significant day.
Their eager, joyous spirits charmed my heart.
As our family met together before the start of our school day, Jake confessed during our prayer time that even though he was happy for school today, he was already dreading the last day of school.
In fact, Jake penned these words to me in his journal:
Jake and Caleb understand that the final lap is approaching of their Jubilant Academy school career. It’s been an incredible run. We are grateful for these pivotal, confidence-growing years. Yet, as Jake’s words betray, he is very unsure of what the future will hold for him.
He is not alone.
Caleb is also anxious.
He wrote these words to me today:
As their mom, it would be easy for me to say something like, “Many kids feel this way about their future. In fact, many adults struggle with fears for their future, too. You are not alone.”
However, Jake and Caleb don’t need to know that others may feel the same they do.
What they most want to know is what happens to THEM when Jubilant Academy ends?
Is there a place and purpose for Jake and Caleb outside of Jubilant Academy?
For the past 12 years, Jake, Caleb, and I have made their Happy Blue School and Jubilant Academy years a safe, joyous, growing and developing space. They could be themselves and learn at the pace they most needed – without ridicule, without judgment, without bullying, and without harm. You see, early on in their educational experience, they were bullied and attacked for being ‘different’ – not just for being autistic, but for being ex-pat Americans. For Jake and Caleb’s emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being John and I decided that homeschooling would be the best option for our children when we lived in South Africa.
When our family decided to remain in the United States, although we could have placed Caleb and Jake in a public-school setting, with COVID-restrictions in place and virtual-learning the go-to educational practice of the time, it didn’t make sense to have the boys make this transition. To allow the boys to continue to thrive, Jubilant Academy seemed the most appropriate, most prudent option.
And so here we are.
With six months remaining of their high school experience, we want to make the most of this time.
Caleb and Jake have completed their high school requirements. Thus, the next six months will be a time to nurture and grow their confidence with life-affecting skills. Particularly as we have lived outside the United States for most of their lives, Caleb and Jake need guidance on how to live and thrive in their homeland.
And what better way to address their needs, than to address their fears.
For the next six months, Caleb, Jake, and I will study what the Bible has to say about fear and anxiety. They say there are 365 verses in the bible that address fear in some way. Thus, we’re going to tackle them one at a time.
And so, we began!
Today, Jake, Caleb, and I read Genesis 15: 1-6.
The very first verse of our fear study addressed the issue our sons are struggling with right now. Like them, Abram feared for his future. Abram couldn’t see beyond his present, childless reality. Of course, Jake and Caleb are not concerned about having an heir like Abram. However, similar to the man who would become Father Abraham, Caleb and Jake needed to know if God has a way forward for them. Is there life after Jubilant Academy?
So, today, Caleb, Jake, and I read how God Himself came to Abram in a vision. The Lord offered Abram a powerful, soul-strengthening word of assurance. I asked Caleb and Jake to write this promise:
In this moment, when Abram felt burdened and disheartened, the Lord came and revealed Himself to Abram with His own audible word.
Do not be afraid
And not only that, the Lord expressed His readiness and intention to address Abram’s need. The Lord proclaimed:
I am your shield
Offering His presence, His protection, His covering, and His courage, the Lord promised security and assurance to Abram as his Shield. A shield is a tool of defense and covering. Shields are always kept near. They are always present. At a time when Abram felt no security or assurance, the Lord offered both.
And the Lord reminded Abram:
I am your very great reward
No matter what was happening, or what was not happening at this crossroads in Abram’s life, the Lord promised Abram God’s own eternal blessing. And this incredible reward was one that would multiply. It wouldn’t be a once-off. As we know, the blessing awarded Abram multiplied. Abram became Father Abraham, and his children would number like the stars of the universe! Not only that, but the eternal blessing also led to the birth of the Messiah, Savior for us all.
“Do not be afraid,” God instructed Abram.
“Do not be afraid,” God bids us all.
We all have some form of anxious apprehension at one time or another. Certainly, during this COVID-19 affected life we have been living, this time has burdened us with more fears, more concerns, more anxieties than we care to admit these past two years.
Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired with worry and fear?
Are you concerned for your future and the future of your children and grandchildren?
Are you feeling like Jake and Caleb in that you are anxious about what could be next in your life because it will be radically different from the familiarity, the care, and the comfort you’ve known?
Take heart, Jake, and Caleb.
Take heart, dear friends.
Take heart, and do not be afraid.
Our God is present in our lives and the perplexing, puzzling, disconcerting worries that we may dread today, have no power against the covering and defense of our Lord.
Do not be afraid
These are the Lord’s words to us – spoken not only to Abram, not only to Caleb and Jake, but to you and me. We’re heading towards the final lap of a wonderful experience with Jubilant Academy. Our Lord will be with us at every turn.