On the Weapon of Submission

There’s no denying that we are in a spiritual war. Our enemy is invisible and our weapons are unconventional. The Apostle’s arsenal included “the belt of truth…the breastplate of righteousness” and more. At ECS we’ve added to the list things like “weaponized laughter” and feasting. And really, any good gift from God becomes a weapon of our warfare when received with gratefulness.

If you want proof, consider the enemy’s perversion of God’s gifts to us. Food? Wine? Sex? Freedom of speech? Satan hates that stuff. He would have us fear food or (at least!) be gluttonous. He would have us abstain from alcohol because of its dangers when abused. He would have us commit sexual sins because doing so harms the image of God in us and because sex is meant to be fruitful, which he also hates. He would have us abuse our freedoms (including speech) to the injury of our neighbors. While we could go on, I want to focus for a moment on a weapon we rarely wield well: the weapon of submission.

Submission offers a formula for human peace, happiness, and flourishing. It is therefore well-positioned for abuse. Husbands abuse their wives; parents abuse their children; political leaders exploit those they’re supposed to serve and protect.

The abuse cuts the other direction, as well. Wives seek to manipulate and control faithful husbands; children seek to manipulate and control faithful parents; citizens subvert and undermine faithful leaders.

But what do we encounter when submission is the delightful norm for the faithful Christian? Well, I’ve already said it: peace, happiness, and flourishing.

A friend of mine once remarked that submission was a genius strategy to establish authority and responsibility among equals. Take marriage, for instance. Scripture nowhere argues that husbands are superior to wives, intellectually or otherwise. They generally have a different makeup and constitution, but it’s just that: different, not superior. Husbands and wives are equal in value, so how is a couple ever to make a decision? By identifying a responsible party who will give account for the outcome regardless of whose personality or voice is the strongest. And that party is the husband.

So even if a wife wants her husband to submit to her, he still bears responsibility for her before God. (I’ll let you read that again.) When a wife realizes this, she is then freed up to submit to her husband in the Lord. When the couple faces a tricky decision, she can say with appropriate respect, “[Husband’s name], you’ve gotten my input on this situation, and now I trust that you will do the right thing as God works through you to act in our best interests.” She can then support him even when disagreeing (provided, of course, that he’s not acting sinfully).

This extends to our children as well. I’ve had countless students unhappy in my office because they disobeyed. Quite literally, if they would have submitted to the direction of their teachers, they would have been happier than they were while paying me a visit. Such a child can say, “I don’t understand why you want me to [insert parental directive here], but I know that it pleases the Lord and everyone’s happier when I obey…especially me.” That’s idyllic, I know, and rather sophisticated for a child to use such language. But parents can help shepherd them that direction through cheerful and patient shepherding. This sort of weaponized submission can change the world.

To be sure, some objects of submission abdicate their authority, disqualify themselves, or otherwise don’t deserve our submission. But that too is an abuse. Christians must submit as far as we can, which is probably a lot further than we are submitting at present.

Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” That’s true. Tyrants pervert submission and they should be thwarted. But there are times when the way to thwart a tyrant is by…submission. A king who tyrannizes his subjects deserves what he gets. But part of the way a king comes to ruin may just be through his subjects’ faithful submission to God. It happened to Nebuchadnezzar, and it certainly can happen to parents and presidents. This sort of submission is active, deliberate, proactive.

That’s one way to weaponize submission. Another is through the conscious exhibition of cheerful submission as we refute worldly wisdom. A child who cheerfully submits to his parents may prompt the curiosity of the world. A wife who cheerfully submits to her husband may find a husband who is working to take responsibility…unto the flourishing of her whole family. A citizen who submits whenever possible to the king (i.e., as far as faithfulness to Christ will allow) may soon find influence with the king. When we wield the weapon of submission, we hack at the root of humanistic ambition; we put feet to the faith we proclaim…that death brings life, loss is gain, and happiness comes through self-denial. We model our Savior, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

Though this is not a typical Raggant Standard “Letter from the U.H.”, I believe that we all need to be reminded that our kids (and students!) are learning from us. We are teaching them how to submit, and our actions are more effective teachers than our words. This is a principle we discuss frequently as a teaching staff, and we ought to do so as parents, as well. And just as we imitate Christ, may our children learn to wield this powerful weapon. And may grace cover the gap between our actions and our words…while we fight to close it.

—Mr. Sarr
The U.H.

Thoughts On the Orienting Feature of Feasting

Believe it or not, it’s November. Here we are, still recovering from Reformation Day, winding up the quarter, and staring down the barrel of Thanksgiving and the holiday season. This is a great time to offer some reminders about Thanksgiving and the value of feasting.

I was tempted to cut and paste from any of the multiple times we’ve discussed this topic in the past, including this invitation to the 2017 Fundraising Feast, this article from a 2017 Raggant Standard, or even this post from the Sarrs’ blog the fall that we opened ECS. I never get tired of talking about this, and I’m always looking for ways to make the message more helpful. This article is still another such attempt.

Why did the Lord wish for the Hebrews to remember Passover? Because that dark day was full of blessing and provision from God. Why do Christians call the day of Christ’s death “Good Friday?” Because that was the day that He dealt Death a fatal blow and paid our death penalty. These things are worth remembering, so Christians feast to remember the good that God has done for us…especially when we may be momentarily focused on bad things (like the death of a firstborn or the murder of the Son).

At ECS, we have problems. This is not the time or the place to catalogue them, but there’s plenty we need to work on and plenty that we need the Lord to fix. Much of my days are spent thinking about and trying to address them…or even helping to Lord to fix them (as though He needs it). But in the midst of our problems are countless blessings. Here’s a sample:

  • We still get to come to school.
  • We still get to retreat to God’s Holy Word, which affirms that all men have value as image bearers…and that God made male and female (Gen. 5:2).
  • We get to finish The Iliad and read all of The Psalms in the same class in the same week (this week, in fact).
  • We get to serve about 180 students.
  • We get to put our children under the tutelage of godly teachers…many of whom are men, and male teachers are quite rare these days.
  • We have a second basketball hoop on the playground (er…parking lot).

Whether it’s a basketball hoop, a sip of water, a candy cane, a decadent dinner roll, or a turkey’s hind quarter, receive it as gift, given by a smiling Father who loves to watch His children enjoy His blessings. Receive it, deliberately remembering that it represents a teensy fraction of the good He’s doing for you right now. Know that He delights in You because of the work of Christ and Christ’s righteousness in you.

If I’m being honest, I write these things first for myself. I need my philosophical tools to be sharp and oiled if I’m going to answer for why we want a culture of feasting…or if I wish to share that mindset with others. Articulating these thoughts proves a sharpening, orienting reminder. I also need to be reminded of the goodness of God and how He’s showered me with blessings. Your families comprise 95 separate blessings to me.

Along the way, I also want to encourage you. This practice of thanksgiving is a guard against presumptuous sins. Our blessings – both pleasant and unpleasant – are from Him…and they’re on purpose. And they’re good. And we will praise Him.

Risus est bellum.

-U.H.

Mind the Good

Something I’ve been preaching to my own heart in recent weeks has been a simple little mantra, namely this:

Mind the good.

In any given moment of our lives, whether in class or around the dinner table, there are a thousand blessings, if we would but see them. This takes eyes of faith, because we believe that being responsible means dealing with the problems before us. But thankfulness cleans off of our smudgy glasses to be able to see those problems more clearly. It lends perspective, and we all need that.

Imagine a mom and dad and their four kids are at the dinner table, and the kids are bickering. True, it’s bad that they’re bickering. Maybe even really bad. But…

  • It’s good that the kids are all there, and none are sick or in the hospital.
  • It’s good that the family has managed to prioritize mealtimes together for sake of connection.
  • It’s good that the table has food on it.
  • It’s good that they have a place to eat that food.
  • It’s good that moments like these are (probably) outnumbered by sweeter moments of harmony that cultivate family loyalty and create happy memories.
  • In sneaky ways, these times are stabilizing and anchoring for the family.

What, of these good things, do they deserve? (Hint: it rhymes with “sun.”)

Being mindful of the good things in this vignette does not make the bickering automatically disappear. And yet it does lend a degree of helpful clarity when it comes time to address that bickering.

If you’re at ECS, you have a family. Families are good, and families have family problems. Your kids are in a classroom full of other sinners and also full of good blessings.

May God grant us eyes of faith to see the good in the midst of the bad.

—The U.H.

Receivers Play Offense

I like football. It’s fun to watch and to play. On the offensive side of things, the people who have opportunity to touch the football play what are called “skill positions.” These include the quarterback, running backs, and receivers. The defense works to disrupt the plans of the offense and prevent them from going down the field and scoring.

For sake of the current illustration, I want to focus on the receivers. They are at the mercy of the quarterback to pass them the ball, or they are reduced to blockers or decoys. But if the quarterback does throw them the ball, their job is to actually catch the ball and then run furiously for the end zone, eluding the defense as best they can along the way.

If feasting were a football game, we’d be those receivers…and receivers play offense. Their job of receiving a football is part of an offensive attack on the defense in the other uniforms. Our receiving blessings is an assault on the wicked ideologies and spiritual forces that surround us. We don’t generate the blessings any more than a football player throws a pass to himself. And the real magic happens once we catch it and run.

Every year, in anticipation of our Fundraising Feast, I am glad to work through the mental exercise of coming up with new reasons why feasting is so important to our culture here at Evangel Classical School. This year is no different.

This year, there are two particular reasons that come to the surface.

  1. We are still here.
  2. We don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow.

If you’re a Christian long enough, you’ll run into an interesting phenomenon, namely this: God sometimes removes the means that you need to do His will. Why would He do this? I believe it’s to foster dependence.

You’ve seen it before. A generous man goes bankrupt. A loving mother loses her child. A doting grandfather loses his mobility and energy. A Christian school outgrows its space to operate. When God closes the door, where does the faithful Christian turn? Like wide receivers, we turn to Him with open hands, because in all likelihood, a new blessing is on its way.

Although we have not been evicted by Reclamation Church, and although we are committed to getting creative and to keeping our doors open next year at Reclamation Church, the sort of growth we’ve been experiencing is not sustainable in our current location. The fact that we are open even now is only attributable to the grace of God. All over the country schools have been operated online this year, but God has allowed us to continue our work of enculturation in person. I’m not sure why He has allowed this, but I’m sure grateful.

God provides; we receive. It is an act of faith to celebrate the provision of God before His provision is visible. I want that sort of faith. And so I will not be waiting until we have all the answers to give Him thanks.

This means we do not need to wait for circumstances to get good for us to praise God. We trust Him, and operate in the faith that He is good, and He wills good for His people, whether or not we understand it. And if you think about it for a moment, that’s some kind of statement.

Beyond all this, feasting is fun. It’s sweet and rich to gather with God’s people and receive His good gifts (like friends, song, food, wine, steak and chocolate) as an act of assault on the powers of darkness and the thankless spirit of the age.

Really. What are they going to do when we eat each bite of steak and drink each sip of wine and enjoy the mirth of our table mates like all is gift? What are they going to do when God sits in the heavens and delights in His people’s grateful enjoyment His gifts to us? Even the kids get in on the action when they cheerfully bring delicious morsels to the table as God’s vehicles of blessing.

God has blessed us in tremendous ways this year at ECS, and we receive those blessings with gratefulness. I look forward to doing so with you at our Feast on May 14.

Risus est bellum.
Mr. Sarr

The Work of a Lifetime

Before most of our third graders were born, a small group of naive and ambitious parents and some their friends decided to start Evangel Classical School as a training ground for culture shapers. We wanted to forge worshipers with sharp skills, a robust worldview, a big work capacity, and a playful smirk. I say we were naive not because we were wrong or idealistic, but because we had only a vague idea what we were really getting into, how very valuable that enculturation would soon prove to be, let alone (at least for my part) how much fun we were about to have.

A veritable lifetime later (for those third graders, anyway), our status as a training ground is becoming more concrete and necessary.

More Than the Shell

Communicating the data related to math formulas and how suspension bridges work and writing an essay and reading a novel are all fine. Really. But all this data has a point, a telos to which it is directed and to where it is going. In order for education to occur, the telos must be included in the lesson. Modern education is all shell, no nut. To teach the what without the why or the how misses the point. Yet that’s the best our modern educational offerings are doing!

It gets worse. Increasingly even the what is being reimagined. Our culture has no authoritative, true, and clear answer for some pretty simple questions: What happened in 1619? What is a boy? What is truth? How much more ill-prepared are we to answer the follow-up questions: Why was the American Revolution fought? What is a boy for? Why does truth matter?

We’re training our students to be able to answer these simple questions, which makes Raggants surprisingly exceptional.

More Than Academicians

People who can answer these questions will stand out in our culture like the captain of the ship with his funny hat, special coat, and words worth listening to. They will have an idea of what’s just beyond the cultural horizon because they will have examined historical trends. They’ll know that once you’ve navigated A, B, and C, that D is likely around the corner.

Our students will have been trained to reason with the tools of Latin grammar and Logic. They will have read Paul’s letters and Lincoln’s letters, Marx’s Manifesto, Hitler’s struggle, and Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail for themselves. They will have sung fighty and jubilant psalms and recited the Apostle’s Creed hundreds of times, reminding themselves and the cosmos that the Maker of Heaven and Earth is doing all of this on purpose.

Every day our students play a cultural role at our school (and in your homes!). In this cultural greenhouse that we call Evangel Classical School, students are being formed and shaped by the conversations they have, the songs they sing, the relationships they cultivate, the books they read, the math problems they work out, the sentences they diagram, the teachers they imitate, the games they play, and more. The curriculum is like the chisel in the hand of the woodworker.

Our prayer is that – equipped with all this – they’ll be prepared to be citizens who shape the worldview of others for Christ’s sake, and we ought not be surprised when others look to them to lead.

More Than a School

So we’re more than a school. Ours is a project that is far more about shaping certain sorts of people than it is about their report cards or transcripts or strictly academic metrics. We are trying to train our students how to think, not what to think. We are trying to train them how to be certain sorts of people, not how to get good grades (to get into a good college, to get a good job, to make lots of money, etc.).

I’ll say it again. Grades are not themselves the point, though they are handy as we try to gauge and assess the academic aspect of our arrow-shaping. We’re training free men, not hirelings; we’re not merely training in the skill of getting good grades, but rather being certain sorts of persons, thinkers, worshipers.

And this is why you are so important in this process; if we were just a school, then parents would do well to get out of the way and let the professionals do their jobs. But we are trying to help you shape your people, and you have to be worshipers yourselves, faithful to your churches and your people, and working hard to shape your children in obedience to God. Only then can we operate properly as an extension of your church and your home as we help you in this ambitious but grace-saturated undertaking.

Risus est bellum.

U.H.

Office Visits

Evidently, God thinks the U.H. needs regular reminders about the gospel. I’m pretty sure I agree with Him, which is one reason why I’m grateful for disciplinary office visits from students.

It’s strange, I know, but it’s true. These visits are rarely enjoyable (although sometimes, I admit, they’re hilarious!), but I do not dread them, and I generally find my follow-up conversation with parents to be marked by gratitude and like-mindedness. But I think these office visits benefit me perhaps more than they benefit the students. Why is this? In these conversations, I get to rehearse the gospel. I get to speak truth to the a student on the other side of the office, as well as to my own heart.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was described as having preached the gospel for four decades in the same place. As a young man, I thought that was strange. Why would an evangelistic message be necessary every week for decades? What would you say once the hearer actually got saved?

Now years later I realize that a study of the gospel offers profound insight into the nature of God and that it cements principles by which the faithful Christian must live.

Take a student who willfully sinned against his teacher in some outrageous fashion, say, blurting out repeatedly in his gleeful enthusiasm for Latin declensions without deigning to raise his hand. Scandalous, right? If he does this enough, he winds up talking it over with me. In my office, we’ll talk about the obvious stuff, like self-control, and what it’d be like if everyone blurted out all the time, and how enjoyable that would not be. But what else?

We also talk about the nature of sin, and how it destroys fellowship. That blurting out cannot now be undone, but it can be forgiven. And back in the classroom is a flawed and forgiven teacher who is eager to restore to fellowship and to class a flawed and repentant student. So the ticket back to class (for the student who is ready to do so) is an apology, replete with the profoundly-Christian request for forgiveness from the teacher (or any human object of the sin). And every time (no, really), the teacher is glad to welcome back the student to class.

Is that not a fantastic picture of what God does with us? The teachers and I will tell the students as much. Just as sin hinders fellowship with God, so it hinders fellowship amongst humans. That can only really be fixed with forgiveness, which must be sought and given. God does it with us; we should do it with one another.

I’ll often tell the students that this is how the Christian life works, and that they’d better get used to it, because they’ll be sinning against people (and they’ll be sinned against!) for the rest of their lives…though hopefully with decreasing frequency as they become more complete in Christ.

When you’re the sinner, pray for the Spirit’s conviction of sin; confess your sin before you’re confronted, own it, repent, and ask for forgiveness.

When you’re sinned against, remember how patient God is with you; love fellowship; be ready to forgive and restore your brother to full fellowship when he repents.

And enjoy the sweet fellowship and the picture of what God does for us.

Risus est bellum!

-U.H.

Plans for the Fall at ECS

I’m sure that many of you have wondered about our plans for the fall in the event that restrictions on schools would prevent us from operating as normal. This is a very good question. We have been grateful for the flexibility and sacrifice of the parents, the work of the teachers, and the resiliency of the students in this time when the school building has been closed. But if there is anything we can do about it, we will not be repeating the springtime experience of guided homeschooling when school begins in September.

A distinctive of Evangel Classical School is our commitment to community. This informs our enrollment decisions, Matins, recess, field trips, conflict resolution, feasting, and more. In order to build the culture we wish to see here in North Snohomish County, the next generation of worshipers and culture shapers must be committed to fellowship and love, and that is hard to cultivate in a Zoom meeting (though we sure have tried). God only knows what the fall will hold, but rest assured: we will only start school in the fall as we have finished it this year if we have no other choice.

Additionally, I want to express again our commitment to love and serve you all, the families comprising our school community. You’re our people and the idea of leaving you to fend for yourselves academically was not even an option for the Board in our deliberations last evening. We are not considering closing the school. It may sound a bit cheesy, but we are building something, and this season has provided something of a setback, but not the doom of the school.

With that said, here are our preferred options (in descending order) for the fall. Of course they all have their pros and cons, and I’m glad to go into those if you’d like, but for now I’ll list and explain them briefly. Here goes:

Option A: Reclamation Church. We would be at Reclamation Church just as we were at the start of last year, with restrictions lifted and schools opened up by the state. We would be delighted to return to normal. But if that is not an option, then…

Option B: Multiple campuses. Between the main building and the Table Building at Reclamation Church as well as one other site, we have considered dividing our student body as needed across town in order to maintain a normal school schedule and keep fewer than 50 bodies in any one building.

Option C: Alternating days by classes. This would involve allowing some grades and classes to attend on certain days (e.g., Tuesdays and Thursdays) while the remainder met on the alternating days (e.g., Wednesdays and Fridays). This would keep our numbers down in the building and optimize spacing for the students.

Option D: Alternating days by families. This is similar to Option C, but families (rather than classes) would be able to stay together.

Option E: Guided homeschool (as with Q4 of this year). If all else fails, we would have a guided homeschool option again for as long as necessary. I’m confident that we could make some modifications to make it better than it was in the spring. Nevertheless this is our last option (at the moment).

A host of factors (some of which are out of our control) will inform and drive the Board’s decision as the fall approaches, but I promise to keep you apprised as details develop.

I know that it may see like lip service or just the polite thing to say right now, but I sincerely mean this: I am grateful for our school community. I have been impressed and humbled by how supportive our people have been, evidencing that you are committed to the mission of the school through thick and thin.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the graduation on Sunday. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Risus est bellum!
Jonathan

A Time to Scale the Cliff

It has now been nearly two months since we had school at school, and each day brings a new surprise of some sort. I spent a good deal of time trying to decide what I would write, and I could think of nothing novel (another word that’s thrown around a lot these days). I think that part of the reason for this is because this is more of a season of application than it is a season of instruction.

There are times to learn about how to scale a cliff under enemy fire, and times to apply that learning. There are times to learn that God is sovereign, and there are times to apply (or rest in) that knowledge. There are times to learn that God installs fallen men as political leaders…men who are prone to grasp for power and to make mistakes…and that it is the duty of faithful Christians to respectfully obey as far as we can. I happen to believe that right now is a time to apply that particular lesson.

But the soldier who is scaling that cliff while an enemy is sawing at his rope from above may need reminding of his training as the bullets whiz by his head. It’s true: times of application are also times when review is in order.

At the risk of preaching to the choir, I want to review the very basics of sphere sovereignty. I suppose some of you are very familiar with this concept, while others have never heard of it. But it is a formula for human flourishing that has been the hallmark of healthy Western culture…and it’s something that we teach at ECS.

In brief, sphere sovereignty recognizes the proper autonomy and mutual dependency of the various spheres of authority. In his very helpful book, Lectures on Calvinism, Abraham Kuyper talks about a bunch of spheres that ought to operate with a degree of independence from one another (including the spheres of Art, Education, Politics, Science, and the Church).

I’d encourage you to read the book, or buy and watch this video series, or sit in the next time Omnibus V is talking about the stalemate between Henry II and Thomas Becket (I’m still not sure who won…). I think sphere sovereignty is a really great thing…and so does God…or else He would have blurred the lines of authority. We see evidence of this all over Scripture; consider two quick examples.

First, while laying aside judgmentalism, Christians are actually to judge other Christians in order to keep the Church pure; the Church has a degree of authority to decide who belongs in the her pale and who does not (see Mt. 7:1-2, 18:15-20, 1 Cor. 5:12). Christians are not called to judge unbelievers (that authority belongs to Christ).

Second Christians are not called to be the boss of civil authorities, even though we are to try to influence them with the gospel. (See the example of Paul in Acts 25-26; cf. Rom. 13:1-7, 1 Pet. 2:13-25.)

We could go on, but Scripture is not silent on sphere sovereignty; rather, it teaches it.

But what does this look like on the ground?

When the Church looks after her own, a society flourishes. It’s supposed to look like this. Christians gather en masse on Sunday morning and assault the gates of Hell with our worship (have you ever heard the Raggants sing Psalm 94?). We consciously behold Christ for a couple of hours, becoming more like Him in the process, and we are taught from God’s Word. Great. Then we leave…different. We go out into our communities as faithful, informed ambassadors of Christ in the other spheres and we do a good job, because we’re constantly being shaped and grown into more Christlike people by our worship. The Church’s job is (among other things) to train up people to go operate in the various spheres.

But notice that the Church’s job is NOT to tell the other spheres how to operate. She can make suggestions and recommendations and offer advice, but the Church’s job is not to try to run or operate the different spheres. And if a pastor tries to tell a mayor how much sales tax is biblically allowable, the mayor ought to ignore him.

But this cuts both ways, and you can probably see where I’m going with this. Just as the Church has no authority to try to operate the government, likewise, the government has no authority to direct or operate the Church…or to tell her how or when to operate or not.

Now, it must be acknowledged that common sense is no threat to sphere sovereignty. If your younger brother tells you that it’s raining outside, you don’t leave the umbrella behind just because he has no authority over you. If the State (informed by smart doctors) recommends that folks at church keep six feet apart because a particular virus can leap five feet, we don’t dismiss the State out of hand because they have no authority in the sphere of the Church.

But that is a very different thing from ordering the Church not to meet at all. The exchange of recommendations, advice, and ideas between the spheres is wise, healthy, and good; ordering other spheres around is not.

So what about school? Sadly, in the current situation, we do need the governor’s permission to assemble as a school. And unlike the Church, the school is not its own sphere, and the school does not have explicitly enumerated rights in the First Amendment. (I like to think that peaceable assembly is a matter of perspective. Ha.) So the case to meet as a school in disobedience of the governor’s order is difficult to justify on constitutional or biblical grounds, let alone how we would be received by our neighbors (and all of that is if Reclamation Church would even allow us to do so). Nevertheless, we hold out hope that somehow we’ll be able to assemble at school before the end of the semester.

ECS is not a church, but we do comprise churched families who are trying to make sense of all of this input, and ours is the ongoing and relentless job of training our kids to process the current cultural madness and to respond accordingly. I hope this little primer on sphere sovereignty helps to that end.

And let us never forget: RISUS EST BELLUM!

Jonathan

Unprecedented Firefighting

Well hello there, everyone. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been relaxing furiously the last couple of days, just looking for stuff to think about and ways to fill your time.

I’m kidding.

This has been a time of unprecedented firefighting (as in, putting them out) the last couple of days. And sometimes you try to douse the flames with baking soda…only to find out you accidentally grabbed the magnesium powder. (I mean, they look similar, right?)

To be sure, in making decisions the last several days, we have been trying to apply at once both wisdom and faith. We wish to trust what God has said and not freak out with the masses who refuse to honor the God of the Virus. (Most of us would rather not share an ER waiting area with a consistent Darwinist.) But of course, as much as depends on us, and because we want to love our neighbors, we’d like to exercise discretion at the same time.

To be sure, these are strange and difficult circumstances. Some of you feel that more than others. Maybe you’re trying to administer school-at-home to three grammar-aged Raggants. Maybe you have a salon that has been closed for a time. Maybe you own a small business that operated on a thin margin, and that cannot sustain two weeks of low sales…let alone six or eight weeks. Believe me, as one who recently has gotten to make some weighty decisions that will rather practically affect many people I care about, I get it. It do.

But let me take this moment to offer a few words of encouragement.

This is a great time to apply our worldview. Last week I got to talk about this situation with my students, and it was a rich conversation. One of the things that came up was an important principle: Just because someone is telling you to do something who otherwise has no authority to order you around doesn’t mean he’s wrong. I may not appreciate Governor Inslee’s methods or worldview, but I don’t think he’s necessarily going after churches or Christian schools in the present moment. At present, in the interest of loving our older neighbors or those with compromised immune systems, we’re dying the death of convenience while also doing what the governor said to do. (Even since last week, this has gotten trickier, as I’m not sure when groups of more than 50 will be able to meet without legal repercussions, but I digress.) This is a time where conscience and the Word will allow us to submit, even if it’s costly to do so.

While I’m not suggesting that it is happening right now, we do know that it is in times of panic that tyrants emerge with greater power that they don’t relinquish. The older ECS students should be able to share with you some examples from history, because we’ve read about them. So when crises come, we should be alert, trust God, and those with whom we’ve chosen to lock arms.

Your foxhole buddies would jump on a grenade for you. On Monday I spent about four hours on conference calls with ECS teachers and administration. While reflecting on that time of brainstorming, strategizing, and paring our lessons to the “essentials” (a term we used a lot yesterday), I had to remark, “What a group to go to war with.” I am so, so thankful for our teachers. As we were asking them to do more work, and then to cut back out some of their planned assignments as we try to love you all, there was not a single grumble nor complaint at all by any teacher. None. That’s who I want in the trenches with me. They trust me, I trust them, and you can too.

But it’s not a blind trust. We are here to serve you, so make sure you’re asking the questions you need to, and don’t be afraid to push back if necessary. We are not trying to get out of our jobs, but we are trying help you do yours well even when we can’t meet at school.

This is part of the reason why cultivating fellowship is worthwhile: we’re also cultivating loyalty mutually. In a school community of sixty-ish families, there has been some anxiety and nervousness, but nobody is freaking out (at least not to me), and the general vibe has been very Risus est bellum. People are fighting to laugh when it’s not funny, because doing so reminds us that we win, and above all…

God is still on the throne. None of this is catching Him by surprise. We believe right down to the marrow of our bones that God is sovereign over every molecule, soul, thunderclap and coronavirus. Not only is He sovereign, He’s also good, and He has loved us enough to initiate a relationship with us. We are not impervious to sin or its practical consequences (He has used plagues and enemies to chastise His people plenty of times), but this is only because He loves us and because He is holy. I look at that as just about the worst-case scenario here. If the worst thing that can happen is for God to chastise His children, then we’re in pretty good shape…even if we all get sick.

So rest your bodies, maintain sensible social distance, don’t lose heart and laugh…not because this is funny, but because it will help to orient your Godward focus.

—U.H.