D.A.R.E: Deflate Aim Realize Enjoy

D.A.R.E: Deflate Aim Realize Enjoy

by Esther Vandiver

I have a hundred-year-old ring on my finger that has a capital D inscribed on it.  I let that D help me remember to DARE—dare to follow God in reality, not just in theory.  Theory is so neat and antiseptic; it fits well into discussions and studies.  Reality is messy and confusing; it takes time and energies that seem non-existent; and it has a way of revealing all of my own sins and imperfections.  Theory is necessary, but costs me little; Reality is vital and costs me everything I am and have.  I have used the four letters of the word dare to stand for four steps we take as a school family.  The steps are to 1) deflate, 2) aim, 3) realize, and 4) enjoy.

I remember when opening a Christian school was just a dream in my heart.  I sat down with pen and paper, suggestions from veteran Christian school groups, and figures of what different expenses would be.  At the end of my evaluation of the possibilities, I felt really good about myself and my goals.  I informed the Lord that we needed at least $2oo,ooo and a year of preparation in order to begin properly.  I was so proud of having spent so much time and mental energy, logic and foresight to figure out just what we would need.  I told God whenever He supplied, we would begin.  When God decided it was time, however, He sent no large sum of money and gave us three weeks.  The first step in being willing to dare to follow God is to be willing to be DEFLATED, or humbled—put in a position where if God doesn’t come through, we look foolish and fail.

If we knew that every time we obeyed God we would come out looking wise and being honored by men, we would all obey Him every time—but with all the wrong motives.  We could do it and retain our pride indefinitely!  Yet, James 4:6 tells us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  He humbles us by requiring things from us that we cannot give, asking us to do things that we cannot do, asking us to speak when He knows we struggle, like Moses, with not being “eloquent, either in the past or since [He] has spoken to us” and with being “slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus :10)  Yet His grace is more than sufficient for us.

After God humbles us, He gives us a goal to aim for.  The second step we take is AIMING for that goal.  In our case, the goal is to help fathers and mothers to bring up their sons and daughters in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)  This task is bigger than we are—but it is not bigger than God is!  We must look at God’s instructions and observe the example set by the life of Jesus, following to the best of our ability.  Sometimes our aim must be taken by closing our ears to the clamoring voices around us that tell us that our children will be like hot-house plants, unable to function in the “real world” or that we are causing our children to hide their lights and seal up their salt.

The danger here is that we get so used to turning a deaf ear to the naysayers that we begin to practice an arrogant deafness to any advice or criticism.  All of us—yes, this includes all of us fine folks at GCA!—have our quota of faults.  As we aim at God’s goal may we know what to listen to and what not to listen to.  If we get a sense of superiority that causes us to no longer see people as people, made in the image of God—as fellow human beings that we can learn from—we will make it difficult for God to cure our faults.

Thirdly, we will REALIZE our goal at some point, and we must handle that part with humility and grace as well.  You think I’m talking about when everyone praises us for success, don’t you?  But when we actually realize our goal for each student, what will it really look like?  As teachers and parents, we are always striving toward the day when we are needed no longer.

C. S. Lewis says, “If we are any good, we must always be working towards the moment at which our pupils [and offspring] are fit to become our critics and rivals.”  Are we willing, as John the Baptist was, to decrease?  When our young people are able to stand in Christ without us upholding them—that will be our finest hour.  Do not resent it!

By our transparency and humility, by our aiming at God’s goal, by our acceptance of our own decreasing role in the students’ lives, we bring God glory!  Then, we must not forget the last step of daring to follow our Lord.  It is to ENJOY the trip!  Enjoy the fantastic experiences that God allows us to have as He transforms us into the likeness of Christ in the safety of His grace!  Enjoy the suffering, the growing, the beauty, the strength, the fellowship.

An American poet, Paul Dunbar, writes,

              “Man, please thy Maker, and be merry,

                      and give not for this world a cherry.”

Here we stand.  So help us please You, God.