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Filling Our Empty Cisterns

Rachael Carman|February 15, 2017

Answering the Call to Homeschool

Choosing to educate our kids at home is a radical, out-of-the-box, and arguably strange decision. It’s a decision most of us have made with more than a little fear and trepidation. We thought about it, prayed about it, fought it, denied it, avoided it, put it off, researched it, defended it, cried about it, and for whatever reason, finally gave in to God’s will and heeded His call on our lives.

We Can’t Do It Alone

So if we as homeschooling moms have stepped out to raise up a generation that knows Him, seeks Him, and serves Him, and if we are choosing to be strong and courageous, to stand firm, to be on guard, and to trust Him, then why are we so tired? Why are we so confused? Why are we so discouraged, so exhausted, so spent, so frustrated, and so weary? If we have chosen the path less traveled, the narrow way, then why do we feel so alone, so misunderstood, so confused, and so lost?

Perhaps it’s because when we began this journey, we were ready and gung-ho to trust God to meet our every need. But when the going got tough, when challenges rose up to meet us and the questions got harder, then we began to doubt that God’s grace is sufficient or that He is able to meet those needs.

By choosing to homeschool, we have abandoned the way of the world, yet we often try to refuel ourselves with the world’s idea of refreshment. We fall prey to the lies that say we don’t need God, that He can’t understand, that He won’t intervene in “mundane” matters. Somewhere between stepping out to do the impossible and actually doing it on a day-by-day basis, we forgot that He is not only the One who called us, but He is the only one who can do it through us. He chooses to do it with us, just as He chose to feed the five thousand with the disciples and the lunch of a child. He could have done it alone. He didn’t need the disciples’ help. Amazingly, He wanted to include them in this miracle. They participated by passing out bread from baskets that never emptied and satisfied a crowd—with twelve baskets left over!

Jesus Fills Our Needs

Jesus promises to fill us to overflowing, but when we try to fill ourselves with what the world offers, there is no room for Him. He promises us life abundant, but when we are busy pursuing abundance according to the world’s standards, we are saying His abundance isn’t necessary. So we wander around thirsty while His endless spring flows nearby, untouched and unused. He waits as we waste away, discouraged, disheartened, and needlessly dissatisfied. He longs to wash us, to refresh us, to fill us. And He waits.

Forsaking Our Spring of Living Water

The Lord says to the prophet Jeremiah, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” As homeschooling moms, we have done the same thing. Many of us have forsaken the calling we have been given. We have forgotten that this whole thing was God’s idea, that He put a passion for this responsibility on our hearts. We have turned our backs on His call to disciple our children and bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We did this by embracing the relentless pursuit of academia, the grades, the test scores. Like Adam and Eve, we have exchanged true life and wisdom—knowledge of God—for the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And that is only our first sin, according to the prophet.

Broken Cisterns That Cannot Hold Water

Secondly, we have dug for ourselves “cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” We have sought out refreshment from sources and reservoirs that cannot hold true refreshment, that cannot quench our thirst. The world’s “refreshment” just leaves us more parched and tired. We have turned to the world’s temporal prescription for what is a heart issue, an eternal concern. We have tried to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts with girls’ nights out, movies, spas, shopping trips, chocolate, television, blogs, and Facebook. We have tried switching curricula, joining co-ops, and attending conventions. We have read books, made charts, adopted “proven” formulas, strategized, and bargained. We have planted gardens, ground wheat, and raised chickens in the backyard. We have, as Solomon said, chased after the wind—all in a desperate attempt to find answers to our most challenging questions:

What do I do about my children’s hearts?

How do I handle their rebellion?

What do I do about my ten-year-old who isn’t reading yet?

How do I deal with the daughter who is mean to her siblings?

What about my husband who criticizes my choices?

How do I deal with my in-laws with grace?

How do I keep a transcript?

Many of these questions have practical answers, but all of them begin at the foot of the Throne of Grace. All the answers start with Jesus. He must be our starting point, not our last resort.

Woman's headshotRachael Carman is an author and speaker for Apologia Educational Ministries. The wife of Davis and the mother of seven children, Rachael challenges parents to live by reckless, obedient faith. As a direct reflection of her heart’s desire to encourage, inspire, and celebrate motherhood, Rachael leads the Real Refreshment Retreat’s weekend events that energize and invigorate homeschooling mothers with plus practical encouragement for the homeschool journey.  She is the author of How To Have A H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids, How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?, and co-author of How to Homeschool with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus. Enjoy more encouragement and inspiration from Rachael by visiting her blog at