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In case you hadn’t noticed of late, America finds itself locked in a battle for the minds and souls of our children. Two particular stories caught my attention this past week, though any number might be applicable. The first was a study released in August by university researchers in Rhode Island that looked at the emotional and developmental impact of the pandemic on children born since the beginning of 2020. The study found that, on average, these young children displayed IQ scores of 78 where they would normally register around 100 during the same time period. The researchers point to a variety of reasons, including stress, fear, uncertainty, changing routines, isolation, masking, and a host of other factors. While it would be unfair to blame any single cause, the cumulative effect clearly has made a deep impact on our youngest children.

Everyone knows that the power to shape the future rests with those who have the power to shape the children. At CCA, we must continually draw back to first principles and remind ourselves that the parents are primarily responsible for this task, called and equipped by God for that purpose. At the school, our practices and professional work should reflect that value. Naturally, we don’t get it correct 100% of the time, but our aim is to partner with parents to raise up students who can think for themselves and exercise the freedom of their minds and souls to follow God and love their neighbors as themselves. We have erred on the side of individual and personal liberty, something that requires protection and care, a fearful thing that many in our contemporary society would rather give up than guard. That liberty of the heart and mind, soul and body, carries with it a great deal of risk as well. We are fallen people, and we knowingly gather together to learn rather than isolate ourselves for our individual protection. At the same time, we sometimes have to stay home ourselves so that others can continue to gather. Meanwhile, we’re all living through these scenarios not as hypothetical thought experiments but as real, practical situations facing us for the first time. Furthermore, we have the additional call placed on our lives not just to uphold democratic principles of freedom but Christian principles of freedom, meaning we must constantly submit our own motives, fears, and aims to God’s will for us through the love of Christ. Thankfully, we have His word and Spirit to guide us, and His grace abounds towards us as we offer our children to Him in our parenting and educating. Ultimately, both the future and the present rest with God who alone can shape our children as we pray He will according to His word and will.

How does this relate to these national news stories? First, the decisions we make always affect the way our children develop. While we cannot control the times in which we live, we can return over and over again to the word of God to find unchanging truth in changing times. We can offer our children sound teaching, faith and love instead of doubt and fear. We can stay involved in their education rather than giving that responsibility up to someone else. We can prepare for a coming battle even to have the right to do what we currently do, through attentiveness, prayer, and conviction. We can walk in humility and grace towards one another and engage with the hard truths that challenge our comforts and our conveniences in a time where rhetoric rages against reason. And we can point our kids and ourselves to great thinkers, writers, historians, and figures of the past whose time-tested wisdom can better ground us in reality than our current figures whose ships are being tossed about on the roughest seas we’ve seen in our lifetime. We can help one another honor our fathers and mothers, biological and spiritual and intellectual.

This week we began singing a new psalm in Convocation, a hymn version of Psalm 56. A number of great reminders stand out in that psalm. Among the greatest is the contrast between fear of man and fear of God, trust in man and trust in God. Consider the opening verses to the psalm and its perfect relevance to our current state of affairs:

Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up;

Fighting all day he oppresses me.

My enemies would hound me all day,

For there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.

In God (I will praise His word),

In God I have put my trust;

I will not fear.

What can flesh do to me? (Psalm 56:1-4)

What a gift from King David to us all these years later. Multiple students commented on the comfort found in remembering that all of man’s threats, and even death itself, are no match for God’s power and love toward us. He is on our side!

God remains in control, whatever the world does around us. Now, as before, “the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4b), “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). Things may be loud around us, “But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Hab. 2:20). May you rest and revel in His presence this weekend, and we’ll look forward to seeing you back in school on Monday!

In Christ,
Bill Stutzman