Restful Learning and Repentance
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28–30
About two years ago, I was preparing to go to a conference to speak on the renewal of scholé, or restful learning in education. As I was preparing to depart for the conference, my wife Christine asked me, “What are you going to speak on?”
“Renewing Scholé in our Schools and Homeschools,” I said. “You have to stop talking on the subject,” she responded. “Why?” I asked. “Because you don’t live it.”
This is the kind of “faithful wound” that a spouse may sometimes deliver. It did hurt, but it hurt because it was true. For all my talk of scholé, I was not very successful at implementing it in my own life. What I talked about, Christine actually did, and she had the courage to prompt me to examine my own soul. I spent a good bit of time on the plane flight that day thinking about her comments and trying to repent. Thanks to Christine and the goodness of God, I am growing into scholé, but the sad truth is that I am better philosopher than I am a practitioner.
I am continually struck by the power of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11. I am invited to learn from Jesus by taking up His yoke, by being yoked to Him like an ox is to a farmer. I am to serve Him, as the ox serves the farmer. I am to submit to Him and go where he leads. I will follow Him. I will learn from Him. I will tie myself to Him. I will not be able to go elsewhere, for He will direct my destiny.
But that is a lot to ask, is it not? To tie yourself to anyone? Will I not lose my rights, lose the right to choose my own destiny? Wait though. I am coming to Him because I am already weary from going my own way; making my own path has turned out to be a great burden and I am worn out. He says He is gentle. That is good. I have had enough of rough care at the hands of so many others, even at my own hands. He is humble. How can he be humble? He has such great strength and might, and yet He is somehow humble, meeting me at my own lowly place and not despising that place—or me—in the least. He promises me rest. That is certainly what I need; I am so tired, full of worry and stress for what I left undone and irritated by my many regrets. Yet I am worried about my future—so many dreams and ambitions I fear I cannot realize. Forget about me, what about my children? I have such worry, such ambition for their success.
He says His yoke is easy. But nothing in my life has been easy. Will it really be easy to be tied to this one and follow Him? Where will He take me? Can I trust Him to take me to a place I really will want to go? He says His burden is light. Who has a light burden? Who walks on the air? Wait again. Did He not carry the heaviest weight? Is He done with that? Was it my weight He carried too? If He really did take away my sins, then I suppose there can be lightness and even levity. His invitation to come is hard to resist. I think I have so little to lose or risk. I will go to Him.
It is a simple matter of honesty to say that I have to come to Him again and again. The truth is, I slip out of His yoke often and wander off, only to shortly find myself weary, heavy, and frustrated. The height of my folly consists in this: I can talk to others about the restful life, about His easy yoke and harness, while agitated, troubled, overwrought, and disquieted. This disjunction, seen most clearly by my wife, is the painful gap between my ideal and the real, between my philosophy and practice. When I become aware of this empty space, I myself become empty, until I return to He who keeps saying to me, “Come.” Each time I do come, which is often, I find Him gentle and humble in heart. He keeps saying, “Come.” I think it is slowly getting easier to come, and I think I am staying a little longer most times, walking easy in His harness. Let’s speak the truth. I will have to keep coming, again and again.
Dr. Christopher Perrin is an author, consultant, and speaker who specializes in classical education and is committed to the national renewal of the liberal arts tradition. He co-founded and serves full time as the CEO/publisher at Classical Academic Press, a classical education curriculum, media, and consulting company. Christopher serves as a consultant to charter, public, private, and Christian schools across the country. He is the board vice president of the Society for Classical Learning and the director of the Alcuin Fellowship of classical educators. He has published numerous articles and lectures that are widely used throughout the United States and the English-speaking world. Christopher received his BA in history from the University of South Carolina and his MDiv and PhD in apologetics from Westminster Theological Seminary. He was also a special student in literature at St. Johns College in Annapolis. He has taught at Messiah College and Chesapeake Theological Seminary, and served as the founding headmaster of a classical school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for ten years. He is the author of the books An Introduction to Classical Education: A Guide for Parents, The Greek Alphabet Code Cracker, Greek for Children, and coauthor of the Latin for Children series published by Classical Academic Press. Christopher has a passion for classical education and is a lover of goodness, truth, and beauty wherever it is found.