I just have to tell you how much I am enjoying teaching Anatomy & Physiology to my boys this year. And they are absolutely loving it. In fact, generally speaking, they are loving school a lot more over all. I think it might have something to do with my attitude change, which might be somewhat related to our relocation. While I still miss my friends terribly, I do not feel stuck in my house due to the weather like I used to, which I am only now discovering… was incredibly depressing. On top of that we are getting out a lot more anyway. The kids all take art class on Wednesdays and we do history together with my sister and a new friend of ours each Friday.
The kids are doing really well in school and I am staying more on top of things than I have in years past. It really helps that they are all in school and I am not chasing the youngest around anymore or just trying to keep him busy. It helps that at not quite five years old he is doing a lot of the same stuff his older brothers are and is quite the perfectionist so he actually wants to do school for the full time that his brothers are. He writes all the sentences and does all the same projects. I know how blessed I am with a youngest who just seems to get it so easily. It makes school a lot less tedious.
But Anatomy and Physiology has been a favorite with them all and it’s taught us so much not only about the body and its functions but about sin, discipline and God’s amazing ability to weave His truth right into our bodies.
The two best examples I can think of right now are in relation to germs and bones. God knew about germs. He gave His people laws that just so happened to fight germs. They were given in the context of sin though.
“Uncleanness” represented sin… hence God reminding His people to go to the bathroom and/or remove their waste outside the camp. These were given in a spiritual context… He didn’t want to walk among them and step in their poop. It also just so happens that living near your own waste is not healthy. They didn’t know that, scientifically, back then of course. But what a picture for us… do we want our sin crowding around us so that when God makes His way around our life He is constantly stepping in our sin? And what did He do ultimately about our sin? He put it on the waste pile, outside of the city gates, on a hill called Golgotha — the place of the cross. How much more beautiful the verse, “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be called the righteousness of God.”
Additionally, God required a great many ceremonial washings. The priests had to wash their hands to be ceremonially clean. They had to wash all the cups and bowls to be used in the sacrifices. Wash this, wash that, wash this, wash that. Other nations around them probably thought the Israelites were OCD in their cleanliness rituals. But what did God do through this? Their numbers multiplied greatly. Is it any coincidence that they just happened to wash so much, and hence be healthier, thereby creating a stronger bloodline through which, as we know, our Savior was to be born? Similarly, they were instructed not to eat meats that tend to be more easily tainted because they were “unclean.” Again, this was given in a spiritual context which had the added physical benefits of less sickness. But indeed we can see even now the spiritual blessings behind these laws. Germs are very like sin. We always carry them about in our bodies. Try as we may we will never be able to completely rid our bodies of germs. It’s simply impossible. And just like the tiniest germ can grow, if left unchecked, into a nasty bug or worse, an infection or disease, so too sin that dwells in us whether we like it or not, starts out as a minuscule passing thought and then grows, if left unchecked, into an action and then a pattern and then a lifestyle that soon defines who we are and what we think of ourselves. The best way to fight it of course, even though we know, like germs, it won’t be completely eradicated until we die, is to catch it before it has a chance to grow through the washing of the word, through repentance and faith and through confessing our sins to one another (James 5:16.)
So as I taught my boys about germs, we took a tangent into the spiritual application of why its so important that we fight sin, that we memorize scripture and that we remind ourselves daily what our ceremonial washing of baptism means. It means that we are set apart for God’s purposes and that we are to be a new creation, made clean, in Christ.
Today we were discussing the anatomy and function of bones. Now I will be honest and tell you that when I set out to teach these lessons I do not actually have these spiritual truths in mind. I really am just planning to sit down and teach them about bones, but then God suddenly wakes me up to something that I’ve been literally walking around on for the whole of my life. Bones, like any other part of our body, have nerves. They feel pain when they are broken. As adults we probably all know that if we didn’t feel pain, life would actually be pretty awful. We’d be a mess. We’d be unsafe to ourselves. But bones are particularly good teachers in this regard, I discovered today. As I read to them about how bones are created to repair themselves I thought… what would happen if our bones did not hurt when they break? We would simply, as they often did in the old days before splints and casts, go walking around on them and unwittingly encouraging them to grow completely crooked. Not only would they heal crookedly, they would likely (and especially in the case of a leg bone) cause incredible stress and even disfigurement on other parts of our bodies which would affect our gaits, the curvature of our spines and even our ability to breath well. In short, a lack of pain from a broken bone could ruin your life and even drastically foreshorten it. So it is if we do not listen to or heed the pain of discipline.
We are all broken and in need of healing. While we are ultimately healed by Christ’s work on the cross, the process of sanctification is the process by which God brings us into alignment with His heart. When we are young we are dealt discipline that sometimes has a momentary physical sting. It hurts. As a grown up we feel the sting of God’s discipline in a number of different ways. But what if we routinely do not heed the warning carried by that sting? What if we go merrily on our way, walking, as it were, on a broken bone that feels no pain? Our lives will inevitably begin to grow crookedly and later down the road it will be evidenced that we, at some point in the past, had not heeded the smart that was carried by discipline and so become hardened in a way that has caused us to grow further and further out of alignment with our gracious God who first dealt us that painful experience of discipline.
This was the tangent God took us on today in our study of our bodies. I am routinely amazed at the pictures of God’s grace and mercy that He has manifestly placed throughout our bodies to remind us of Himself and who we are apart from Him. He is so good. These are just a few of the things that God has taught us so far. Today our discussion of bones and how they develop even led us to find out what happens if bones are not nourished well so the children saw pictures of malnourished children and the frailty of their bones which led to another discussion about poverty and orphans and even AIDS. It’s lessons like those that make me so glad that we home school.
I have certainly gained a much greater appreciation for the verse that I so often only thought of as a great verse when it came to the issue of abortion. I am learning more and more what He really means when the Psalmist says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”