May 24, 2011

The Blessings of Studying History


Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

There are few subjects I feel are more important than history. Not because those who do not learn it are doomed to repeat it, but because there are so many blessings that can come into our lives through studying history. The primary blessing is seeing the hand of God.  I have often told my children that history is really His-story. We see God dealing with His children in patience, love, and even chastisement.  We see Him working through the hands of men to bring about His purposes and will. We see Him prepare the world for the Savior’s atonement through the Greek and Roman empires. It is interesting to think about the fact that the gospel would not have spread as quickly if Rome had not organized the world so well, including quite an advanced road system. We also see Him prepare the world for the restoration of the gospel, by working through the lives of godly men during the Protestant Reformation. Everywhere you look in the pages of history you can see His hand. When you realize that, history becomes exciting.

I love the verse in Daniel that brings this up. “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of god for ever and ever; for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding” Daniel 2: 20-21 Somehow our wise, powerful Father weaves history together all while allowing men their agency. It’s fascinating! Your children will gain so much benefit from learning to see His hand in things. It’s possible that once they see His hand in the pages of their history books, they may more readily see Him in their own lives today.

Another blessing I see in the study of history is learning from the lives of others, all in the safety of our own homes. Every single history lesson teaches our children something about character and leadership, either by a negative or positive example. From the fidelity of Homer’s Penelope to the cowardice of Neville Chamberlain, our children can learn powerful lessons to take with them throughout their lifetime. This will be more effective if you spend time talking about history with them. The worksheets and chapter review questions are far less important than the discussion time. Though they can be a good starting point.

Some suggestions for working history into your day:

  • You can link history and literature. There is a tremendous amount of fantastic historical fiction available for every grade level. Much of our literature reading is centered around the time period we are currently studying. A good resource for finding reading material is All Through the Ages by Christine Miller. She lists literature by time period and reading level.
  • Make their writing assignments related to their history. Institute For Excellence in Writing has an entire history writing series. All the work is done for you.
  • Have your children, when age appropriate, watch the news, then….talk about it.

I promise as you begin to see the hand of God in history, your worldview will expand in ways you’ve never imagined. I can also promise as you and your children begin applying the character lessons you see in history, you’ll begin to develop leaders who can help shape the nation they live in. Seeing God and ministering to the world around you. What could be more of a blessing?

2 comments - Add a comment below -:

Courtney Wilson said...

Great thoughts! Thank you :) I love history as well. The best quote I have ever heard is "History isn't a subject. History is THE subject".

Tristan said...

I love history too and enjoyed reading your post!