Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

While teaching a certain child of mine (who I won’t name), I was reminded of a saying yesterday. “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” This said child doesn’t like math. They have it in their head that math problems are from the devil (and I am sure some of you may agree). But no matter how hard I try to teach these math concepts to this child, they just aren’t getting it. You see, they don’t WANT to get it. They have hardened their heart to the idea that it IS possible for them to understand and succeed in math. And on the problems they do understand, they are making minor errors, thoughtless errors that make the final answer wrong (like not reading the question about reducing a fraction, or the fact that they rewrote their answer incorrectly from their scrap piece of paper to the test paper.) The concept is understood, but they are not following through and being careful with their answers.

While doing some practice questions yesterday, this child kept making these silly mistakes. They were getting sooooooooo close to the answer. But at the end, they were writing down the wrong answer, or not carrying a 1 when they should have been, or forgetting what the question really asked. I told them, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. It doesn’t count in math. If you write $6.93 as your answer, but it’s $6.94, I need to mark it wrong. You are close, but not close enough.”

Homeschooling, at least in my classroom, often involves teaching in tangents. Yesterday was no different. Once I first said the idiom about horseshoes and hand grenades, I then had to offer an explanation. My kids aren’t versed in the rules of horseshoes, so we had to compare it to corn-hole, the southern version of what they could understand. And with boys in my classroom, there may have been some loud reenacting about the effects of hand grenades. (Gotta keep learning fun, right?!?!)

After we had thoroughly understood the concept that ‘close wasn’t enough’, I had to rein my peeps in and get back to math practice problems. However, the said child from above, continued to keep making mistakes and I kept repeating the idiom. And, finally, the time had come and I had to administer a math test.

This morning, I sat down to grade this said child’s math test. It is better than they were doing a few days ago, but it’s still a C. And the Armstrong Academy has the rule that one must get 85% on a test in order to advance to the next chapter. Grades don’t necessarily motivate us around here, but full comprehension of concepts does (as well as an accurate follow through) . And quite frankly, 75% isn’t close enough. These same concepts will be built on in the next chapter; these same silly mistakes will follow this child around until they learn that close doesn’t count in math.

So…..are you yet wondering why I am venting about the “joys” of teaching math on our mission page? As I was grading this test this morning and feeling frustrated that we have yet another day of hand grenade infused math class, I was stopped in my tracks by the Holy Spirit. You see, I was close, but not close enough. And guess what? Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. I was so focused on making sure my child could pass their math test, that I missed a moment for a spiritual lesson for everyone. (And by God’s grace and a few silly mistakes on a test by one child, we get another opportunity to discuss it today!)

The spiritual lesson that God showed me…..the one that I want to ensure my children know……the same one we live on mission to share with others……. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Close is not enough for God.

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no other way to find eternal life, but through Jesus.

I love the Message translation of Matthew 7. Parts of it read……

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires total attention…….Knowing the correct password - saying ‘Master, Master’ for instance - isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience - doing what my Father wills. I can see it now - at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, “Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’”

Jesus is the ONLY answer. Believing in Him is the ONLY way to eternal life. And following Jesus is the ONLY way to live. No other close answer will be enough. You may think your answer, your way of living, is close enough, good enough, to get you into Heaven. But, unfortunately, unless your full faith is in Jesus, it isn’t.

It’s hard to take a test, think you are getting a 100% on it, only to have it returned to you with a bunch of red “X’s” all over it. You then have a choice. Be content in your ignorance or seek the Correct Answer and how to get the correct answer from a teacher.

We want everyone to be confident when their Final Exam rolls around.

As a home educator, I have to report to our state about what I teach my children. Each year, I need to submit what curriculum I am planning to use for all the major subjects for each child and their grade. The state cares that our education is on track. However, this concept of eternal life is more important than ANYTHING that I teach my children and report to the state. They need to understand that Close is NOT enough. And then they need to be able to know that Truth well enough that they are comfortable sharing it with and teaching it to others. My daily prayer is for my children, my local friends and loved ones, and all the people we encounter in Guatemala, to fully grasp that Jesus is the Only Way. He is the only correct answer. Close won’t be enough.

So, how are you doing on your test???