Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Leading a Radically Quiet Life

Nathan's home school graduation in 2006
     In perusing some Christian articles today, I came across one that stood out from all the rest.  It was written by a young, twenty-something millennial about her decision to attend seminary.  Most of her friends thought she might want to pursue some extraordinary goal such as the mission field or even becoming a female pastor.  However, her response to such a notion was that she simply wanted to have a deeper knowledge of the Bible.  She felt she could use the training to assist her father who is a pastor or in some other way right where she lives leading an ordinary life.  I loved the simplicity of this article because for many years I struggled with the idea of "Am I doing enough for the Lord?";  "I am only a homemaker and home school mother of four children.  Shouldn't I be in a ministry somewhere?"  My closest friends will tell you of my struggle.  In fact, my husband and I even struggled with that tug of "should we go into ministry instead of optometry" question when we first became Christians just before our marriage. We were in our twenties at that time.  It seemed that everyone around us was in some sort of ministry.  Perhaps we were letting the Lord down by not selling everything and going on the foreign field.  Yet, through prayer, we felt God's call to continue to follow the goal and schooling that He had in mind for us.
     Within Jasmine Baucham's article, there was a reference to an article she had read by Dr. Anthony Bradley entitled, "The New Legalism:  Missional, Radical, Narcissistic and Shamed".  In his article (which is excellent and can be found at Acton Institute Power Blog, http://blog.acton.org/archives/53944-the-new-legalism-missional-radical-narcissistic-and-shamed.html), Dr. Bradley writes about the young people presently coming through the local church:  "I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and young adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not be doing something unique and special.  Today's millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don't do something extraordinary in this life, they are wasting their gifts and potential.  The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they "settle" into ordinary jobs, get married early, and start families, live in small towns, or as I Thessalonians 4:11 says, 'aspire to live quietly and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with their hands.'  For too many millennials, their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about."
     As I read the article, the thought occurred to me that this is a problem not just for millennials but it is and has been the problem with each new generation of believers.  When a man or woman first awaken to faith in Christ and surrender their life to His service, there is a fire within to "go out and save the world."  The question that should be asked is how and where does God want me to go out and share the Gospel.
     In referring back to the scripture which Dr. Bradley quoted in his article (I Thess. 4:11), the footnote in my "Reformation Study Bible" reads:  "....the Thessalonians should be zealous for the honor that comes not through self-assertion, or an ostentatious show of personal greatness, but through humble, industrious, and unimpeachable behavior.  This exhortation, pertinent to all Christians, had a particular urgency in Thessalonica where the Christians had already been falsely accused of sedition (Acts 17:6-9).  By living lives that were respectable and unpretentious, the Christians were to allay any lingering suspicions."  I love this explanation.  Being a homemaker, a mother, a wife, a home school mother, a grandmother and presently, a blog writer are all the ministries which God has given to me.   They are not unimportant or insignificant in the face of God.  It is okay to lead an ordinary life in humility, loving and serving the Lord.  God's calling is unique in each life.  We should never think it is "one size fits all."
     At present, our family has three teachers, an attorney, an education director at a philharmonic center, a Christian Education minister/youth leader and a firefighter in training.  Each one of these is a ministry touching the lives of others.  As Paul told us in his letter to the Christians at Corinth, we all make up the Body of Christ.  There is no part more important than another.  Then he writes:  "But as it is, 'God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body" ( I Cor. 12:18-20).
Thanksgiving 2012...our ministry to family has grown.
     For this moment, I am leading a radically quiet life coram deo (before the Face of God) according to His good pleasure.  My desire is to glorify God in my writing, in my singing (in the church choir), and in working alongside my husband in his optometry practice.  If I were to pass along anything to the next generation of young people, I would say that there is no need to feel inferior if God calls you to a quiet life of service in your town.  There is no greater calling than to raise a godly family who will serve and honor Him all of their lives.  Listen to the voice of God and find His will for your life in His Word.  Do not allow guilt or shame to drive you into a ministry for which the Lord has not called you, but serve Him heartily where He has placed you.  Then you will find satisfaction in your work and the blessing of God upon your life.  I speak from experience.  Selah!

2 comments:

Diane said...

I love this Barbara. You and I have such similar callings in helping our husbands with our businesses, serving our families and quietly writing our blogs. It's a perfect fit for me too.

When we were younger we went to Bible College with the intent of going on the foreign field but when it didn't work out that way, I felt guilty for staying "stateside". Then when we left full-time Christian ministry years later I felt guilty again, as though I was no longer serving the Lord.

The Lord has since taught me how much He delights in using ordinary people like us who quietly love Him and the people He places in our path. We can reach people for Christ in places a minister or missionary would never be invited.

You are a true encouragement to me!

Barbara Thayer said...

I am so grateful to God that I can be a blessing in your life as you are in mine. Isn't He good to put us just where He wants us to be? How could we ever doubt that yet our flesh does at times. We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God whose sovereignty places us just where we are needed. May God always receive all the glory! Blessings my friend!