Monday, December 12, 2011

A Maiden Going to the Sacrifice

I have been reading through J.R. Miller's "Homemaking" lately and I must say, that it is one of the most poetically written books on the function of the home, that I have ever read. The words in it are precious, and it makes my heart swell, to feel the attitude of love this book was written in.  

When I first read the quote below, I almost cried!  It tugged on my heart and poured a conviction on me that was overwhelming. The message it is conveying is one that is incredibly true, but the illustration that J.R. Miller gives, is priceless.

"The young maiden goes smiling and singing to the marriage altar.  Does she know that if she has not Christ with her she is as a lamb going to the sacrifice?  Let her tarry at the gateway till she has linked her life to Him who is the first and the last.  Human love is very precious, but it is not enough to satisfy a heart.  There will be trials, there will be perplexities, there will be crosses and disappointments, there will be solicitudes and sorrows.  Then none but Christ will be sufficient."

*emphasis mine

How phenomenal is that?!  Honestly, the depths to which this reaches entirely amazes me! We, as young women, think that if we can run a home, we are somehow prepared to be married...but there is so much more to it than that. We have a noble calling; but we need to ask ourselves what the purpose of that calling is. This statement made me take a step back and evaluate the extent of my dependence on Jesus for fulfillment.  Even though I cling to Him for my redemption, do I cling to Him for everything else, or do I rely on my own abilities? Do I look to the Lord to fulfill all my needs in life, or do I think that I somehow possess the power to accomplish everything I need to get done?  If I were to be married tomorrow, would I have strove for that union in my own strength, or would I have trusted and rested in the arms of my beloved Savior to accomplish that work on His watch?  

Would I be as a lamb going to the sacrifice?

I took J.R. Miller's words, and applied them to every avenue of my life. I looked at my life at home, I evaluated everything my heart aches to achieve, I asked myself some serious questions about whether my desire is for God and thereby, all other desires stem from that, or whether my desires were of my own will. I think it is of the utmost importance that we, as young unmarried women at home, evaluate our hearts and be sure that Jesus Christ is the reason we are doing what we are doing, and there be no tainted motive found. Homemaking is a beautiful endeavor; however, if it is done without the foremost thought being the work of the Lord, then we are headed for disaster.

We cannot be "stay at home daughters" and leave Jesus Christ out of it; otherwise we are doomed--we are doomed for a fall that will be a means to a rude awakening.  We need to remember what marriage is about. It is about taking dominion and showing forth an example of the Gospel. It is about the kingdom of Jesus Christ, raising up a generation of warriors, taking dominion on this earth for the Glory of the Lord. If we enter into marriage and even prepare for it, with the idea that we are gearing up to "play house", we are in for a world of hurt.The years of disappointment that mindset will cause, will simply mean we spend our time trying to work through the disappointments, instead of being ready to do the Savior's work He has for us. We must have our hearts fused to the heart of Jesus in order to be suitable wives and mothers one day. We must be working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13) and allowing God to use (sometimes painful) trials in our lives to sanctify us and mold us into His image. J.R. Miller's words below, convey this beautifully:

"So it all comes back to a question of character. She can be a good wife only by being a good woman and she can be a good woman in the true sense only by being a Christian woman. Nowhere save in Christ can she find the wisdom and strength she needs to meet the solemn responsibilities of wifehood. Only in Christ can she find that rich beauty of soul, that gemming and empearling of the character, which shall make her lovely in her husband's sight when the bloom of youth is gone, when the brilliance has faded out of her eyes and the roses have fled from her cheeks. Only Christ can teach her how to live so as to be blessed and a blessing in her married life."

Noble womanhood is a wonderful thing; however, we cannot worship *womanhood*, we must worship almighty God, and thereby, cherish and love womanhood.  It is a beautiful is a glorious thing! My heart aches with joy at the very idea of what happens for the Kingdom when women take up their calling and embrace the beauty of femininity and defy all the demons of feminism!  But this kind of beauty only comes when one's heart yearns for the beauty of a life that conveys an accurate portrait of Christ, not a religious spirit that is only seeking praise and adoration for living a life that appears holy. My heart is heavy with conviction! Every time I clean, cook, run errands, babysit, serve, do laundry, iron Sunday clothes, play music, study or write a blog post, I desire for my purpose behind those things to be the glory of the Lord!  I don't want to just rush through it and get it done because it is a burden to me--I want to savor it and think on the Lord as I do it! I want to think about how I am taking dominion with tasks that can, either feel like a burden, or be so enjoyable that I do them just for the fun of it, rather than for God. 

Esther is my absolute favorite woman in the entire Bible! She had a task placed upon her that I don't feel I would ever have been able to cope with. But yet, when she was afraid that she might somehow lose her life, she didn't get angry with God and complain about the place that He had put her in, but rather, her humility and desire to serve God overcame any pride and her words inspire me every time I think upon them: 

"And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!" So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him." Esther 4:13-17

  *emphasis mine

Would I be willing to say that in a comparable scenario? Would I have a similar attitude or would my thoughts be on executing everything perfectly so that I didn't have to worry about losing my life due to a mistake? Would I be more focused on praying and fasting, or on going through every single step to achieve my purpose and wasting precious time dwelling on the possibly tragic outcome? You see, God has given us the grace to go through whatever situation He puts us in!  And not just enough grace to suffer through, but to persevere with a beautiful attitude that reflects His marvelous majesty! It gives me the chills to look at all of human history and see the unique and inspiring ways God reveals His greatness through people and their trials. It makes me excited to contemplate how He is going to use these generations' sufferings and difficulties for something incomprehensible. 

Take marriage for instance...some feel that there are not enough marriages taking place; granted, they could be and probably are right. I think that we fear this lack of marriages happening is somehow attributed to either a lacksidaisical attitude towards marriage or a legalistic one. But we forget that God is in control! We must be before Him on our knees seeking out His will and praying for our current situations and our futures; but to be honest ladies, we will be married when God deems the time suitable. If we are really after His purpose being accomplished, then we will learn to understand, and love, His timing--because only He knows when the conditions are prime for something great to happen...and He knows what it takes to make a situation ideal for the edification of His kingdom.

It is unreservedly important that we look to Him for happiness; that we take our redemption and hold it so dear and so precious that nothing can steal the joy we feel from being counted among the redeemed! That is just glorious!  Inexpressibly glorious, I say!! I am excited...I am excited to see God's work in our lives, I am anxious to see what paths He guides us down and in what ways He defeats the enemy through our sanctification and hardships.

So as we pray for noble intentions and ask God to truly prepare us for marriage the way He defines it, let us learn to be wholly dependent on Him for everything and find contentment with solely being children of God!

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1