A Fireproof Life7:30 AM
Again I felt that burning feeling as another dream crashed. I couldn't join this-and-that because we're a big, busy family, chauffeurs are limited and is that really the best use of your time? Time and again I've come up with dreams and schemes only to watch them crash and burn at my feet - whether that be due to their own inability to hold their head up or a more pressing need torched them.
Yes, some things burned. And some things were forged into bigger, better ideas that are constantly bearing fruit.
You get one shot at living. You get twenty-four hours a day to live it. And what we do with that living, with those twenty-four hours a day, does matter: "If any man builds on this foundation [Jesus Christ] using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames" (Romans 3:12-15).
If you have that habit of skipping over Bible verses, no cheating. Stop, go back and seriously read that before continuing.
I know it is so easy to wax as philosophical as Plato on matters of eternity...specially if you're young and dreaming, like me. Our mouths are full of talk on living purposefully and walking circumspectly, but honestly, when I'm caught between my pet dream and the Word of God, only the most violent tug-0-war ends the discussion. So many "buts" are spluttered out, so many of my wisdom sayings are canned, all for the sake of trying to find that single loophole to justify the dream I feel so passionately about. I do not think I am unique in this, though I will humbly continue on in my oddity if that is not true.
The danger is that our philosophying on eternity actually comes true - the days do pass, chances are lost and the foundational years of our youth will impact us in huge ways. I want to share what the Lord has taught me about building a fireproof life - a life that can withstand the figurative fires that test the work of our lives. Every Christian has the joy and relief of not having to depend upon his work to reach our Lord's presence - thank God! Every Christian also knows that even the most pious saint will skimp on certain areas of his house - nobody's perfect, and for that we have Christ's blood-bought forgiveness.
Yet it is clear that our gracious Lord expects us to use wisely the resources He gave us and the wisdom of His Word and Spirit to craft a life worthy of the calling we received.
Laying the Foundation
As young women in Christ, we would be wise to recognize the world's lies about our worth, our dreams, our aspirations. What with feminism now available in every religious and irreligious stripe, defining a woman is hard - much less pinning down what she should do. We have been lied to, girls. Remember "Follow your heart"? Recall "You can be whatever you want to be"? We have heard that we must go to college to prove we're smart - we must hold a job because we're just as good as men - we must win acclaim and a paycheck to be somebody. And so on and so forth.
College. Jobs. Ministry. Family. We know the world's ideas of stringing them together in a girl's life. But the Biblical blueprint is fundamentally different and the building radically so.
Dare you be different? That is to say, dare you be Christ's? The foundation of every life has to be Christ Jesus alone - grounded in the Word - or our greatest effort will be fool's gold.
Framing a Life
Now, we must have two things clear before you read further: (1) there are no numbered steps to a God-honoring life, and while I often wish God had attatched an appendix to the Bible outlining every Christian's life, such appendix does not exist; (2) my life experiences are not your experiences, so praise God for that and watch for the difference between illustration and principle.
The Scripture is clear on a life well-lived, and it consists of a motive and an outcome. Nothing must be done for self. Everything must be done for God's glory. That's the motive. There is no room for Christ in the ideology that chants "Follow your inner star." Yet a life is a life, after all, and must live out its motive. Not only must we act on our motive, but also that action must be God-glorifying too. Think of the parable of the talents. (Was I the only one who thought "talents" meant "unique abilities" and not a unit of coinage?) The lazy servant who hid his one talent in the ground, though perhaps sincere, was sincerely wrong. His motive - fearing his master - was right. His action wasn't even close.
In the same way, we daughters of God must strive to conform to Christ in our actions as well as our motives. We can't righteously pursue the world. We're doomed if we build with material that burns. And we dare not settle for second-best in our Christian walk. We are heirs with Christ and have no excuse for poor buildings.
Beyond the general Christian exhortation to have pure, God-honoring motives and actions, the Word is not silent on what those God-honoring actions are - and He speaks to us dreaming girls, too. There is an overarching principle for women - young or old, married, unmarried or widowed, college-educated or simple-minded, highly talented or just your average lady. The framework we women ought to build our lives in is the home. Women of God should be homeward focused. We see that in everyone's favorite heroine Mrs. Proverbs 31 - in the Titus 2 mentor and her disciple - in the Old Testament principles regarding women's protection and provision.
Note I did not say "confined to the house." Nor did I say "prohibited from holding an outside job." I said homeward focused - that is, everything she does and is goes to the contribution of her home and family. Since homes are the cornerstone to both the church and society, everyone should be sharp-sighted about making sure his actions do not hinder the home, be he husband, pastor or politician. But the responsibility - the CEO - the mastermind behind the home is the queen of the castle herself. Teach them to be keepers, guardians of the home, Paul told Titus and his congregation. "A wise woman builds her house," says Proverbs 14:1, "but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."
In the same way that provision and protection is the man's job, guarding, maintaining and strengthening the home is the woman's. We cannot escape that responsibility no matter how much we love physics or poetry.
Building Her House
Well...I must admit that I wouldn't make the honorable mention at the craft show. I like to bang around in the kitchen - provided I haven't visited the library first. And I know lots of girls whose gifts and dreams don't naturally lead to a kind old lady prophesying, "You'd make a good housewife someday."
So we like to band together and label ourselves The Exceptions.
There aren't exceptions, unless you cease to be woman. God didn't create women to take dominion over a certain realm for 99.9% to grab at the exception clause. He created Woman herself for a specific cause and He knitted each woman together for an equally unique calling, complete with the talents to get it done.
What hope, then, for the clowns in the kitchen? We must keep in mind the strength of when God's principles and our giftings intertwine. A homeward focused life brought about and made unique by each daughter of God is the strongest advocate for Christ in this world today.
Five years ago, I realized that - more than the world needed another Pulitzer Prize winner or Academy Award hopeful - it needed a daughter willing to stay at home and serve her family; because the biggest unit being attacked in our culture isn’t the film world or the academic world (although both are under fire): it’s the family. And the family takes primary importance over those spheres because, like it or not, it is the cornerstone of society. Strong families = strong cultures. And individualistic aspirations tend to weaken a family. So I began to see my dreams in light of those truths. - Jasmine Baucham, "Putting Women in a Box"
There is no verse prescribing a life of cooking, cleaning and crocheting for women. Why would God gift us with certain talents and then let them rot?
That is not to say that we can do whatever we want with those gifts, as if our talents themselves are sacred. They're not. And we're arrogant to suppose that our own talents in our own context can please God. Only those gifts consecrated to Him and operated inside the framework He laid out in Scripture can pass through fire unscathed. Anything less will burn.
Do you realize what incredible diversity and opportunity we have as passionate, gifted young women? Not for us is the world's way or a manmade rule of what a homemaker looks like. There will be the basics of homemaking, those cooking and cleaning jobs, but the rich blessing of following the Lord in every aspect of our lives is a jungle waiting to be blazed. These passions I have - I don't know exactly how they are going to work out in my own home and I'm only beginning to see how He's using them in my current home, as a daughter. But it's happening. And it is absolutely the most fulfilling feeling to enflame my soul.
But remember those burning dreams? I know about having to kill dreams for the sake of my family. Forgoing plays. Skipping volleyball. Cutting out plans. But you know, though I sulked my piece at the time, those things missed aren't really missed anymore. Every dream gone is another dream come. My limited time and resources have gone into the things that I've truly come to love...things that benefit my family.
It hurts because it's worth it.
You may not have such a large family or as many responsibilities as I, as a big sister of seven and an apprentice to a mother of nine. But I submit to you that even your days, your energy will run out. Search - really search. What in your life can go? What about your life leaves the home unguarded? What isn't preparing your heart toward home and your face toward Christ? Get rid of the chaff and build your life with gold!
For more encouraging thoughts, check out Jasmine Baucham's Putting Women in a Box and A Dream Deferred. And don't miss John Piper's video Is It OK for Mothers to Work Full-Time Outside of the Home? for a breath of vision.