A Greater Goal: Introduction (1)

{this is the first in a five-part series. Stay tuned for the rest of it, posting every Monday in December!}

Introduction

In recent months, I have been seeking to find balance. The school year started and there were a flood of new opportunities and a list of things I wanted to do this year. But I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t do all that I wanted to do, and so I started evaluating how I’ve been using my time. I wanted to decide what I should and shouldn’t do and what things should take a smaller place or be put aside for a time. My understanding of what I should be doing in this season of life as an adult daughter in my father’s home has grown, as has my understanding of what really matters.

In this post and the ones that follow it, I want to challenge others with the same questions I have been learning to ask myself. This has been a learning process for me, borne through much frustration, trial, and error. Since I am an introvert, it’s very easy for me to spend the day by myself, my nose in a book or hammering away on my laptop or sewing up a storm. I often choose that route since it seemed more productive. I learn something from my book, get a story done, or finish a quilt – measurable production. Those are all good things, but they often kept me from the things that really mattered. If I had looked carefully at scripture, I would have seen that often it kept me from doing the things I should have been doing. Often I felt that those things were “lesser” since they didn’t seem as productive or fruitful, or that they should come after my writing project.

I want to be a part of big things and so often the mundane or things that seem to have little or no eternal value frustrate me, and I need to remind myself of this: “If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider ‘not spiritual work’ I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” {Amy Carmichael} Everything we do, whether big or small, can be used to worship and glorify God.

What I hope to do in the next few posts is to encourage others to look at their lives. These posts are not meant to be taken individually, but as a whole, in order to provide balance. We don’t like balance: we like black-and-white rules. Do this. Don’t do this. But what I aim to say here isn’t as simple as that. We must consider our tendencies toward overuse of hobbies – even productive ones like sewing, baking, and knitting – but also remember their place so we don’t fall prey to asceticism. This has been a difficult series to write because it requires balancing the usefulness of hobbies for relaxation, growth, and blessing others, in contrast to filling our time with hobbies so that we don’t “have time” for what God has commanded us to do. I want to make it clear that the mundane and temporal things done for the glory of God are no longer mundane and temporal, but will have eternal value. But the question is when doing anything – mundane or exciting – does it distract us from what we should be doing? If so, it is no longer a good and useful thing. But if they are done in a way that brings glory to God, then even the most mundane task has eternal value.

I hope that many people will be blessed, challenged, and encouraged by what I write here. Some readers will have the appearance of godliness but it will only be belief, not saving faith. Some will have saving faith but a small vision. Some will have a big vision but their way of carrying it out will be in quiet ways. Others will have a big vision but like me will need to be reminded of the small things that make up the big things. Still others will need a reminder that doing little things or spending time on something just because we enjoy it isn’t wrong in moderation. My desire for this series is that we will examine our hearts and test ourselves: are we being “good Christians” or are we really Christ’s?  Is our focus on earthly things, or on Christ? Are we marked by our “goodness” or by Christ? Are we devoting ourselves and our time to the things He would have us do, or what makes us happy and makes people praise and like us?

 

This has application for everyone – man, woman, old, young, homeschooled, public-schooled… but I especially want to speak to girls who enjoy things like babies, knitting, and baking and older daughters like myself – out of school, living at home, seeking useful ways to employ our time. From what I’ve seen from blogs and churches I’ve visited where these daughters are more common than they are in my city, there’s a stereotype. We knit. We bake. We hold babies. We help mothers.

We know the pattern for biblical womanhood, are learning to work at home, and preparing to love our husbands and children, if the Lord gives them to us. These are all good things. They’re laid out for us in scripture and are God’s beautiful design for women. But they’re not the goal, and the nice hobbies that we like to do that are very womanly also aren’t the goal. They can still be useful, however. When we do them, we must consider our priorities and whether we’re being faithful with what is clear we must do. What is our desire? What is our motive? What is our focus? Is our priority as daughters knitting, baking?

The answer to this is a resounding no! Why that is and what we should be doing is something I’ll start looking at in the next post.

{The difficulty here is that sometimes the woman being faithful and pursuing Christ first and the woman who enjoys being “womanly” can look very similar. I can bake muffins for an event and it could be a poor use of my time while another girl bakes muffins for the same event and it was good for her to do so. My aim is not to downplay hobbies and homemaking skills, and I hope I don’t in any way make keeping the home seem lesser or unimportant. What I see so often is an imbalance, where those things have more weight in the lives of Christian women than Christ does, or our time is so taken up with knitting and baking (“icing on the cake”) that we ignore commands for discipleship, hospitality, and good works (“the cake”) and forget that we do these things so that the Word of God is not reviled. Sometimes being faithful will include baking, doing relaxing things we enjoy, watching babies, and cleaning sinks. But faithfulness, not these hobbies, should be our goal. When we fill our time with the little, extra parts of homemaking we often neglect of the world, the church, and even our families, and this unfaithfulness, not the hobbies themselves, is the problem}

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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