Home as a Haven -- Your home can shine like a light in a distressed world!
Are you tempted to be fretful these days? If so, you're not alone. I've read many articles which say that health officials are seeing an increase in stress.
Why are the people around us so uneasy? Well, as we all know, the economy is shaky. Prices, jobs, home businesses, real estate values, retirement possibilities, and personal budgets are all affected. We are also in the midst of a hotly debated political contest. Whatever convictions people hold, they realize that the outcome can affect our nation for good or for ill. Our culture is in flux, and many people aren't certain that the changes are positive. We are in a war, and some segments of the population are not happy that this war is being fought. The media sensationalizes all of this, and people can't pick up a newspaper, browse the Internet, or turn on the radio or TV without hearing someone opine about how dire things are.
On top of this, people who want to live godly lives -- especially those who want to keep godly homes -- are facing negative pressures from without and struggles from within. Anything worth doing has its challenges, and the road to godliness is no exception.
Then, there are the challenges that can occur in any time and in any place. Some people are concerned about the spiritual and physical well-being of their loved ones. Others are facing health challenges. Still others don't know how to overcome hurts from the past or feelings of inadequacy in the present.
In this environment, we have the choice to live out a real faith or to become frazzled along with everyone else. Whichever path we choose affects how well or how poorly we fill our role as keepers of our homes. It also determines the influence we will have in this world.
I don't know about you, but, as I work around the home, I can find myself meditating on concerns rather than meditating on the things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, and faith-building. When I let my mind settle on worries, I become inefficient and distracted. Because my attention is divided, I make more mistakes. I also miss opportunities to rejoice. From the overflow of my anxious heart, I can infuse my home with a disquieting influence, rather than a peaceful one.
When I live in trust, on the other hand, I am so much more efficient. I am able to concentrate fully on my activities and, thus, to do them well. I also enjoy them more. Plus, God opens doors for me to scatter seeds of faith, so that His peace shines through me. I am more encouraging to my husband and to my children, as well as to others in my life.
Here are a few suggestions that help me keep my focus where it should be. I hope you'll enjoy them, as well:
A. Consider what kingdom you're living in. You're either a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, or you're a citizen of the world. There's no dual citizenship. (Philippians 3:19-21, Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 12:27-29)
What does this mean in practical terms? True disciples of Jesus have their heart set on doing the Father's will on earth as it is done in heaven. They follow Christ's example and lay down their lives for a hurting world. They also fulfill their responsibilities to earthly authorities. In the process, however, they remember that their true home is the eternal and unshakable Kingdom of God. Thus, they do not let themselves become unsettled or entangled by temporary circumstances. Whatever is happening with the economy, politics, or culture at any given time, they know that God works all things for the good for those who love Him. They know the Lord is in control and that his purposes will prevail. They believe that their Heavenly Father -- their King -- will take care of them. This can bring great peace and joy, even in the midst of difficult times. Matthew Chapter Six, Roman Chapters Twelve and Thirteen.
B. Come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to approve of or understand the decisions you make. Also, don't fret if the world doesn't always fit your wishes or expectations. Is your heart and, thus, your home an outpost of heaven's kingdom? If so, your values and your choices will be in conflict with the worldly kingdom's values and choices and vice versa. Matthew 5:1-12, Luke 16:15, Col. 2:7-9. Peace comes from trusting that the Lord's ways are true and good. Peace also comes when you let go of an undue concern for the approval of men. John 5:43-45. In the psalms, people express the pain of being misunderstood, but they take it to the Lord and leave it in his hands. That's a good example for us to follow.
Of course, we often mess up, and people rightly point out our failings. Sometimes, we may even need a helpful rebuke to gain our attention. "Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it." Psalm 141:5 Our natural response may be to become defensive, but the Scriptures urge us to love life-giving correction.
Usually, people speak their concerns to us in love, but not always. If you do receive harsh criticism, look for a grain of truth in it. Make right whatever you need to. Do your best to forge a bond of peace. Otherwise, surrender the matter to the Lord and go on about your business. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18
C. Pray about everything, be anxious for nothing, think about faith-building things, put the scriptures into practice, imitate godly examples. God promises that if we do this things, He will give us a peace that passes understanding. Phil. 4:4-8
Followers of Jesus experience trouble just as everyone else does, and we should not pretend that we don't. The key is how we face these troubles. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."John 16:33
D. Pray for leaders, nations, the spread of the gospel, etc. Pray; don't stew or fret! Colossians 4:3, I Timothy 2:1-3,
E. Bloom Where God Has Planted You: Be faithful in the responsibilities that God has set before you. Do all you can to have a great marriage. Love your husband and children. Love your neighbors. Have great friends with whom you can worship and pray. Manage your home well and keep your appearance neat. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, doing it for the Lord. The Lord fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Even if you think your sphere of influence is limited, God can multiply your faithfulness so that it nourishes many.
F. Take practical steps to focus your thoughts on the good. Memorize scripture. Write down encouraging verses on 3X5 cards and place them in your kitchen or carry them with you as you go. Sing! Listen to music that makes you feel happy. Turn your thoughts to prayer throughout the day. Count your blessings. Think about how God took care of many people in the Bible who were faithful in adversity.
G. Overflow with gratitude. Let your conversation be wholesome -- full of grace and seasoned with salt. Col. 4:6
Remember that complaining, bitterness, and worry are contagious; love, joy, faith, and peace are contagious, too. Which set of attitudes do you want people to "catch" from you? "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Phil. 2:13-15
H. Don't listen to negative chatter from the media all day long. Instead, find positive things to listen to and watch. A little news, a little TV, and a little Internet go a long way. It's not necessary to listen to repetitive news stories to know what's going on in the world. Nor, is it necessary to have the TV on all the time in order to be entertained. Be selective about what you read, watch, and listen to. Choose only the best.
I. Leave the things that belong to God to Him. Humbly follow through with what He has asked you to do:
"Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." Psalm 37:1-3
J. Use your experiences to teach your children and younger women that God is faithful. If you are on the way to becoming an older woman, you have already faced many difficulties in life. You can look back and see where you responded well and where you made mistakes. You have had opportunities to see God's faithfulness in action. "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." Psalm 37:5 Children and younger women, on the other hand, may experience hardship for the first time. You can help by saying, "I remember when I was going through ________. This is how God helped me."
Every stage is a new stage, and every stage brings with it new challenges and new joys. I've been married almost 28 years, and I appreciate older women who are walking ahead of me on the road of faith.
We still have among us those who survived the Great Depression and World War II. Ask them how they handled things, and learn from them. Teach your children to respect them as well.
K. Train your children to live faithful, fruitful, joyful, and courageous lives.