I wonder if now is a good time to get some thoughts down. It's only 8:30pm on a Thursday night. Even though I'm exhausted from trimming feet today, after acquiring Shingles about 5 days ago(that is when Chicken Pox comes back after you're 50, or even 49 1/2, in my case ), the 10 minute nap at 7pm is not going to let me sleep so maybe I'll get some things written down. The thoughts are streaming and they are the kinds of thoughts I've been looking for a chance to get on the record.
My daughter is overnight at my ministers house due to my needing quiet time to heal from working when I should have been resting. They have 11 children from 6 mo. to age 16 and are challenged, and blessed by, and ready to serve her constantly. The Mennonites specialize and excel in raising godly families. Godly families merely being those that simply pattern themselves after and imitate those people and ways that the gospel asks us to. Sometimes I wonder at their large family sizes but am always left in amazement at how well they do raising them up. This minister(servant), Jonathan Martin, came from a family of 15.
Now she's more than halfway through their '4th grade' school year after deciding on her own to go there midway through last summer vacation. She hasn't looked back. She had already asked to get rid of the t.v. many times, not even knowing it was a requirement for enrollment. In fact she talked me into it even before the issue of enrollment came up. Now it's just a distant memory of ungratifying titillation, that has finally revealed itself to her as being completely empty. Even myself, looking back, now see that it occupies a large part of ones world with mostly unnecessary clutter and requires constant maintenance to remain satisfied. I wouldn't have dreamed of asking her to give it up. At that time it was as if it was an inextricable piece of life itself. Now I can't get her to quit reading to me, or alone, singing or just playing. In hindsight, the t.v. environment seems to both of us like one big marketing scheme. It had even robbed us of our precious imaginations. An imagination and freedom that you don't know until you're free from it's mindless enchantments. Oh, it's still fascinating and full of thrilling(oh and sensuous!) things that really have no bearing on reality once it is turned off...that leave their own partly debilitating imprint on ones mind; and an empty one at that that keeps on needing to be fed with...more of the same. It's amazing how you can do without it and replace it with simply more valuable things.
She's out of there. She's fled the afflicted world to a traditional Christian community of great satisfaction to her marked by people with distinguishably godly hearts. With almost no coaxing from me. Gladly never needing to watch the High School Musical 3 to give contorted and very fleeting excitement to her life. She's found the riches of Christ and a people of God who are overflowing in them. She sees Christ reflected in them. She's in love with not only God and Christ, but a people of Theirs as well.
And they know how to do it all in the way of living a life for the Lord. They've learned from earlier pioneers in biblical living that it's possible to find all of God's rich living pleasures and wisdom in the simple and plain message of scripture and be filled up to the fullest measure in life of joy and peace in the Lord. They simply revel in pleasing and honoring the living Lord and enjoy His Life presence in their own lives. And love doing it together.
I can't begin to tell you. But I surely will as time goes on.
She gets out of school a month before the public school kids. Then during the summer she'll learn gardening and canning and producing food and livestock that fills ones life with the mysteries and magnificence of creation. She has seen large happy families with beautiful hearts born of God, who want to share their lives with her, and can't wait to one day help raise one of her own.
I've told them I can't join their church because there needs to be an online Mennonite presence. My daughter has not looked back at her prior fondness of the Internet because she prefers to do those things other ways and thereby avoid the snare and temptation of wasting her valuable time online. It's easy to do. We've all been there. Many of us keep returning there and simply don't give a good account of our time spent on the Internet. Not in relation to it's and our own potential anyway. She won't be allowed by me to use the Internet unsupervised until she's an adult. That's not to say others can't chose to discipline themselves in the use of the Internet if they'd like. We are all different. The Mennonite's avoidance of the Internet serves the purpose of not wasting time and not unmanageably putting the filth of the world in front of their children. It works for them very well. The average Mennonite family's child, it seems to me, has more knowledge of the bible than the average pastor. Almost everyone in my church could be a pastor. And raising a child to that capacity takes a wise use of the family's time.
So while we are not all 'radical disciples' and not all of us consumed with living out a sort of 'practical holiness', let us hope that we have our own regimen of following after and honoring God who appeared on earth in the flesh to make Himself and His ways known to us so that we could know and serve Him. As many of us know there is no greater joy than coming to know Him - serving Him and serving each other.
Well my Shingles are calling me back into bed for the night. Peaceful and joyous abiding in the Spirit of our living and faithful God. Todd