Thursday, June 26, 2008

On Practical Holiness and the Dress of Many Christian Women: It Was Such a Pretty Picture...

There she was. The first time on her horse outside the safe perimeter of our large pasture and wanting badly to canter around our oval training path. So she did. I had still not quite arrived, but could see her, galloping along with feet underneathe her, confidently poised upon her newly aquired old mare. It was such a pretty picture. She was wearing her very modest looking dress which one of the ladies from our Mennonite church made her. Her legs nicely covered with leggets. Perfect. It was working. She can ride in her favorite dresses. Even with modesty. Cool. It was such a pretty picture when...(rude interruption indeed)...the old mare tripped, Deanta went flying up onto her neck, teetering, still hanging on beautifully, the mare stepped, and stepped again, not quite being able to regain her footing and wham! down to the ground they went. End of picture.

The horse took several moments to get up. It wasn't limping. The daughter then was to get up. Crying quite valantly. Then she said, "I'm not hurt I'm just scared". What a composed and adroit evaluation of the situation I thought to myself. "Grab the horse quick!" I screamed. That's just a good old rule of thumb after falling off a horse. I said, "Well praise God, not hurt is good and scared is understandable and can be good as well".

I tried to persuade her that it's very unusual for a horse to fall down like that and much more common that a horse would regain his footing after tripping without crashing to the ground. I told her she did an incredible job sticking with the horse and hung on very well. "Now do you think you can get back on her?"

Oh yeah, and pretty soon she wanted to canter somemore.

What a pretty picture.

And I'm talking particularly about the 'dress'. She's decided that she wants to dress modestly in the same type of dresses the women from church wear. All the time. Not because she has to, but because she wants to.

I told her she could not until she was ready ahead of time to deal with the questions she would get as to why she wears a long dress. Riding the horse and climbing trees around our property is one thing, but beyond that, there are people out there who will not understand. And predictably, there will be many Christians among them.

She said she just wants to praise God. She walks all day long in an exciting and very active relationship with the Lord and wants nothing more than to please him.

I don't consider her wearing the dress and a pony tail an act of praise. But I'm glad she does. I consider it an act of conviction from the heart of an individual believer in response to scriptural recommendations.

I've explained to her that the women from church wear dresses for a number of reasons. To name two here could include that: the Lord recommends womens clothing for women and men's clothing for men; and He also asks for modesty in our dress, and a woman's covering her form is a nice gesture toward that request. Men would understand best the true impact of a woman covering her form on their covetous and easily distracted minds.

I tell her they also do it to separate themselves from the willy-nilly fashions of the world. Even to distinguish themselves culturally as practicing Christians. In other words, to be walking, albeit in one small way, in the ways of the Lord, and not being afraid to show it. To show submissiveness to the gospel, men and the Lord. And to honor and respect the same. They also have more good and divine reasons for wearing what they wear, for which they find encouragment from the Lord Himself.

She's come to see the mind and love of Christ in the people from her church.

The Bible tells us to imitate people of great faith. There's no stopping her now.

I've taken to changing my wardrobe to plain long-sleeved shirts buttoned to the top. In one sense, I want to wear the dress. Perhaps even the head covering. But it's not for the men. I long for the Bible to instruct me on how I can go beyond having just an excited and thankful heart unto Christ and tell me how I can honor him with, not only what I do and say, but also what I chose to wear. Well it really doesn't. And we Christians walk around so camoflouged in our appearance to each other in this wolrd so as to barely see any evidence of each other.

I'm going to imitate a few others of great faith and hope to the Lord that still others ask me why I dress the way I do. For it's not because I have to, but because I want to. Granted it's not for everybody. And perhaps it will help generate some exciting God-honoring conversation and relationships. Because God came to earth and made an appeal to men telling them that He loved them and asks them, because of His love for them, to conform their will in submission to His, and through Him be once again joined back to Him.

She's heard the good news and is overflowing with it. I think she's ready for the battle folks. The Lord has blessed her with His peace and knowledge and I am just beside myself in wonderment and thanksgiving.

Much more to be said here on this topic.