"We write to taste life twice - once in the moment and in introspection."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Shaping of a Christian Family - Elisabeth Elliot

Do you ever get the feeling that you have grown "weary in well-doing"?  That you have not continued to put forth the efforts you used to in such things as ordering your home, or training your children in courtesy or self-discipline?  That your own self-discipline and priorities have been laid aside?

Well, I was having that feeling for awhile and beginning to make progress in the right direction again when (maybe because I realized I needed it again) I decided to reread The Shaping of a Christian Family by Elisabeth Elliot.  What an exemplary family!  Now, I know they weren't perfect and I know some of the story beyond the family history which Mrs. Elliot Gren tells, but reading of the discipline and order and love for God's Word and each other that the parents instilled was very inspirational again to me.  I'll share a little of it to inspire you to click on the Amazon link and get a copy (which I hope to do for each of my children).
Love means sacrifice.  Each member of the family, in one way or another, has to learn to give in, give up, and give over, for the sake of the rest.  When the family is planning how to spend a Saturday afternoon it is unlikeliy the vote will always be a unanimous one.  Several will have to give in, and it is nice if they do so graciously.  Love is always gracious.  When somebody needs help with something, somebody else must give up what he want to do in order to help.  Somebody is having a specially hard experience.  Others must learn how to put themselves in his place, how to comfort and sympathize.  Doing the little thing nobody thinks are fun but which have to be done by somebody - opportunities for self-giving and sacrifice, all of them.
Another paragraph that stands out to me:
The ordering of a peaceful home is not possible without the application of eternal principles.  It is, after all, mostly little, common things that make up our lives.  This is the raw material for the spiritual life.  If we despise small things, regard normal household duties as burdens, routines as boring, rules too confining, we will never learn, nor can we teach our children, to live a life of holy harmony.  This takes faithfulness in the troublesome details first of all, learning to do them well that we may make of them an offering to the Lord, for it is His work, after all, given to us.  It is our daily bread for which we should learn to be thankful.  Such faithfulness is the groundwork for all God may ever ask us to do.
She also quotes from Warlock of Glenwarlock something which gives pause as I reach the "past the flower of my youth" age:
She suffered from rhumatism, which she described as a 'sorrow in her bones.'  But she never lost her patience and so got the good of a trouble which would seem specially sent as the concluding discipline of old people for this world, that they may start well in the next.
There is no escaping the mill that grinds slowly and grinds small, and those who refuse to be living stones in the living temple must be ground into mortar for it.
I'm thankful for good examples, encouraging words and the Holy Spirit who continues to direct and prod and illuminate and who is the God of the Second Chance, as Larnelle Harris sang.  And so I

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