To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.
~William Henry Channing

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Task at Hand

So how well do we, as women, understand our our role in the home? Obviously there will be differences in the way that role is fleshed out depending our current life circumstances.  What is needed and necessary from the woman of a house with small children is different from the home with older children or the home of the empty nester or the young single woman. But regardless of our marital and parental status God does have an idea of who and what we should be in our homes.

"...and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." Titus 2: 4 & 5
"So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander." I Timothy 5:14

The New American Standard renders it "keep house", the good old KJV says "guide the house", and the New Living Translation puts it "take care of their own homes." 
But what does that mean? Is it simply and only being a diligent housekeeper? Housework does play a major role in our job description, one that will require a post all its own because of some of the reading I'm doing, but is that all there is to it? 
I don't think so. 
Nor do I think it's just making a beautiful and well decorated dwelling place. It's more than housework and home decorating.
'Keepers at home' can be translated and literally rendered as home-guard. That term seems more robust to me. It also seems more in keeping with that Proverbs 31 woman who looks well to the ways of her household. Remember that the term 'virtuous' or 'excellent'  found in verse 10 is the same word used else where in Scripture to describe a warrior that is strong and able. 
In order to fully understand and fulfill my task in the home I need to fully understand how I should view my home. In Keeping House I was presented with four ways to view a home...not new ways for sure but certainly bigger and broader than I had chosen to see my home before. Each picture of the home is based in the author's earlier statement that our homes are outpost for the Kingdom. I really like that phrase :-)
An inn~a place where a meal and shelter are readily available as a matter of course. 
A sanctuary~this one was interesting to me because I've always viewed my home as a refuge type of sanctuary for my family...a place of escape from the big bad world. A pretty narrow view I'm learning. Again, this goes back to having and understanding a good definition of the words we use. In the Old Testament the sanctuary was the place set aside for meeting with existed for the sake of the relationship. It is much more than creating a place where we can shut out the world. The door must open and close to nurture real relationships with everyone who enters be they family, friend or a stranger in need.
A city~when we think of the city we usually picture busy people and lots of activity. Our homes can certainly be that...especially if you have children! The busyness of our lives will come and go like the tide, rising and falling at different times but that is the way of life.
And finally the home can be viewed as a castle. Reading for even a little bit of the beauty and richness of the Tabernacle or in Revelation of the New Jerusalem shows us that it is good and right to desire more than practical functionality. Beauty, creating it and enjoying it, are part of who we are because we serve a God that creates and finds pleasure in beauty. 
Which I guess leads us to the next question.
What does a beautiful home look like?