Once, a long, long time ago, yet not so long ago after all, there lived a community of families. This community of families knew each other, and grew to be good friends – very good. There were just certain similarities between them that drew them close, creating a kinship, drawing their hearts near to the other. They all had certain convictions that they shared. All families had a standard of modesty. All had a standard of conduct they upheld between young men and ladies. They all went everywhere as families. They all found children a blessing. All were taught that they should save their hearts for one person – their future helpmeet. They all spent time studying God’s Word, in preparation for passing on the legacy of a Godly family to the next generation. In preparation for raising, training, and equipping the young men and ladies to become responsible, mature adults who desired God’s best for their lives.
The young men were preparing family economies, so they would be enabled, by God’s grace, to provide for their future families. They were working towards a vision, a worthy mission, an end goal – a family. A wife and children of their own. With the Lord’s help they labored hard to develop Godly character traits: leadership, compassion, perseverance, faithfulness, trustworthiness.
The young ladies likewise had a vision. They worked alongside their mothers, in their home, learning all they could in the event that if the Lord would one day bless them with a husband and children and a home of their own they would be prepared. They worked diligently, learning to care for children. Learning how to home educate. Learning to cook nutritious meals. Learning to clean a home. Learning to do the shopping and the meal planning. Learning how to wisely manage a home.
And so this community grew. It found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Many families were added to it. This community of people – families – worked together to minister to others. They lived happily, peacefully, contentedly, tranquilly, enjoying the comradery, for many years.
This community of believers seemed perfect – on the outside. Their convictions seemed strong – their foundation sure – it seemed as though they knew what – and Who – they believed.
But while man looks on the outside, God looks at the heart. He looked and saw that, though these people lived in tranquility, life was too easy for them. They needed….something to shake them up. To prove them. To sift the chaff from the wheat. He smiled as He looked at the hearts of His people. He knew it would be hard. He knew it would injure hearts. He knew it would make some earthly ties stronger; and He also knew that some would be diminished.
And so the Lord, with His own impeccable timing, sent storms and trials to this community. Earthly belongings were taken – scattered, shredded, and ruined. Loved ones were called by the Father, to enter His loving arms – babies, mothers, fathers. Husbands were asked to give Him their wives and their children, only to have them given back, weak and broken and frail with hardly a breath left. Children were asked to part with their mothers. Families moved away. Husbands were unfaithful. Children ran away, leaving their parents in a state of agony. The Lord shook this community to its very core – to its foundation.
This community was scattered. Shaken. And to all who asked He replied, “My grace is sufficient. My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Several years passed. There was little to no contact between the families. Some families had stayed close, while others had drifted away, joined other churches, met new people. And then one day, there was a reunion. A gathering. For the families of this community to get together, to visit, to fellowship. To learn what had happened to the other. To share what the Lord had taught them. How He sanctified them.
When all had gathered, there was a realization. The Lord had sifted through lives and bared hearts. All was different. Lives. Families. Standards. It became blatantly obvious who had truly been following the Lord’s leading, and who had followed what everyone else had done. Those who had truly been called out from the world.
Where the standard once had been modesty, it was now whatever you felt like wearing. Too tight. Too short. Too clingy. Too low.
Where the standard once had been chastity, guys and girls now mingled freely, saying whatever to get a laugh, to get attention.
Where the standard was once to keep your heart whole for your husband, it was now to see how far you could go. How much was too much. Instead of focusing on their future spouse, they were all focused on having fun. Young men and ladies hugging each other became normal. Flirting was prevalent. The loud, coarse behavior which characterized the strange woman from Proverbs was heard often. And there were no parents to stop this attitude…no parents to even see it and recognize it.
Where the standard once had been family – oriented, it was now young people – oriented. Children were too young. Parents too tired. So the young people brought themselves. And there were no parents to chaperone. Too oversee. To ensure that all was done in purity.
The Lord had mightily worked, sanctifying, sifting, drawing hearts closer to Himself, proving the faithful from the unfaithful, the trustworthy from the untrustworthy. He solidified the convictions in the hearts of the young people who were still faithful to Him, using the actions, attitudes, words, and dress of the others to produce a firmer conviction than ever that, no matter what happened, no matter the price they would pay, they would follow Him all their days. Seek to give Him glory in their interactions with others. Be careful not to defraud another man or woman’s spouse. Keep their heart pure and holy before the Lord. And, if need be, be ridiculed, in the community that once embraced such radicalness, to give the Lord a pure testimony, a truthful one. For He will not be lied about!
I pray that all who read this would take heart. Truly study to know why you believe what you do. Truly search your heart to know if the convictions you hold is where the Lord is leading you, or if it’s where your friends are being led. Beware of the compromises. They come slowly, subtly. But once they come, it’s difficult to know when to stop them. When enough is truly enough. Be strong and of good courage. He never said that this race was easy. And, trust me, it’s not. But when you lean on Him, when you trust in Him, when you know that His will is always true and good and perfect…it all begins to make sense. We just need to step back, and see the whole picture. See what the Lord is doing. Don’t be tempted to grab everyone you know and tie them up, to keep them from changing, even if it’s hard to see the people you’ve known for years go down a different path. Let the Lord work His way in them. His perfect, sovereign way. And be comforted knowing that He has a plan. He has always had a plan. And nothing can prevent Him from bringing it to fruition.