Now before you start picturing me on my soap box shouting at you about moving off grid and living solely off the land… that’s not what this is.
I think we can probably agree that self-sufficiency is a good thing. It’s common sense, right? But for those of us who have chosen to follow Christ, we always want to shine the light of scripture on the decisions that we make in life. So that led me to the question, what does the Bible say about this way of life that we have chosen? Is this just some silly whim that my Mountain Man hubby and I have found ourselves following or is there more to it than that? Are we crazy to be actively working towards a life that does not require him to work a regular 9:00-5:00 job outside the home?
Well, the Lord put some scripture in front of me during my morning devotions a few days ago that about knocked me off of my chair (Proverbs always does that too me, especially early in the morning.)
Proverbs 27:23-27 (NLT)
23 Know the state of your flocks,
and put your heart into caring for your herds,
24 for riches don’t last forever,
and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.
25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears
and the mountain grasses are gathered in,
26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing,
and your goats will provide the price of a field.
27 And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself,
your family, and your servant girls.
Again, I’m not saying that everyone is supposed to abandon life as they know it and start farming; however, there is a very clear message here regarding the dependency on money and position as well as dependency on comforts and conveniences handed down by previous generations.
In fact, I believe there are 3 principles in this passage regarding self-sufficiency.
vs. 23 Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds.
These days, not everyone has a flock of goats or sheep on the back 40. But we are all given blessings in our lives that we are to take stewardship of. Whether it be our animals and fields if we are farming or the career that provides our income we are to “know well” their condition and pay attention to our current financial situation.
So what does this look like in practice? If you have a farm, are your animals well fed and taken care of, are they ill and in need of doctoring? Are you caring for your garden well and using up the food that you’ve been blessed with or are you letting it go to waste? And if you are not farming, are you working hard for your employer and proving yourself a valuable employee? Are you being smart with your money and living within your means? These are all questions that we need to be asking ourselves. In general, we need to be asking, “am I a good steward?”
2. Money isn’t everything
vs. 24 for riches do not last forever, and the crown may not be passed to the next generation.
Money and position are fickle things and it is dangerous to become too reliant on our current financial status or the conveniences that make us comfortable. There are no guarantees in life, and if you are living outside your means in order to maintain that status you are putting yourself and your family at great risk.
It is imperative to plan ahead for the event when that paycheck might not come. An illness or injury can take away your ability to work outside the home at any time. Even if you were born into wealth this verse is a clear warning (“…the crown may not be passed to the next generation.”
Whether you are naturally inclined to a “prepper” mindset or not, the fact of the matter is that disaster can strike, whether it be a natural disaster or even war, political unrest, economic collapse… hard times can come and if you aren’t prepared your family will suffer. Have a back up plan, build a savings account that can keep you afloat in hard times and keep a small store of long term storage food and supplies that can sustain your family in the event of an emergency.
3. There is wisdom in good ole fashioned self-sufficiency.
vs. 25-27 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field. And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.
This passage is pointing to both the wisdom of having a back up plan for provision that is not dependent on others and of the satisfaction of a job well done, reaping the benefits of nature that God has provided us with. Again, I’m not saying that everyone is supposed to abandon life as they know it and go off grid; however, if you believe in the true infallibility of scripture then you have to take each passage for exactly what it says. There is a beautiful connection between man’s labor and the nurture of God that modern society so often neglects. He created this world, rich with the things that will sustain us and keep us healthy, and although our world today is making that more and more of a fairytale, we need to get back in touch with that connection between our labor and God’s gifts in and on this earth.
I recently read a wonderful description of self-sufficiency or subsistence living as “removing the middle man” from the equation. In these modern times most people trade their time and labor for a paycheck in order to acquire food and shelter. Self-sufficiency simply removes the middle man so that you are working to provide food and shelter in a more direct way.
Take a few moments and read these verses over again. What is the Lord showing you? The word of God is living and active, even verses that we may tend to view as “out of date” or “no longer applicable” are meant to encourage us, admonish us and instruct us. I urge you to apply these verses to your own life today.
It is never too late to hit the “reset” button.
Its 10:30 in the morning, and your happy home is beginning to crumble. The house looks like a hurricane has hit, tensions are high, melt downs are multiplying and Mama is starting to consider heading for the hills. It is a cycle that needs to stop and it’s up to YOU to stop it; you need to hit the reset button.
No judgement here about the messy house, in fact I once read the statement “trying to clean a house with children in it is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos” this is NO understatement. Its life, and life with the tiny humans is messy. But when it comes to the tension, raised voices and whining, YOU are the model of behavior that your children have been given. You cannot expect them to “change their attitude” if you do not give them the correct example to follow.
I have found that the best defense is a good offence. Starting the day off right is a great way to avoid the train to crazy town. In a homeschooling mom’s group meeting I received a priceless gem of advice.
“Determine what the most important part of your school day is, and do that FIRST.” By starting the day out with a quick family devotion, you are not only starting their day out with a good moral reminder for them to take with them in their daily adventures, but you are starting YOUR day out with the same reminder. I find that taking the time to read a Bible story or a character building lesson to my kids, I am reminded what an important responsibility our Father in Heaven has imparted to us. The responsibility of our children’s spiritual welfare is no small task and is the most important task by a long shot.
Disclaimer: Starting your day with a devotion doesn’t mean you have to drag you kiddos out of bed at 6:00 and immediately commence a theology seminar. We are not all at our best in the first 30 minutes of the day. Some need to have time to truly wake up. I have found that breakfast is the perfect time to engage the kids in a devotion. You have them seated and occupied, now is your chance to gain their attention.
But on those days when your day doesn’t start out in an ideal fashion (let’s face it, not every day is going to fall into the perfect routine), here is 4 quick ways to hit the RESET button for your day and regain some peace and serenity.
- Find you own calm. Take a moment to gain your composure. Tell your kids “Mama just needs one minute,” step outside, and take a deep breath. I recommend stepping outside for a moment because there really is nothing better than a breath of fresh air to clear your mind. Locking yourself in the bathroom will only make matters worse, the tiny humans will find you, pound on the door, and want to know exactly what you are doing in there. This will just add to your stress level. (If you live in an apartment and can’t just step outside, take a cup of coffee or tea, a piece of chocolate and your phone (for music) into the bathroom with you. Take your moment of calm any way you can get it.) Now that you are momentarily alone, remember your purpose. You are here to raise these little ones to know Christ and to help generate faith in this upcoming generation. It is VITAL that you show them peace and calm. They learn by example.
- Sit down. Have your children sit down with you, little ones on your lap, older children nearby. Telling your child to “calm down” will have just about as much effect on them as someone telling you to “calm down” when you are angry. It does NOT help. Sitting down automatically lowers the level of tension in the room. Take this time for a read aloud story or if you missed your morning devotion go ahead and do that now.
- TIGHT SQUEEZE. It has been scientifically proven that hugging is a natural anti-depressant and can even lead to better health. All the proof that I need is the results between my kiddos and myself. When we are mid-melt down, all that I have to do to stop the downward cycle is say “STOP, I need a tight squeeze.” We give the biggest, tightest hug possible, injecting all the power of our frustration into that hug. The results are miraculous, we both end up giggling doing it over and over until the stress is forgotten. Don’t believe me? Try it.
- Dance it out. This seems the best remedy for that “UGH” moment of the day. When you’ve all hit your wall during school or when a chore like house/room cleaning has lost its “shine” (witty pun intended.) Drop what you’re doing and put on some fun, dance worthy music and dance out all those blah attitudes. It is a REQUIREMENT that you dance with your kiddos; you are not allowed to sit on the sidelines. Remind you kids that life is fun, and even Mama likes to have fun.
The most important lesson here, is that you cannot expect your kiddos to have happy hearts if you do not example that for them. They need to see your sweet smile, hear your laugh and feel your love. Yes, there is a time when we have to get serious and strict when discipline is required, but they also need to know our joy.