Living Our Faith

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

A loosely woven ‘homesteading’ movement has emerged and is now gaining wider popularity. The gold standard model of the movement is a middle class family who sells everything they own to move off-grid somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Idaho Panhandle. However, there are endless variations to this lifestyle and my family is a living example.

At the core, ‘homesteading’ is about:

* Living increasingly self-sufficient

* Deep respect for the natural world and the skills of production

* Living free according to ones moral code

For us, homesteading is also the ‘turning away’ (repenting) from consumerism.

The wickedness of consumerism:

*  Consumerism has shortened our attention spans and transformed us into reactive beings

*  Consumerism has eroded our faith communities

*  Consumerism has empowered both corporate parties, to use the coercive hammer of legislation to force Americans to act in corporation’s benefit

Worse of all, consumerism has brought many elements of our natural world to extinction and badly damaged the rest in service of a ‘prosperous civilization’. Although consumerism isn’t the only sin, an honest relationship with Biblical scripture can leave no doubt it is a sin.

Living increasingly self-sufficient

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)

Our initial steps toward living more self-sufficiently spotlighted how 100% dependent we were on the systems of society. We didn’t have food and water stores in case of the unforeseen. We had zero backup plans or resources to lean upon if the power, sewer, water, hospitals, or emergency services became unavailable.

Realizing how unprepared we truly were created anxiety and fear. It’s a common response, and one that stops many in their efforts to strive for self-sufficiecy.

Another common pitfall is getting entrapped in envy, if an off-grid homestead is currently beyond your reach. Pray that God helps you grow through these feelings and take steps toward your goal:

*  Establish a larder or food stores in your house

*  Establish a backup water stores

*  Start a garden (indoor/outdoor, big or small- just get started)

*  Consider adding a beehive or egg laying hen to your home (this can even be done in an apartment with balcony)

*  Store candles and back up lighting sources

*  Develop backup plans for most likely to occur incidence (i.e. weather event, sewer or electrical outages)

Deep respect for the natural world and the skills of production

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so.” (Genesis 1:11)

Perhaps we will never know how it was to be in the Garden of Eden with our Lord…but it is not lost to homesteaders that God originally instructed humanity through the natural world.

How did we veer so far from truth as to believe that the natural world isn’t a divine gift and something to be treasured? One of my most deeply spiritual practices is the communion with God I experience through gardening and tending to our animals.

In this overly politicized world that is designed to distract us from truth, protecting the natural world is one of a few temporal issues that I engage.

As you add to your homesteading skill-set, and refine your skills of production, I encourage you to consider the origin of all the resources and materials you work with. How did the fiber that your yarn is made from get made or harvested? If the tools you are working with broke, how would you rebuild or replace them? If you are raising animals, what moral code guides you?

Likely you won’t be able to influence much of these factors in the beginning, but I believe asking the questions will lead you to the bigger revelations God has in store as you provide more for yourself and depend less on society.

Living free according to ones moral code

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

I find myself sometimes romanticizing the Amish lifestyle. The Amish are exempt from the norms of modern day society. They are surrounded by a community that shares their journey and they don’t spend their time defending their ‘alternative’ lifestyle to the world.

Similar to the early Mormons, Quakers, Mennonites, monastic Catholic communities, and First Nations; when their faith became temporally inconvenient, they still live their faith. In many ways they are set apart from the modern day world.

Theologically we don’t belong to any of these groups, but I respect how they live their faiths. I yearn for that same ‘set apartness’, and in some way homesteading has provided my family with a distinction from the consumer driven society. We look forward to the possibility of building our community with others that have voluntarily turned away as well.

(originally appeared on Shawna’s former blog, Lion’s Thunder, 2/19/17)

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