I've been reading "Of Plymouth Plantation" written by William Bradford. It chronicles the history of the Plymouth settlement by the Pilgrims. I grew up with the politically correct version of why they actually came to America... for religious freedom, right? Not exactly.
When the Separatists (Pilgrims) left England, they traveled to Holland and settled there. They actually had a modicum of religious freedom and lived at peace with their Dutch neighbors. This lasted for about eleven to twelve years. The greatest catalyst in their journey to America can be best described by William Bradford himself. He writes,
"But still more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and by the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks and leaving their parents."
Basically, they left to preserve the very souls of their children. They saw them falling away to the Dutch culture and sought to save them. I've been deeply convicted by this knowledge. The Pilgrims gave up all they had, journeyed into almost uncharted waters to a vastly unknown land, faced unmitigated perils and certain death for some... all to save their children from the culture.
What have we done? What do we do? We allow them to listen to certain music, because, well, it's not that bad. Anyway, they just like the beat. We toe the line on what movies we allow to penetrate their soul because, hey, it's just a movie and they know it's not real. Besides, it's not as bad as other things their peers are watching. We allow potentially questionable social activities because, they're teens and they need that social interaction. Everyone else is going too, and we certainly don't want our children to be viewed or labeled as odd.
We are weak.
It's no small surprise that our kids are leaving the church in large numbers. They've seen us compromise in every area where we should be standing strong and teaching them, protecting them, preserving them. We are responsible for their very souls, and when we allow Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Green Day to speak to their souls in order to encourage angst and sexual desires we are showing them compromise. When we allow teen vampires, women action heroes, and murder thrillers to speak to their minds and imaginations, we are showing them compromise. When we allow them to go to a gathering when we know some of the other peers are involved in wrong behaviors, we are showing them compromise.
In the end, we tell them, by our actions, that personal holiness is limited. It is not all-encompassing within every area of our lives. In the end, the very things we are trying to teach are eclipsed by what we have actually taught... whether we realized it or not.
What does this have to do with my first paragraph? I have also shown my children compromise in my spiritual life as I have struggled with those thoughts and feelings that have ruled my inward and outward life. Our forefathers have convicted me from pages written hundreds of years ago. Pages that told of their indefatigable faith and their fortitude to stand for truth in every area of life. That stand moved them thousands of miles away from comfort... and we can't even move to push the "off" button on the remote. When I can't choose to live daily in the Spirit, I can't show my children that personal holiness is about every area of my life, every member of my being. Yet, that is exactly what I want them to know.
We in America have no relation to our first Pilgrim fathers. We have fallen so far away from their vision for their children, which included a vision for this country. Is there no hope for us? I think there is. Satan desires that we remain in our state of complaining, compromise and complacency. However, if we are willing to stand on the truth and for the truth, the Lord will give us all the strength we need. This is something that I need to cling to when I am giving in to the attitudes of myself, instead of choosing life in the Spirit. I need to make this choice minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. The Deceiver has worked marvelously in me, enabling me to create my sinful mentality... but, I am finished. I want to be able to stand like the Pilgrims did. I want to live so that others see my struggles, but greater still, they see the sustaining hand of God in my life... because, as the song states, life is hard, but God is good.