The Little House on the Prairie books were beloved in our house growing up. We loved hearing the stories of Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace fighting the odds in place after place to build a house, cook, clean, go to school, and make friends. It never hit me just how HARD that would have been until I visited a modern day pioneer last week. Marion is a young woman who for a time lived at House of Hope. She is 20 years old with a young daughter. She called me up a couple weeks ago to let me know that she was living on the outskirts of a small town pretty near to us, so I decided to go visit her. The government here, just like the United States once did, has opened up various tracks of land. If a person lives on the land for a certain amount of time, they will get the legal title to the land. For people like Marion – poor single mothers who never finished (or started) high school – this could be their only chance to own their own piece of land. Marion took the opportunity, and is currently living in a shack made of wooden poles wrapped in plastic tarps. Her living conditions are primitive, and she is so happy. Like the Ingalls family, she saw a chance at a better life, and she’s taken it. Her current living conditions don’t matter to her as she plans for the future. Her courage, perseverance, determination, and joy are inspiring, and I am so proud of her!
The Bible teaches us that spiritually we should all have the same mindset as Marion and the Ingalls family. Hebrews 11 talks of Abraham who “went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God…[he] died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.” If we could see what God has for us, we would realize that we’re all living in poverty. The big question that Scott and I have been wrestling with lately is whether or not we’ve been getting too comfortable. Are we still looking forward to the city that has foundations or are we content with trying to add a prettier tarp to our tent? Where are our priorities? To borrow the C.S. Lewis’s metaphor, are we content playing with mud pies while there’s a whole ocean right behind us?
These questions have no easy, black-and-white answers. So for now, here’s to the pioneers who go forth in faith. May we be worthy to be counted among their numbers.