I remember wondering as a kid in history class what it would be like to be an “indentured servant.”
Back then, I wasn’t sure exactly what the term meant. “Indentured” kind of tripped me up; I wondered why they made the servants wear false teeth and how they’d come to lose their natural teeth. I imagined it was not by some pleasant or voluntary means. But, by the time the teacher finished her third attempt to explain it, I was pretty sure it was an awful lot like belonging to someone else without any real choice in the matter.
Even back then, I didn’t figure it mattered much whether you’d be rented out for a while, sold on an installment plan or kidnapped and carted off to Kalamazoo. Sometimes in my gloomy moments, like when I was shoveling fresh manure out of the milking shed, I’d think that growing up on a dairy farm had its similarities, though of course I now know that was quite the exaggeration. Well, at least in many respects… Whatever the details, other people had made a decision that could be seen as fairly well slamming the door shut on any person interests, goals or aspirations.
Proponents of the plan, I guess, would argue that the family would gain some financial advantage, the youngster or other worker would learn a trade and commerce of the region would be improved. (In reflection just now, that sounds more like “apprenticeship.” Maybe I’m still confused.) In my days of wondering about the benefit analysis, there were some particular Bible verses that seemed to speak to the situation. Things about obedience, working hard even when the boss wasn’t around and doing your work as unto the Lord, rather than unto men.
I’m still working on those and sometimes not doing very well at it, I’m afraid. I have certainly found that there are times when preaching the Scriptures seems to be quite a bit easier than living them. I am suspicious, though, that it’s the humility and faithfulness of living them that rather makes the difference. In this world and the next.