Sunday, May 16, 2010
If you have been in Christian circles for even a short length of time, you have probably met her. At first you were impressed. Perhaps a little overwhelmed. You definitely admired her. Inwardly, you hoped to be like her. Over time, you began to feel frustrated by her lack of ... being normal? Perhaps you even asked yourself, "Does she ever sleep? How does she have time for it all? Does she ever go out for coffee with her friends?" Then, you may have started avoiding her altogether because you only compared yourself to her and saw your shortcomings glaring back at you. Yes, I'm sure you know her. The elusively perfect Proverbs 31 woman.
It as been helpful for me to remember that the Proverbs 31 woman is an ideal to live up to. It is not a snapshot of "a day in the life of..." It is a picture of an entire life well lived. The Proverbs 31 woman probably did not have time to buy real estate and manage her vineyard while she had babies at home (although the part about her lamp not going out at night, might very well be referring to that season!). I wonder if her husband was already sitting in the respected position at the city gate when they were newlyweds just home from the honeymoon? Or was that referring to a position he eventually reached in life with her influence, support, and goodness (see verse 12)? It was when her children were grown and her husband seasoned, that she received the highest praise. Here is a picture of a woman who had the long view, and, as Jonathan Edwards resolved, "lived with all [her] might, while [she did] live."
One verse in this passage, however, has always eluded me personally. It is verse 25. "She smiles at the future." Some versions even say, "She can laugh at the days to come." Really? No worrying, fretting, wondering if all this hard work will pay off? No furrowed brow in the middle of night, wondering if your kids will stray from the faith, if you will live long enough to see the fruit of your hands, if God really notices and cares?
I recently received some insight into this issue. Last week, I heard a pastor speak from Psalm 121, addressing mothers on Mother's Day. As he spoke about the keeping power of God expressed in the psalm, he gave a reason for why a woman can confidently look to the future. As mothers, our tendency may be to look ahead and let our hearts be consumed with dread and worry at the myriad scenarios our minds can generate. We have all been there and done this when the anxieties of life take hold. But the problem with these imaginary scenarios is that they often leave out one very important thing. Actually, one very important person: God.
Pause for a moment and consider: Has God led you? Has He not shown His goodness and mercy, following you all of your days, right up until now? Hasn't He proven His faithfulness time and time again? Take one minute and time yourself. Think about all the ways God has been good to you and how He currently is caring for you. Now let your thoughts of the future include Him. We do not know what the details will be. Honestly, we do not know what a day holds. But God will be there, just as surely as He has been and as He is now. He will be there.
With God, the God of Israel, there is always hope. He promises in His eternal Word to work all things together for the good of His people and for His glory. Not only are there blessings to come, but God, God Himself, your Rock, Defender, Deliverer, Advocate, Shelter, Helper, Strength, and Reward will be there. If this is true, how can she not smile at the future? So, the next time I find my mind wandering into the future, imagining scenes fed by my fears, I will stop. I will shake off those thoughts and remember. I will remember that my God is in the future just as well as the past. And I just might even laugh.