Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Heroine of Proverbs 31 -- PART II

She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple." - Proverbs 31:17-22 NAS

Welcome to Part II of our study, "The Heroine of Proverbs 31!"

Let's start off with that first verse of our text. From where does our strength come? Make no mistake: running a home is not a job for the faint of heart. Proverbs 31 speaks of all of Mrs. Excellent's works, and she's one busy woman, but her main job--no, her main ministry--is creating a loving and welcoming home for her family. That is a task that requires strength, energy, and much devotion.

I want to also interject here, because though I know this text refers to the Excellent Wife, it must be said that it also takes strength to run a home when you're a single mom. Having been raised by an exceptionally brave and strong single, working mother, I know what trials can come upon that Virtuous Woman, too.

These promises would apply to both ladies:

* "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped." - Psalm 28:7 KJV

* "I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me." - Philippians 4:13 KJV

* "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31 KJV

That is the sort of strength that is available to us through faith in the Great I AM. He is never further than a prayer away.

Dwell on those promises, Excellent Woman. There are more just like them; these are only the three verses that I chose. Meditate on those promises. Embrace them. Rest in them.

Let your heart remember them when you read Proverbs, the part about girding yourself with strength and making your arms strong. That strength gives our heroine confidence because, "she senses that her gain is good." She knows that her gains is good because she has confidence in God's strength. That's something that we can have--and His guidance is also available to us!

Is that guidance only for church pastors? For music ministers? For missionaries? For all those "on the front lines," as they say? No, that guidance is for us, too, in the every day tasks that we perform in our every day lives. If we are trusting the Lord for His help, then we can have confidence that He works all things out for our good.

This passage goes on to say that her lamp does not go out at night, that she works with her hands. She's very diligent; she's focused; she keeps her eyes on what is important. Not only does she work for her household, but she remembers the poor and the needy, too.

You don't hear about this as much anymore, and thank God for that, but there was a time, years ago, when we women were being told by our fast-paced, consumer-driven society that we could "have it all." Besides chasing our dreams at the workplace, we could simultaneously be "Supermom." By the world's definition, Supermom is a career woman, a fabulous homemaker, and a mega-mom, all rolled into one. Becoming a woman who could "have it all" means doing whatever it takes to compete on the corporate ladder, plus having the perfect home and providing all of the best "things" for your kids. Conversely, about that same time, the classic stay-at-home mom was looked upon (and still often is) as archaic, old-fashioned, and according to those who pushed the life-size Supermom action figure, a woman who was unfulfilled. As if it's even necessary to pit the average working mom against the stay-at-home mom. Both are hardworking, both love and cherish their families, both are to be honored and respected. And both need the Lord's help.

Perhaps because I'm a Christian who has slowly begun to pare down over the years, who has also suffered from anxiety and stress, but I don't believe we are called to be "Supermom." We can "have it all"--but we're not called to strive only for the treasures of this world. (I promise to talk more about that in a future post.)

Maybe I'm stepping on toes here, but neither a man nor a woman should be so busy with the things of this world that there is no time for fellowship with the King of the Universe.That there is no time for compassion and helping someone else. Let's face it, as women, homemaking and raising precious children are full-time jobs in themselves. I'm not saying a woman can't have a career and be a good wife and mother, or that there is anything wrong with chasing your dreams, because I began my career as a writer when my kids were little, too.

But we are not meant to be busy, busy, busy, filling up our schedules with the pursuit of obtaining earthly successes and earthly possessions. You don't find that mindset in Proverbs 31. That way of thinking has only brought women the same ailments that men had back in the 1950s and 60s, like strokes and heart attacks, because of the pressures of careers and climbing the corporate ladder. There should be time for fellowship with our Savior and Best Friend, and for seeking His purpose for us. There should be time for reading a little one a bedtime story. Time for calling a friend just to hear her sweet voice. Time for gazing at the fire pit while sipping coffee and chatting with your husband.

We are meant to do our work, yes, and to do it with love and delight, taking pride in what we do. Yet God expects us to have time to pack up our kids' clothes that have been outgrown and give it to children who are in need. To stretch out our hands to the poor, as Mrs. Excellent does. He expects us to have time for compassion, no matter what shape or form that compassion takes. Whatever God puts upon our heart, whatever need we see that we can fulfill, stretching out our hands to the poor and the needy when it is within our power to do so.

That is the Lord's version of Supermom. A woman who doesn't seek the world's version of success. She doesn't need the world's approval. Her identity is found not in how busy she is or how much money she makes, or who she is in the world's eyes, but rather who she is in Christ. And she even makes time to reach out beyond her own family to "love thy neighbor." Sisters, I know we're all not there (neither am I), but that should inspire and challenge us!

God's success was detailed in Jesus' words, when He told us to, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:20-21 KJV)

We conclude this study with these words: "She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself: her clothing is fine linen and purple."

This is a woman who not only provides for her home as best she can, but she takes pride in her family and all is done with love. Again, our Father in Heaven takes pleasure in these things! The fine linen here is especially interesting. Fine linen is found in other parts of God's Word, and it symbolizes the righteous acts of the saints.

Revelation 19:8 speaks of Christ's Bride, the Church, saying, "She has been given the finest of white linen to wear, for the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's Holy people." (NLT)

"Purple" is said to appear an amazing 48 times in the King James Bible, and it represents royalty. The heroine of Proverbs 31, then, is the righteous--and loving and compassionate AND industrious!--queen of her home.

With that, we conclude this section of our study. Please check back for the next part of the Heroine of Proverbs 31. Until then, may the Lord bless you!

To view (or review) Part I of The Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To view (or review) Part III of The Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

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