Today, I just want to focus on one verse from Proverbs 31. Seems that after the wife rises early she gets to work taking care of the day's business. Later in the proverb, we'll take a look at this woman's work outside the home. I've heard people use Proverbs 31 to convince people that all married women need to stay in the home, and to be honest, I don't know how they get that message out of this passage. I mean, this girl is fairly entrepreneurial, but we will get to that later.
But what I do see in this Proverb is a call to to family first.
She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family.
Andy and I are going through some training at our church so that we can be more effective partners. At the class we went to Thursday night, I was really fascinated by one of the questions asked on the hand-out they gave us. It said, "How does your relationship with your earthly father affect the way you see your Heavenly Father." Way to cut to the chase Austin Stone! The reason that they asked the question was because they're trying to ensure that each partner has a true understanding of the Gospel.
The true Gospel message is that Jesus Christ died in our stead so that we sinners could become children of God. We received sonship instead of damnation, and we didn't have to do anything but believe that His sacrifice was sufficient to accomplish this. His blood is the signature on our "adoption papers." Now God is Abba, our "Daddy." But human relationships can distort the way we see Abba. For so many people, disapproving, neglectful, preoccupied or abusive family relationships have made it difficult to see our Heavenly Dad as Someone we can completely trust. We might have a superficial relationship with family that looks okay from the outside but deep down, the wounds still ache and we have a hard time trusting.
I believe the root of the reason this woman gets up while it's still dark and then tends to her family is because she understands that God has entrusted her with representing Him to her children, before the rest of the world ever gets a chance. Think about the magnitude of that calling.
Children are so precious but so needy, and yet they can't meet any of those needs on their own! They need food, clothing, shelter, and lots of hugs and kisses. They need attention, approval, someone to tell them they did a good job. They need someone to discipline them when they've done wrong, and they need someone to teach them that the love they receive isn't based on the way they perform. But consider that Jesus told His disciples that they needed to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:17) We need to recognize that we are just as needy, and always will be. No matter how "self-sufficient" and "independent" we think we become, really, everything we have is given to us from God. But it's not just material things that we need. Even into adulthood, we so desperately need love, attention, approval, discipline and someone to teach us that the love we receive is not based on our performance. When we recognize our deep need for those things, we are becoming child-like in the way that Jesus was referring in Luke 18.
The call to family first is not because family is above God, or to be put before God. Family is not more important than God, and if it is ever elevated above Him, He is faithful to take it right back down, and usually that is a painful process. The call to family is all about God, it's because of God. It's the amazing privilege and responsibility of being able to reflect God to a human being before any other human being gets a chance. How precious and how challenging a calling!
Of course, in order to reflect God to another human being, you need to know Him yourself. And the Proverbs woman does. If we want to be like her, before we get the lunches ready, before we give the hug and kiss goodnight, and God help us! before we discipline- we need to know who HE is, how HE feeds us, how HE loves us and how HE disciplines us. If you don't know who He is, I really recommend you read the book of John. Jesus tells us so much about Himself and His Father's kingdom. Then read Matthew- more insight into our Abba and His kingdom.
Motherhood is both fleeting and continual. Fleeting because children grow up so quickly. All you moms out there- my heart is for you! I pray that you reflect His perfect love to your little ones. He will be faithful to help you! Your calling is so sacred and so serious. Cherish it, take nothing for granted. What you do makes SUCH a difference! But also continual because we are all always children. Whether your children are 5 or 35, they still need to see Abba through you. And if you don't have children, oh my goodness, there are so many out there who have never even been told that God wants to adopt them into His family.
A last word on this verse, ladies- the Proverbs lady has been called to feed her family. Of course, this is a literal call. Which is why I've got to go to the grocery store later. But it is also so much a spiritual calling. Those fruit of the spirit ought to be growing in you so that your family can eat them. Here's a challenge, if you'll take it. Ask your children what kind of fruit they are "eating" from your life- if they're old enough to understand. Ask your husband, your mother, your sister, your brother. Are you able to satisfy their hunger for patience, peace, joy? Are you kind? Are you generous? Are you self-controlled? What are you really "feeding" your family? Will we all take a moment, before the grocery store, or on the way there, or while we're cooking dinner or somewhere in between, to ask God to cultivate the spiritual food our family desperately needs and to represent Him in truth to the precious ones that He's given to us before He's given them to anybody else.