For a long while the idea of the “Proverbs 31 woman” seemed a bit mythological to me. I mean, her “lamp never goes out at night?” Does this woman ever sleep?! Unless she has a lot of babies one after the other, then I can understand the conundrum. My lamp has been burning going on seven years now between a child with sleep apnea and another with frequent nosebleeds.
“Who can find a wife of noble character?” the writer asks. If you look in the right places you will find her. Well, at least glimpses of her. She is not an instantaneous wonder. She evolves over time- in the back-breaking, wisdom seeking, truth believing, knee bending worship of her Lord. But this happens “all the days of her life,” not on day one.
Travis read Proverbs 31 when he proposed to me, and of course I was flattered and swooned, not necessarily because of what he read but because he was on one knee and there were candles and a ring. I knew I wasn’t ready for such lofty descriptions. I had not earned the praise yet. I still haven’t.
And yet I see the Proverbs 31 woman pop up in the church in various ways. Sometimes she is industrious, running a business. I see her in women who serve the poor in the community. Other times I see her planting a garden or tending to chickens. She makes things with her own hands and sells them. She is thrifty and knows how to provide food and clothes for her family from what she earns. She laughs. She is wise. She is busy, never idle. She fears the Lord most of all.
And this is the point. It is not that a woman who does all the things is to be praised. It is the woman who fears the Lord who is to be praised, and only then will her works “praise her in the gates,” meaning that only then will her work truly matter. Because it is not about what we do, or how much we do, but how we do what we do.
I’m leaning into this presently. There are a list of things I would like to do, and in an idealist version of myself believe I could do, but the truth is that only when I do what I am supposed to do while fearing the Lord will my work be fruitful and praiseworthy.
Whatever we set out to do in 2018, though it may not seem lofty or praiseworthy, if we fear the Lord above all we will do well. And what does this mean- to fear the Lord? It means repentance, praise, thanksgiving, forgiveness, devotion, meditation upon God’s Word, and humility. It is the beginning of wisdom. We start here. Not with a set of resolutions or a planner with all the plans, but with the fear of the Lord. Then and only then will we know that our work matters, whatever the work is. Because it is not about all the things we do, but how we do what we do and for Whom we work and give the glory in 2018 and every year that follows.