Proverbs 31... the one about the excellent wife who is up before dawn, still burning lamp oil while prospering the house at night, and doing amazing things in business, real estate, household management, making fine clothing, helping the poor, and making the heart of her husband trust in her in every way... always makes me a bit nervous. It helps to remember that she (probably) didn't do all these things every single day. And also she had those maidens to help her. I remember thinking when I had four kids, ages seven and under (and no older children), "That's it! I need some maidens around here! Where can I get some maidens?"
That chapter was part of my regular Bible reading today–so I opened the Bible to bookmark number 4, found Proverbs 31 waiting for me and began to read with a little sigh. I read all those things I just talked about and wondered if she was very likable (and yes, I know she is most likely a composite of a person, an ideal) or if she was the type of woman that other women stand back from with envious admiration mixed with a bit of fear of what she would think of them.
Then I came across a verse I don't remember ever seeing before. End of verse 25, and 26.
"...She laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."
The type of woman I always want to spend more time with.
That also reminds me of some other verses that have stuck with me over the past few months. Verses that make me want to have this type of mouth and tongue. I went back to find them in my journal . . . I have a little note with the prayer, O Lord, grant these to me! before a listing of these verses.
A gentle tongue is a tree of life.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.
For with you is the fountain of life, in your light do we see light.
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it.
And reading through those again today, I remembered that I was thinking about these tree of life and fountain of life verses during Thanksgiving weekend. And I found that I had recorded in my journal an image that formed in my mind of the beauty of these verses. An image of gratefulness and thanksgiving dripping from our cupped hands, merely holding up and giving back to God a tiny portion of that very fountain of life that we have scooped up... that He is providing.
And I found a prayer that I had completely forgotten. A prayer I wrote for me and all of us as mothers... the type of mother we want to be, but how can we be? This trait of the Proverbs 31 woman that I admire the most is one we cannot gain except as a gift of His grace. A mother with wisdom, with the teaching of kindness on her tongue, a fountain of life and a tree of life for her children by the mercy of God...
"...with gratefulness and thanksgiving dripping from our cupped hands. Our feet like roots standing in the stream of the fountain of life. Our arms outstretched against the winds that come, laden with fruit, laden with fruit. Our mouths speaking forth as a fountain of life. Grace held up in our cupped hands, overflowing and dripping back to the stream at our feet. A fountain of life is a gentle teaching tongue ~ making brave the fearful, making beggars and ragtag children into heirs of the King. O Lord make our desire be for your fountain of life! May we thrist for it as if death were near for lack of this fountain! May we not drink to our death, but to Life in You. By your Spirit, send us your gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Let me laugh at the dawn after sleepless nights. Show my hands and feet and weak knees how to work. And for my children, I ask that their souls be filled with your Spirit - a teacher and helper in all things. Let not one be darkness to your light. May they see light by your light. True. Piercing joy. Beauty seen and cherished. True beauty as in You. Loving Your glory and desiring to know You, know You, know You. O God, make me a faithful witness to these things ~ may I pour out my life to this task. Renew me though your everlasting living water, a fountain of life welling up and flowing out of my mouth in gentleness - a tree of life to those around me. Make this true of me and my Sisters, too. Show me what to shed and what to put on. In all gentleness, I beg. Amen."