“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” – Proverbs 6:6-11
You gotta love Proverbs for telling it like it is! Much of the Bible can be interpreted in different ways, but the book of Proverbs is still full of straightforward wisdom for today. I’m so glad my daily Bible reading schedule includes it, because it keeps me grounded when I might otherwise be tempted to dwell in lofty places, focused on abstract concepts like grace and faith. Proverbs is the drill sergeant throwing a bucket of water in my face and saying, “Wake up, private. Get back to work!” And speaking of work, Proverbs talks about that, too.
When my kids were really little (preschooler and toddler), I hosted a summer Bible study in my home using a video series called, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart,” by Elizabeth George. It was during this study that I first encountered the verses above, when they were mentioned during a lesson on being good stewards of our homes. For some reason, they stuck with me. When I would wake up in the morning and desperately want to go back to sleep, I’d hear the words, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit.” So I’d get up and start my day. It was probably at this time when I realized that in order for me to be the mom I wanted to be, I needed to be able to wake up earlier and discipline myself to take care of some household responsibilities. I recognized that this was impossible for me to do on my own, and began to pray that God would make me a morning person. And now, here I am at 7 a.m., typing this post before the kids wake up. God still performs miracles today!
So what’s the difference between prioritizing, like I mentioned in my post on housework, or just procrastinating? For me, prioritizing is necessary when we have lots of needs competing for our attention. For instance, this week I’m preparing to go out of town for a much needed winter getaway with friends – and no kids!! I’ve volunteered to gather the food and do some meal prep in advance, and I also told my parents I’d provide 3 dinners for them so they don’t have to worry about fixing my kids gluten free meals. These are all things that are important to me, so cooking will be a priority this week. Housework will not, because we’re going to have company the following week, so I know I’ll be cleaning when we get back anyway. I will most likely not blog much this week either, since my time will be focused on my kids and preparing for this trip. That’s prioritizing.
Procrastinating is when we have the time to do something, but choose “a little folding of the hands to rest” instead. Now, I’m not talking about resting when you need it. Last weekend I was flat out exhausted, and desperately needed to fold my hands and rest so that I could be an enjoyable wife and mom, instead of punishing my family by dragging them through the mud with me on my road to martyrdom. But when God first laid these verses on my heart, it was when I had the time to take care of my home and invest in my kids, but I felt entitled to pursue my selfish desires instead. Part of it could have been the backlash from how exhausting my kids were at that age, so I felt like I deserved to hoard every moment of peace I had. But God was saying, “Come to ME, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
God was – and is – calling me to find my rest in him; to trust him to give me strength. When we share a yoke with Christ, he is the stronger of the pair, and does the heavy lifting. That’s why his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He’s calling us to work alongside him on God’s priorities for our lives, and he promises to help us and give us rest. When we choose to trust God to meet our needs, and continue to do the work he’s called us to do instead of procrastinating, he gives us energy and renewal even on the longest, busiest days. At least, that has been my experience. And now, I need to get going on my day so I’m not using this blog to procrastinate!
(For more great verses from Proverbs and Matthew, join me in daily Bible reading. The current week’s schedule is always posted on the Faith tab above, and you can even read them online in different translations by typing the scripture reference at www.biblegateway.com. I’d love to hear what God is saying to you through these verses!)