The precious possession of a man is diligence. Proverbs 12:27
I’ve long loved this verse. As a girl with a lotta gumption, but not necessarily always the girl with the outcomes she imagined that gumption would get her, this verse is a comfort to my ever-trying soul. What is precious isn’t always the outcome, sometimes it’s just having diligence.
While our little one brewed in my belly, I prayed the Proverbs over him. This verse I took special delight in praying for him. As I lifted my request before the Father, I imagined all the ways he might need diligence as a young person. When he was born, he had life-threateningly low blood sugar, an irregular heartbeat and breathing pattern, and his temperature started to drop way too fast so he was unexpectedly whisked off to the NICU. They pumped him full of sugar via an IV to stabilize him and monitored him closely. The experience was more than a little scary even though we had been assured the condition was fixable and not permanent. Because his little system needed food fast they put him on formula immediately. After that, they gave me ten minutes every feeding period to try to nurse him. Ten minutes for us to figure this thing out just wasn’t cutting it. As soon as he got close to me, he’d fall asleep. (And a couple times I did too!) He liked to snuggle, but he wasn’t nursing. For a mama who prefers the au natural route (a lesser degree of importance to stabilizing his health, but still a factor in the ordeal), every necessary measure was one that made me cringe. I was grateful for the interventions, but lamented the fact that we needed them and how I knew they would impact things. Nursing would end up making both of us more than cringe. It was incredibly difficult post NICU. As I sat there with my little man who refused to nurse, hour after hour, day after day, week upon week, lactation consult after lactation consult, I prayed this verse over him, thinking, “I had no idea you’d need a diligent heart this early in the game!” And I prayed that verse for me too. Diligence eventually won out. Diligence and heaps of grace!
While this little story comes from my most recent personal experience, and I realize most of you aren’t in the same situation, there’s not a one of us that couldn’t use a dose of diligence for something in life. Could your marriage use a fresh wind of diligent attention? Maybe your finances need some diligence? Maybe that dream you feel God put in your heart could use a little more diligence? Maybe your child isn’t an infant learning to eat, but there’s an element to their life or your relationship with them that is disheartening. Pray diligence over them and over you. Pray diligence into your marriage, pray it over your finances, over your dreams. Pray it over any and every area of your life.
We don’t have guarantees over what fruit our labors bring. In fact, the last few years my resolve has been shaken as quite a few places of diligent, heart-work came back with nothing less than shattering results. But even as I look back over those efforts, I know they weren’t lost. God doesn’t waste anything. And I have the peace of mind that I tried and gave it my all. But if I hadn’t been diligent to the best of my ability, guilt and what-could-have-been questions might have owned me. Diligence is indeed a precious possession. It’s the key that unlocks emotional shackles so we aren’t possessed by all the what-ifs or if-onlys in life. May God grace you with His patient diligence for whatever faces you today.
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But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5
This is a favorite passage of mine. And having just stepped into the adventure of mommy-hood, it’s a verse I’m relying on daily. No, scratch that. Moment by moment.
Speaking from this most recent experience, I’ve learned that wisdom for parenting is somewhat of a touchy issue. Every mom wants to do a good job, so I’ve noticed that when one mom manages certain parenting issues differently from another, it can stir up those moms’ insecurities and bring out some interesting sides to people. If, for example, one mom sleep trains and another doesn’t, since they both want to have made the best decision for their precious little one, they might get defensive toward one another.
As I’ve sought out mommy wisdom I’ve noticed this phenomenon. And when I’ve handled certain aspects of our son’s infancy differently than some of the moms around me, I got some interesting responses. Nothing wild or super negative. I just noticed how quick other moms were to pass commentary on our decisions without knowing our reasoning, or in some cases, that it was doctor directed. Finding a source of wisdom without reproach isn’t something to be taken for granted. And our Father graciously promises to be the source of generous and gracious wisdom.
Whether it’s wisdom for parenting, marriage, life decisions, financial issues, relationship navigation, or simply your daily schedule, God promises wisdom when we ask. In our information-saturated culture we have endless sources of “wisdom” we can turn to. And while we can pop open a parenting magazine, search a website for financial direction, or find a TV program with relationship advice, none of those sources of wisdom take into account each of our individual circumstances. My aunt (and a few other wonderful moms) have encouraged me to hold parenting philosophies loosely because there’s no other parent in the world just like me, or just like you. And no two children are exactly the same. So while we can learn great concepts for life from books and others more seasoned than us, ultimately the wisdom from Scripture and specific ways the Holy Spirit prompts us to apply those truths to our life is the only source of wisdom tailor-made for us.
It is a precious truth to rest our weary minds and hearts in to consider that the Lord will graciously, generously, and without the tiniest hint of reproach give us wisdom for our lives for whatever lies before us.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting “Wisdom Wednesdays” and journeying through Proverbs, the book of wisdom. I hope you will join us!
A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding draws it out.
Proverbs 20:5 NAS
If there’s one thing I’ve seen stifle effectiveness in my own life and in the lives of others, it’s unresolved issues. Sometimes our issues become so loud in our minds and hearts, we can’t get “us” quiet enough to receive from God or be of use to Him in the lives of those around us.
The Lord taught me this lesson in a way He knew I’d never forget. In high school we had a Christian club that met at lunch. One of the students had a pro football player at her church and managed to get him to come speak. We bought pizzas, announced our fancy-schmancy speaker and had the best turn-out ever. Our football player shared about his life before and after Jesus. It was a glowing event for this handful of high schoolers to pull off with little help (our school administration was decidedly unsupportive of the club, but legally we were allowed to have it, so we tried to be effective and respectful witnesses). As I picked up used plates and cups left over from the pizza feast, a girl came up to me and said she wanted to believe in Jesus and His offer of salvation. But...the biggest, hardest “but” I’d ever heard followed next... but she’d experienced some painful, traumatic events in her childhood that made her feel that God didn’t love her, see her or care. Her feelings crowded out the little bit of faith she had to believe in His love and salvation. Her words touched a nerve too close to home. A place of entirely unresolved pain. She said, “If you can explain how it is God could allow that to happen to me and at the same time how He could love me and save me, I will give Him my whole life right now.” I couldn’t explain. I prayed. But I couldn’t explain because I hadn’t let God touch the place in my heart that needed that same explanation. I told her honestly, I don’t know how He could allow it, but that He did love her and she could believe and be saved. She said, “It’s not enough” and walked away. I turned away as tears of too-many emotions welled in my eyes. I cried for both of us. I’d been part of the event planning team. We’d prayed for hearts to be turned to Jesus. But at that very moment, I severely lacked the understanding to make our prayerful planning a reality. Why’d she have to ask me? Why not someone else, someone who could have answered? Who didn’t have my issues? That moment God grabbed my heart and we began the journey down the path of healing. I couldn’t let those issues, my issues, be a stumbling block to someone else. I’ve prayed for that girl for years since, and in my heart I truly believe that if God went to the ends of the earth for me, He won’t let my mistakes get in between Him and another one of His children. I so very deeply hope that the seeds of longing for a relationship with God in that girl took root and blossomed. That day was probably a step along her journey to Jesus, but it was also the beginning of a journey for Jesus and me, too.
Whether it’s answering the hard questions, or simply processing enough of life to draw out dreams/plans that God has placed deep in your heart to bring them to fruition, processing life with your Maker will only bring blessing and peace to your soul. We need His wisdom, understanding and perspective to fulfill the purposes and plans He has designed us for. We can plan to be used of by the Lord, but if our issues trip us or others up because we don’t have the Lord’s understanding over a matter, we won’t be as fruitful. We might have dreams and plans for great things, but without His understanding it’s very likely we will miss a valuable facet of His intention for us.
As you press into the Lord this Summer, take purposeful steps to plan and process with Him. Make your plans for this sweet Summertime and the upcoming Fall with Him, pray over how you spend your vacation, and if you’ve got unresolved pain in your heart seek His perspective over it.
Here's a free pdf. download of journaling prompts to get your started on processing everything from dreams to disappointments with the Lord.
Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” Exodus 3:5-6
I am a barefoot girl at heart! Often, when I am setting up for an event at church I like to kick off my shoes. It is not unusual for me to get a few disapproving glances or comments. I am quick to respond with the above verse and a remark about how the church is holy ground too!
All kidding aside though, it is something to wonder about this whole taking off your shoes thing because the ground was holy. I wonder if Moses’ shoes might have represented something less than holy because of all the less than holy places Moses had walked.
Figuratively, our shoes tell a story. They tell where we have been, the trials we have endured and the races we have run. So maybe God was requiring a clean sweep in Moses’ life. He would have to forget all the previous ways he had walked and follow this “burning” call on his life. Or perhaps it was a humility issue. My husband feels that it is a very humbling thing to take his shoes off in front of people. I think he feels like it exposes him. Either way, God had an appointment with Moses that required him to remove something.
If God were to show up at your door today, what do you think He might want you to take off? Would He want you to take off a critical attitude, arrogance, unforgiveness, a habit or a secret sin? Regardless of what He might ask of any one of us, the point is that after an encounter with God Almighty we should never again walk the same as we had before. I am praying for the Lord to meet with you today in a way that would change your walk forever as well!
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