Thursday, July 12, 2012
I remember several years back, when I was single a particular quiet time I had one day at my house. It was the first house I had bought and I loved it. It wasn’t in a particularly great neighborhood, but it was quiet enough and the house was big enough for me and the roommate that shared it with me. The front two rooms were carpeted with a thick, plush, forest green carpet. It was one of those things that you inherited with an affordable house and one of the last things on the list to get changed because money was scarce and it was in good condition. Though it wasn’t overly tasteful, I kind of liked it because it was soft and cushy, and most of all because it was mine. I loved sitting in the floor to have my quiet times. At that time in my life I read Proverbs 31 quite often. I really aspired to be that woman one day, she seemed like such a classy, “well put together” lady. Her proverb was where I settled that day to soak in the Word. As I read about her and how hard working she was, how prepared she was, and how generous she was, instead of encouraging me, it began to have the exact opposite effect. I began to tear up, and then found myself sobbing. I remember my conversation with the Lord that morning. Through my tears I told Him, “I will NEVER be that woman.” And like it was yesterday, I remember Him clearly saying to my heart, “How old do you think that woman is?” I started wiping tears away and tried to read the verses again. “Well,” I said, “Her children are grown, and her husband sits at the gate with the elders, so she must be fairly old, 50’s maybe 60’s, I’m not sure.” And the Lord said, “What do you think she looked like at 26?”
It was the first time I remember that the Lord spoke to me about the fact that we are on a journey together, and that He is still at work on me. I have since come to believe that when Solomon wrote those words in Proverbs 31 he was in all likelihood describing his mother, Bathsheba. He had referenced her in the previous nine verses, and then started to describe the wife of noble character. It makes sense that he was speaking of his mother, though it is not explicitly stated. There are those that disagree with this line of thought, but wouldn’t that be so like the grace of our God, to write the greatest descriptions of a godly woman about Bathsheba years after her terrible fall? Wouldn’t it be so like the grace of our God, to place her on a journey that gave beauty for the ashes left in the wake of her fall? Wouldn’t that be so like the grace of our God to place her on a journey that took her from the utter darkness of infidelity and its aftermath to being marked as the model for Christian women to follow?
And so the Lord showed me that there was hope for me. This godly woman that He was making me into was on a journey. What I looked like at age 26 was not the final picture, it was just a snapshot in a long reel of film that shows the journey of my life. The Lord showed me that day that I was much closer to becoming what He has designed me to be at 26 than I had been at 16, and that I was going to be even closer at 36 and 46 and 56. He showed me that this journey takes time and that one snapshot cannot tell the whole story. You must look at each of them in context of where you have been and where you are going in order for a moment or a day, or a phase of your life to have any meaning at all. If you take a snapshot today and realize that it shows your darkest hours, your worst decisions, or the most foolish direction you could have taken, and it fills you with the dread of knowing that it cannot be undone, then you must remember that it is so like the grace of our God to place us on a journey that trades beauty for ashes. It is so like the grace of our God to place us on a journey that takes us from utter darkness to being marked as a model for others to follow, and while these days cannot be undone, they can certainly be overcome, and knowing this gives us the power to take the snapshot of today and place it in the photo album that records our journey. We won’t leave it out of the story, because we understand that it will be the most fertile ground for growth that we will find. And one day, just like Bathsheba, we will wake up to find that all our snapshots come together perfectly to show us who we are in light of where we’ve been and where we are going, and most importantly, it will remind us of God’s grace along the way.