“She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.” Proverbs 31:16
“She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].” Proverbs 31:18
I’m a planner. I try to have everything coordinated just perfectly and prepared ahead of time so that I’m never caught off guard. This can be to my benefit, but also to my detriment.
The reason for my planning stems from a place of good intentions. I want to be the most faithful to and effective with all of the projects that I have going on, therefore I try to streamline the process as best I can. I plan ahead so that I will not leave anything undone or forget anything in the midst of so many things.
While I do believe that the Lord calls us to be efficient in this manner, there’s a difference in planning ahead for the future, and living for the future. We see a picture of this in the Proverbs 31 Woman. In verse 16b it says she is fruitful and able to make the most of her time and strength by being efficient with it (i.e. she is good at streamlining). However, in 16a it says she plans ahead for her future, but not at the expense of her present duties. Specifically it says she is not “courting neglect” of them. Wow. Isn’t that what I do when I have my focus on the wrong things? I’m flirting with and being romanced by neglect.
There is on occasion an additional problem in my planning process as well. Working hard on the things coming down the pipeline—even if they are something that the Lord has called me to—when they are not designated for that day is a problem. If they’re not something that the Lord has called me to in that moment on that day demonstrates a lack of trust. It implies that I am ultimately more confident in my ability to maintain control of the reins, rather than keeping them in the Lord’s hands.
If you think about it, all we need is what’s present before us in this day. That’s all we need to be faithful to, that’s all we need to be focused on, and that’s all that the Lord calls us to enjoy. If I’m busy preparing for tomorrow, next week, or however far down the road I think I can prepare in advance for (because trust me if I can do it in advance doesn’t matter how far away it is I will do so), then I miss the beauty of what’s going on right in front of me.
Think about it this way: if I am so busy preparing my bread for today, and tomorrow, and the next day that I don’t even get to enjoy the aroma of the bread baking and sit down and take to truly take time to savor each bite, then I miss out on the joy of the process. Likewise, by the time I get to the premade bread, it may nourish me physically, but it will be slightly stale and not nearly as delicious as the fresh bread was. By doing it my way, I missed the fresh both in the moment, and by planning too far in advance! Again we see this in proverbs 31 verse 18a which says “She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good…”
The same applies for our spiritual walk and the callings that the Lord has put on our life. If we run too far ahead trying to make what we’re doing today about what’s coming down the road, then we miss out on the growth and satisfaction that come from the fresh work that the Lord is doing in our life at the present moment. So certainly, like the Proverbs 31 woman, we should try to make the most of our work by being efficient. Let’s also remember to check our motives as we do. May we be faithful with what’s in our hands today, mindful of what’s coming down the road, but intentional to not make our planning an idol before the Lord’s provision and purposes.
I pray this speaks to your heart today!
1/ Do you ever struggle with trying to do more than what you know the Lord allotted to you for this day?
2/ How do you counteract the pressure to do more?