|Photo by Valerie Jones|
This week I am starting a new routine. Not long ago I posted about my Spring Cleaning during which I eliminated a certain number of items to reduce clutter in our home. In a similar way, God is leading me to weed out things that cause clutter in my relationship with Him. I always believed He wants me to live with purpose, with specific goals in mind. I am now learning that part of my purpose requires me to leave time and space to respond to His voice in the moment.
I decided I need a new routine to allow for my learning curve.When I am rushed and distracted, I don’t hear God speaking to me as I
walk speed through teachable moments. I find myself asking
God to use me and then I hurry out the door late, meditating on my to-do lists, trying to figure out when I will have the time, and forgetting to leave an anxiety at the feet
of Jesus. At the end of the day I wonder why I didn’t have any opportunities to
fulfill my purpose.
God has provided a beautiful example of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, and it is from this passage that I am shaping my new routine. Here are some of the attributes that I find particularly helpful:
(By the way, the Hebrew word for "virtue" means, “strength, efficiency, wealth, army”….)
1) The virtuous woman wakes up early (v. 15). As difficult as it is to wake up early, I find those days are my most productive days. When I am able to exercise, shower, do Bible study and get a little housework done before leaving for work, I feel like the rest of my day is icing on the cake. Recently, I have been waking much earlier than my alarm, yet because I go to bed late, I’ve ignored that call to meet the morning with expectancy. I believe it might be time to shift my sleep schedule since my most productive hours occur earlier in the day.
2) She willingly works (v. 13). The ability to be productive and fulfill your purpose starts with attitude. Instead of groaning when the alarm goes off, I need to be eager to see what God has in store for the day. I need to be ready to work, serve and give…joyfully…and remain in that attitude throughout the day regardless of what calls me to.
3) She strengthens herself in spirit, soul and body (v. 17, 25-26, 30). These verses touch on the fact that she fears the Lord, takes care of her body, and thinks and speaks with wisdom. It is apparent that part of her work during the day is spent on her well being. I know from painful experience how difficult it is to honor God and serve others when I am not tending to my most basic spiritual and physical needs. So as I build a routine, I must devote adequate time for personal prayer and Bible study, regular exercise, sleeping well, eating well and sharpening my mind with information about how to live wisely.
4) Her work is profitable (v. 16, 18, 22, 24, 27). From these verses we can see she is not just diligent but her work profits her family, her business and her community. It is very possible to be diligent in work that is worthless. And so it is important to seek the Lord about doing work that will bring a return, whether it is financial, spiritual or both. When I set out to do something, I need to assess the time, energy and resources I spend on it – am I fulfilling a purpose or just filling time?
5) She gives to those in need (v. 20). As busy as this woman is, she still reaches out to others. I know I tend to be blind to others’ needs when I am whisked away in the rapids of my own life. A purposeful day makes way for noticing other people and reaching out.
6) She is a blessing to her family and therefore is also blessed (v. 11-12, 28-29). The passage starts out describing how she is a blessing to her husband and it ends with a description of the blessings she receives for her fruitful works. I find the placement of these verses interesting. I know I am called first to be a blessing to my husband, and then, I will receive. My day should not be about selfishly seeking the blessings. Those things are added on to the faithful seeking the will of God. (Matthew 6:33)
7) Her lamp doesn’t go out at night (v. 18). It may seem like this woman never sleeps! But Bible commentaries seem to agree that this verse is more figurative than literal. More than likely if this woman is waking early, she is going to bed early too. But the fruit of her work remains day and night.
Her relationships are strong and lasting. She invests in things that yield continuous return (other people, a field for a vineyard). She is leaving a legacy of faith to her children. She makes preparations for the future. She has an attitude of joy and hope that is not quenched by hard times. Her virtue (strength) is enduring.
Being reminded of the joy found in this kind of life, and knowing the next steps God has for me, I want to make sure my routine is purposeful. I don’t want to waste time and opportunities to honor Him because of the “I don’t feel like it” excuse.
I’m starting tonight with an attempt at early to bed. Believing for some good updates soon! :-)