Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Woman I Want To Be

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” 
Proverbs 31:30 (KJV)

I have a picture in my mind.  
I tried to draw it once.  
Unfortunately, I am a poor excuse for an artist, and it didn’t really turn out on paper 
very close to the image I could see in my mind.  
The picture is of a woman, on her knees, bowed in prayer, pouring out her heart to God.  
You can’t really see her face, just a sort of silhouette that shows the rise and fall of her lips as they move in continual, silent, rhythmic motion….uttering words torn and wrenched from the recesses of her soul.  
Her right hand is curled into a fist, and her left hand cups around it as the two together support her forehead.  Her stance is one of earnestness and urgency and intensity.  Delicate, curling tendrils of her hair that have broken free from the confinement of being pulled back fall gently on the nape of her neck and trickle softly down her upper back.  Every now and then, she stops, hangs her head, as if in exhaustion, wipes her beaded brow, catches her breath, then resumes the familiar posture. 

As I watch this mental, imaginary picture, I seem to hear her voice.  It is gentle, yet husky with the emotions that are continually mixed and mingled with its inflection.  I feel like an intruder entering sacred territory, standing on holy ground, yet I can’t seem to stop myself from the pull of being drawn closer so I can hear her every word.  Her image calls to me, beckons me, inspires me to be….just like her.  Something in her stirs up something deep within me…makes me long to follow her example.  I don’t want to miss anything she is teaching, so I keep moving closer.

She turns her face heavenward, and I watch the gleam of moonbeams falling quietly from the open window above her bed.  Their rays reveal fresh, wet, steadily flowing tears that follow a track down the sides of her cheeks.  Her words become clearer the closer I get, and suddenly I can make them out.  She intercedes, as if her soul is heavily troubled, for her husband, her children, and her own self as she begs God to give her more of a servant’s heart and to help her pick up her cross and follow Him.  I feel like I am in a holy atmosphere…afraid to move…or even breathe.  Like I’ve crossed the threshold into an unearthly realm into which few have dared to enter.  I leave her there; she hasn’t even noticed my presence…so enthralled is she in her reverence to Almighty God.  It is as if she is caught up into an atmosphere unknown and untouchable.  I stealthily tiptoe away.  I quietly close the door to my room and kneel down beside my own bed by the open window…and I begin to seek that place in which she was so engrossed.

Oh, to be like her!  This virtuous woman I have read about so many times.  This Proverbs 31 woman.  This woman “that feareth the Lord.”  She is perfection.  She is the standard to which I have made my life’s ambition.  She evades me so many times, in my quest to be her.  I find myself falling so short of her attributes, her diligence, her benevolence, her utter abandon to self.  I hear her mentioned so much these days…in songs, in devotionals, in magazines, even used to generate business and make profit. 

A woman wrote about her in the 31st chapter of Proverbs....described her to her son, King Lemuel…to a tee.  Who is King Lemuel?  Ancient Rabbinical commentators agreed that King Solomon and King Lemuel were one and the same man.  Assuming this assumption is accurate, and assuming Bathsheba wrote this passage, I wonder sometimes who she was thinking of when she wrote this?  Had the woman who wrote the words attained the level of virtue of which she wrote?  When I think of Solomon's mother, Bathsheba, I don't seem to equate her with the image portrayed in Proverbs 31.  Is that too judgmental of me?  Can't people change and grow and develop and make complete turnarounds?  Whoever she was or was not visualizing, we know “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” 2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV), so this woman IS attainable…her abilities, her selflessness, her intensity of character is possible to achieve.  Else, God wouldn’t have inspired this writer to paint such a vivid, desirable, beautiful portrait for us to gaze upon…and long to be like.
Favor is deceitful.  It rises and flows with the ebb of people’s opinions.  It isn’t dependable.  You can’t base your life upon the approval of others.  Today they love you, tomorrow you do something they don’t like, and they toss you aside like yesterday’s trash.  Does it really matter?  Should you really crave their favor?  There is only One you need to please.  The sanction, esteem, and admiration of others is as useless as a barren wasteland.  There is no profit in it.  At the end of the day, it just really doesn’t matter.
Beauty is vain.  Sure we all want to look our best.  We girls are that way.  We naturally long to be pretty, to be outwardly attractive, to look in the mirror and see a perfect, flawless reflection, to wear a size 8 and feel comfortable in it.  Beauty.  What is it?  How do you measure it?  Something one may see as beautiful brings repulsion to another.  Is it a safe gauge in which to measure one’s worth?  It is vain.  It passes.  Skin wrinkles, and the body changes over time and after birthing children.  So it really holds no lasting substantiality.  Again, at the end of the day, it just really doesn’t matter. 
“But a woman that feareth the Lord”….now THAT matters.  She matters.  The woman I see in my mind…the one who compels me to be better, to dig deeper, to try harder, to live holier, to pray more, to intercede for my husband, my child, my family, my nation, my friends….”she shall be praised.” She pleases God.  She is who I want to be.  I wish I could draw.  I wish I could convey on paper the mental image of her I have….so you can see her with me.  Maybe you have your own image.  Perhaps you see her yourself as you read about her in Proverbs 31. 
The ironic part of it all is this….favor is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord finds both.  True beauty, the beauty God seeks in each one of us, is the beauty of a clean heart.  When that abides, favor is found, and the needs of true happiness are met.  So, walk with me, my friend, as I search for her…join me in my quest.  To be that virtuous woman…that praying wife, mother, and friend.  Individually and together, we can make all the difference.

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