Last week was hard, for a number of reasons. The biggest one being sheer exhaustion. There are days I long for a holiday from my life. For me it’s uninterrupted sleep, uninterrupted conversation, and uninterrupted thoughts that I desire. Guilt free down time would be nice. A day with no fighting, no questions that only I can answer, a day when the only person’s problems I had to solve, and work I had to do, were my own ……
Do you find yourself doing that?
The thing my husband would like a holiday from, is our mortgage. He’d like a break from counting the cost of everything, a holiday from saying “No, you’ll have to wait,” or “No we can’t do that.” A holiday from making ends meet, from inching forward, from maintaining the buffer, just in case.
So Proverbs 6 this week is timely. It’s about being wise facing problems and it’s about debt.
What does it say to about removing a debt?
Go – to the point of exhaustion – It says, allow no sleep to your eyes, free yourself.
Well, at least we know we’re on the right track.
Debt is like a huge chain around your neck, it joins you to the person to whom you are in debt 24/7. You are never free of it. Mortgages in Sydney are insane. I am not sure what things are like where you are. I know my father always said, the rule of thumb was to make your mortgage repayment a fifth of your salary. In Sydney today for many, repayments are over half of a family’s income.
Proverbs 6’s advice is to go to the ant. Our house feels a bit like an ant hill some days, so I thought I might spend my 10 minutes this week finding out why ants are helpful examples to follow, and see if I can’t lift a little of my frustration, even if I can’t lift my exhaustion, for this week.
Proverbs 6:6 – 8 says,
“Go to the ant you sluggard: consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
- Ants are the perfect example of unquestioning obedience and working as one body. Each does his or her part in each season. They have one purpose, to serve the queen, to keep the colony alive. Sounds like a harmonious group. Ask yourself does everyone in the household know their purpose? Are they working in harmony.
- Ants operate according to the seasons. Ask yourself, what season am I in? What is my task in this season? Is it sowing, growing and weeding, harvesting or resting?
- Ant babies mature at different rates (a few weeks to one year), in well established colonies they move lavae around to the best conditions to speed up maturity. What are the conditions like for your maturing? For your family’s maturing? Ask yourself Do I need to change position? Do I need to help someone else change position?
- Ants put on fat in autumn to prepare for winter. Ask yourself, am I preparing well for the next season? Am I planting too soon? Am I rushing when I should be resting? Am I diligently pulling out the weeds before they choke the good plants? Am I feeding myself well for a long winter? Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”
- Ants sleep differently to us. Fire ants have been proven to power nap. The worker ant takes 253 1.1minute power naps in a day. The queen takes less but longer naps, adding up to 5 more hours sleep in a day. But never are those naps all in one big block. Do we need to think outside the box a little, sometimes on the way we think things need to be done? Perhaps a few more power naps would get me through. Ten minutes is enough, so they say.
- Ants don’t let their emotions get in the way of the task at hand.
- Ants don’t multitask.
- Ant just do their job, and somehow altogether it works.
I am not an ant, obviously but there is some food for thought.
The other verse I took comfort from after such a difficult week was the verse, that said, God too hates one who stirs up conflict v.19b. My 3 year old is no longer screaming, (Praise the Lord!) but it doesn’t mean he’s Mr. Perfect all of a sudden. He’s just found other ways to argue and complain. I was quite glad to read that it doesn’t just get under my skin.
It can seem like I am the only one taking the brunt of the abuse, so I was happy to read that I’m in good company in those moments. The next verse was also a vote of confidence v. 20 Do not forsake your mother’s teaching. In a tough, discouraging season, it is good to be reminded that my teaching is worthwhile.
For my son, “No” has never been in his vocabulary. Six months ago, I’d say, “No,” and he’d say, “I’ve got an idea….”
Now he is a little less diplomatic. I too find myself a little less diplomatic at times, particularly if the argument, makes absolutely no sense. On Saturday, he’ll say, “I don’t want to go to swimming lessons.” Even though his lesson is not until Thursday, he still expects to have a long argument about it. “It’s ok, we are not going to swimming lessons today,” is not enough for him. He needs to press the point for at least 20minutes. Sometimes I don’t know what to do. Do I listen? Do I try to explain the concept of the calendar? Do I train him not to argue and complain? It is exhausting being his mum right now, and yet at the same time, he is also more delightful the he has ever been. The trick is not being so wrecked by the arguments that I miss it, or am so annoyed that I say something that is not worth listening to.
During the arguments and complaining it is grating just to be there, it is wearisome to be the one with responsibility. If I had a choice I would walk away from the conflict, like the rest of the family does. So, Proverbs 6 is encouraging today. I think I needed it. I needed to be reminded that it is my job to remain worth listening to so that my teaching will not be forsaken. For me this is particularly relevant because my 3 year old is not the only one needing my teaching at the moment, I do not have the time to get all emotional, there are 4 other children who need me just as much, in different ways.
I am also encouraged that ‘the point of exhaustion’ is not to be shied away from. It is to be pursued sometimes, in order to reach a solution. I am also encouraged that doing things on automatic pilot, without feeling, like an ant, is also sometimes our best solution.
I take courage and comfort that the thing will get done if I just put in the work, the time, the effort. It was just nice to read Proverbs 6. It encouraged me on a day when I just wanted to pack it all in. It encouraged me to just keep going, keep plowing through, to be like the ant and not get too upset by it all. The season will pass, the debt will be paid and there will be another season with a different pace and purpose that follows this one.
I am glad I get to pray. I am glad Jesus says come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest, because today I am weary.
Be encouraged to keep coming back to Jesus, even when everything seems to be going wrong or badly. Be blessed and made wise by the word of God as you read it today.
Lots of love,