Do you ever go to a family reunion or a potluck, and there is so much good stuff that you pick up a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Don't forget the mashed potatoes Aunt Betsy made that you have to eat so you don't offend her. Oh! There are those barbecue ribs Uncle Ralph says are the best ever. Have to have some of that. Then there is that chocolate pudding mousse thing that Sheryl only makes on special occasions. Can't pass that up. Who knows when you'll get a chance at that again?
By the time you finish adding all you want, all others say you should get, and all you get so no one is offended, your plate is overflowing, and the excitement you felt with your first glance has turned into a sense of dread as you look forward to the bloated stomach, tight belt, and indigestion later?
Crazy, isn't it?
The craziest part is the gratitude at the beginning of the meal has now because complaint. The food God gave to bless us is now seen as a curse. Why? Because we didn't know when to say when.
Today, my plate is full of blessings, but I feel the pull of temptation to load up a bit more. If I scoot this over and move this around, I can find room. It's all good. And, after all, what can a little bit more hurt, right?
Let's look at that "little bit more" that causes my head to turn and see what it can hurt.
My "little bit more" looks like a fiction book that I've had rolling around in my head for nearly two years. I worked on it a lot in 2008, but in 2009, it has gone by the way side. The fact is I haven't missed it much. I think of it periodically, but mostly, I'm busy with other things that I enjoy. In fact, I am completely happy without it until I see it on someone else's plate.
My friend Lisa Buffaloe shared the exciting news that her fiction book is headed to the publisher. I am truly thrilled. This is a book from God, and it is going to bless so many. My friend Amelia is moving forward with her book, and she has some interested eyes ogling it as well. I just finished reading Ruby's Slippers by Leanna Ellis, another friend. Understand. This is not about jealousy. These women are so gifted, and I rejoice that the Lord is blessing them and increasing them. It's just...I really like writing fiction, too.
Surely I could find time to work on a fiction book. Surely it couldn't be that hard to find the time, right?
Let's see. If I give up my Wednesday night fellowship time, that would buy me a few hours. If I gave up reading time with the children, I could get another 20-30 minutes a day. If I got up earlier, I could move my quiet time back. Probably won't remember it, but at least I'm doing it which means something will "stick in my spirit", so that's alright. Maybe instead of spending an hour and a half with my husband in the evenings I could only spend an hour. Wonder if I can figure out a way to spend less time on the co-op classes I teach, or maybe I could have the children do more workbook school and few projects and discussions for home school? Or, I could just give up cooking which would mean I didn't have to waste time doing dishes or going grocery shopping, and if I wear the same clothes three days in a row, that would cut down on the laundry, and if I...
...just lose my mind and don't care if I drive my family insane while cutting all my life lines to my support group...
It sounds absurd when I write it out, and most of us probably laughed at the craziness of it. However, every woman I know has had moments when she was tempted to add one more thing to an already full plate, and there is always the whisper, "What can it hurt?"
In Proverbs 31, we are told the woman of immeasurable value "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 (v 16, AMP)."
I love this. This woman of immeasurable considers the opportunity laid before her. Notice what she considers. She considers her present responsibilities. She thinks about what God expects of her in the season and place she is in. She does not think about whether someone will be mad or offended if she does not embrace this opportunity. She does not think about whether someone else thinks it is good or not. She does not fear that this may be her only chance at this field. Instead, she knows the Lord gives her what she needs in every season, including fields to tend for the purpose of yielding glorious fruit for Him and because of Him.
Because she doesn't embrace anything that isn't hers, she has time and energy to plant fruitful vines. These are not vines that will wither or languish because this valuable woman is spread too thin to tend them the way they need. No. This valuable woman knows her time and investments are valuable, so she only accepts what she knows she can tend well. Her vineyard will not be a straggly one, but one where the plants flourish, the fruit is evident, and the keeper is content. She will be known as one who is blessed.
Because she knew when to say when.
Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009