I am in the habit of sharing proverbs with my son from the book of Proverbs before he leaves for school. We read this one about two weeks ago and I can’t get it out of my mind.
Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27
If I showed up on a piece of land, there would be an intense sense of urgency to build a house! Otherwise, I would either be commuting daily to the new land, or camping on the land through wind, rain and heat. But the proverb says getting the fields ready — planting the fields — comes first.
I think it’s because seeds take time to grow. Plant the seeds first so they can be growing underground while you build your house. Then when harvest season comes around, you have a crop to harvest and the house too!
How does that apply to most of us in 2022?
My mind has been brewing on this principle of wisdom. The urgent matters in our life can consume our days. The bills need to be paid, yes. The bathroom needs to be cleaned, yes. The laundry needs to be done, yes. The lawn needs to be mowed, yes. But these are tasks that can be started and completed at various times and be completed in a matter of hours, or even minutes.
Other tasks take more time.
Some tasks cannot be rushed so you have to get them started. Students who are graduating from high school in May 2023 need to get the ball rolling and take the ACT or SAT exams in order to fill out college applications if college is their goal. If someone wants a job, get started and keep plugging away. Employment rarely comes quickly. Formulating thoughts and opinions takes time too. These blogs, for example, don’t happen quickly. I start writing and editing each Wednesday or Thursday. Sometimes I tweak a blog for a few months before it’s published, like the one I plan to post next week.
Relationships take time.
I could sit at my computer and grade papers, pay bills, write blogs and prepare for speaking events 24/7. But what about the people in my life? Relationships cannot be rushed. If we want to turn around in five years and have friends, we need to incorporate relationships in our lives today, prioritizing people ahead of the myriad of urgent tasks at hand.
We need to plant the field first.
All seeds take time to grow. We cannot rush the growth process. The only thing we can do is make sure seeds are being planted!
If we want the knowledge of God’s Word to grow in our hearts, we need to plant the fields — attend bible studies, do personal reading, and attend church to get those seeds in the ground of our hearts and minds so the growth process can begin and mature.
Cleaning the bathroom gets done, but after God’s Word.
If we want to know God better and invite Him into the details of our lives so He shows up strong on our behalf, we need to put in the private time of handing God our cares and concerns for loved ones.
Paying the bills occurs, but after prayer.
If we want meaningful relationships with people, we accept those invitations, extend invitations, and have conversations — not just texts.
The laundry gets done, but after people.
This proverb has reminded me to make sure my daily to-do lists are not just filled with tasks (building the house), but they also incorporate and prioritize the things that take time — the things that I cannot just snap my fingers and make happen (plant the field). After all, if we don’t get the ball rolling on things that take time to grow — or keep the ball rolling — nothing that takes time to grow will grow.
The proverb is correct.
We cannot allow the urgent matters to distract us from the things in life that cannot be rushed and need time to come to fruition. This means we may go to bed each night with less visible results to measure for the day, but it also means we will turn around in 5-10 years with the more important matters becoming visible…and the urgent tasks will have also gotten done.
Funny how that happens.
Picture Explanation: My friend who sends me really beautiful pictures sent me these from her visit to the Chihuly Garden in Seattle. She watched a small demonstration of how they make blown glass. The demonstration took 30 minutes just to create a tiny piece with a simple design. She can’t imagine the time spent doing the massive arrangements, and neither can I! Creating masterpieces like this meant someone prioritized process.
And happy birthday to my friend, Carol.
There is an online study of One Gritty Blink starting September 21 from 7-9 p.m. Click on the Oaks Ministries link below to view the trailer and consider joining.
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