is installment #37 of the Proverbs 31 For The Average Woman Series. You can read more of this series by clicking on the Proverbs 31 Woman category in the right sidebar.

Robert Burns wrote a poem in 1785 after he turned up a mouse nest while plowing his field, and it was later referenced in John Steinbeck’s book, Of Mice And Men.

To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, by Robert Burns

But little mouse, you are not alone

in proving foresight may be vain

The best laid schemes of mice and men

Go often askew

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,

For promised joy.

We make many plans, but life has a way of disrupting our plans. When our plans go awry, or aft agley, as the Scottish poet said, the only thing we have left is preparation — the inner tools we possess that allow us to spring into action and react to life through the wisdom of God’s Spirit, like the wisdom of the Proverbs 31 Woman from Proverbs 31:18

Her lamp is not extinguished in the darkness and gloom.

Remember the story of the 10 virgins from Matthew 25 who were invited to a wedding, but when the wedding party arrived, five of them did not have enough oil for their lamps? They were forever labeled in scripture as the five foolish virgins because they weren’t prepared.

Now, obviously they were excited about the wedding, and had probably been making plans to attend for some time. They had probably taken much effort in deciding what to wear, and how to fix their hair, and had probably even polished their lamp to a gleaming sheen, but they still ended up unprepared, and their lack of preparation left them excluded from the celebration in the dark humiliation of being forever foolish.

So, what’s the difference between planning and preparing?

Well, planning is a boarding pass, and preparing is a diaper bag.

Can you imagine boarding a plane with an infant without taking a diaper bag? You could have planned a perfect vacation, made all the reservations, checked your luggage, and have your boarding pass in hand, but if you don’t take the diaper bag on the plane, you are woefully unprepared, and you will be labeled by ALL the passengers as THAT FOOLISH woman!

Preparation means you have the tools to meet the demands of the moment.

Our Proverbs 31 Friend kept her lamp ready all night. She was prepared for anything that would happen at night in the unexpected darkness of abrupt need. Back in those days, she couldn’t just flip a light switch in case she was needed in the middle of the night. And it is especially frustrating for a woman to feel that she’s not prepared, that she’s stumbling around in the dark, knowing she’s needed, but not able to react because she’s unprepared at a time of crisis and need. She just wants to act — to make things better.

Our Proverbs 31 friend teaches us that we should be prepared with our light, to extinguish the darkness, as we shine the light of our ministering help to those in the darkness of abrupt need — unplanned urgency.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Prov 19:21

But, don’t get all wrapped up in thinking that you can control every little aspect of your life, and that if you were just more prepared, everything would work out. . . that’s a sure pathway to misery. We can plan and plan, and it doesn’t matter. You cannot plan every detail of life.

Most of the things that catch us off guard, cannot be planned for,  but we can be prepared nonetheless. And how? By being filled with the Spirit at all times, realizing that in Him we live and move and have our being, knowing that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He will equip us for every good work. All we can do, is keep our lamp trimmed, full of oil, and ready. . . to be of service to the bridegroom when He calls.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and prepared for every good work (Ephesians 2:10, II Tim 2:21). And may you shine the light of His love in the gloom of darkness, as you pour out your oil of joy and anointing of peace.


p.s. And I know that’s not a mouse. It’s a hamster, but I don’t really like mice, and couldn’t bear to put one in this post. That little guy is actually kind of cute 😀

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