It was nice to visit a couple of chapters from Proverbs this past week. Reading from the Book of Proverbs brings back some fond memories for me. When I first became a Jesus follower I knew very little about the Bible. I knew I should read it but I didn’t know where to start. Someone suggested I should read the Gospel of John and Proverbs. Of course I soaked up the wonderful story of Jesus in John; I was easily drawn into the very poetic rendition of the Good News. Then I moved on to Proverbs which equally resonated with me with its very practical verses of wisdom. Proverbs 3:5-7 in particular with, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight…” penetrated deep into my being. BC (that is, Before Christ in my life) I negotiated life’s pathway by my own wit and cunning which really did not work out all that well. Now, guided by the words I found in Scripture, I was becoming aware of a different way; one that is marked by God’s Holy Spirit and His Word. I knew that was the path I wanted to follow. Funny thing, by the time I got to the last chapter of Proverbs life and Scripture seemed to align in the most profound way as I was introduced to someone who embodied eshet chaiel (the ch is pronounced like your clearing your throat a bit). Of course, a little explanation is necessary here.
Eshet chaiel is a Hebrew term which means “woman of valor”.
It is presented this way in English, “An excellent wife (eshet chaiel), who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life,” (31:10-12). The very week I was reading these words a friend of mine set me up with a blind date. As a new believer in Christ I was resolved to trust God to arrange the introduction to my future wife. Instead of “playing the field”, as I was accustomed to doing, I was content to wait on the Lord. I was living with my aunt and uncle at the time and my uncle was concerned by the fact that I had become seemingly complacent in my social life. I remember the conversation quite well. Joe, my uncle, was trying to give me a pep talk to get myself out there. I explained my position from my new perspective in Christ. I said, “Joe, I know God has the right person for me. It may be tomorrow, or, it may be five years from now when he arranges that meeting but I am willing to trust him for that.” Just then the phone rang and I answered, “hello,” and my friend on the other end of the line responded, “Have I got a girl for you!”
Anthony explained that he and his wife had a visit from a friend of theirs, a new believer, who was looking to meet someone in the same pursuit. Thankfully they thought of me in that moment and decided to put us in touch with one another. Anthony gave me Kim’s phone number and I called her that night. I figured, at the very least, I would make a new friend; that was 35 years ago. We met on the phone. I loved her voice from the beginning. On our first date she was open and spoke her mind. Like a child free of all inhibitions, “Oh good, you’re not dressed up. I’ll get changed,” was the first words I heard from her when we met. And I thought to myself, “This is someone who is open,” no pretension; liberation.
We were married six months later.
I can tell you that Lemuel’s words from Proverbs 31:10 have rung true in my life, “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” Sure, Kim is not perfect, nor am I, but I can see the elements of the “woman of valor” (eschet chiael) shining through her. Granted, it is what I choose to see because she is God’s gift to me. Hallelujah! On our 25th anniversary I gave her a necklace that was crafted by an Israeli college student working her way through school. The necklace artfully displays in Hebrew eschet chiael. I jokingly told Kim that I alone was allowed to tell people about the meaning of her small silver and gold medallion. I reasoned that if she explained the meaning it would come across as self-promotion; something that does not register in her personality. So, in that light, I am telling you that is what she has been to me for these past 35 years,
Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
More will be said about marriage and its deeper meaning in my next post. Shalom