One who gathers food during the summer is wise,
But one who sleeps during harvest is a shameful child. — Proverbs 10:5 (literally)
Make hay while the sun shinesâ€”thatâ€™s smart; go fishing during harvestâ€”thatâ€™s stupid. — Proverbs 10:5 (The Message)
A wise youth works hard all summer; a youth who sleeps away the hour of opportunity brings shame. — Proverbs 10:5 (NLT)
It’s nice to be able to bring out a lesson and illustrate Bible translation at the same time, but take the time to compare the three translations. I would say that all are justified by the text. Mine is intended to give you the literal wording, but are you really sure what is meant? The Message and the New Living Translation are trying to get the thought acrossâ€”you have to work while the opportunity is there.
This morning I read a story from MSNBC.com about the young man who caught Barry Bonds’ 756th home run ball. Matt Murphy was in San Francisco by serendipityâ€”a slightly improbable set of circumstances brought him (a Mets fan) and his two friends to the park. Then came the moment. Barry Bonds hits that home run, and the ball is coming toward them. Nobody catches it on the fly. It bounces. Amir Kamal, one of Murphy’s friends watched it sail by, but Matt Murphy, he says, wasn’t there. He had gone for the ball. He grabbed it, and held it to his chest while 30 people piled on top of him. He held it there until the police and other fans pulled him out of the pile, still clutching that all-important ball.
Now I bet Amir Kamal is a great guy, but he gets to be the goat of this story, because he’s like many of us. He watched it all go by. Not everything in life can be planned. You can exercise self-discipline, work on a schedule, complete your major goals, but a moment of opportunity can come at any time. If you’re too tired, off the clock, or even so focused on your planned schedule that you miss that moment, it may not come again. At such a moment one has to forget how tired one is, forget about fear, and like Matt Murphy, go for the ball.
I’ve found this is often true with writing ideas, especially ideas for short pieces. They’ll come to me nearly fully formed, but if I don’t sit down and write down what I have immediately, I’ll lose them. If I try to force it later, it simply won’t work. But if I drop what I’m doing, get in front of the keyboard and write, I’ll have something good to work with.
I do want to warn any writers who are reading this, however, that this is not a substitute for disciplined, regular writing, nor is waiting for your big break a substitute for wise living. But I do believe that we will all have moments, generally many moments, when we don’t feel like working, when we’d rather watch TV or sleep, but if we make a move, it can make all the difference.
You may be wondering if this devotional is purely about secular life. It isn’t. At a number of conferences I’ve heard folks comment that there’s always something that happens after nearly everyone has gone that will be a special blessing for those who stay. The same thing happens at other meetings. We have a certain amount of time to be there, and no matter what happens, we have to get going on schedule. But God has something waiting for those who stay, wait, and listen for him.
There may be a guest speaker over the weekend. Now I know how terrible a thing it is to give God more than a couple of hours on the weekend. Those are your days off. They’re time to relax! But I’ll guarantee some of you will be asking your pastor, or you may even be asking me, â€œWhy can’t I get excited about God’s word?â€ And no matter how polite I am in the way I say it, I’ll probably be wondering where you were when a powerful Spirit-filled teacher was here for the weekend.
When God gives you an opportunity to learn, will you be one of the folks who watched the ball go by, or will you be under the pile of people, clutching your blessing to your chest? It’s your choice!