A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. Proverbs 26, verse 15.
In contrast to yesterday’s verse, this one definitely is NOT about teenagers. If you don’t believe me, let me ask: have you ever seen teenagers eat? In addition to eating meals, teenagers graze! It’s kind of like watching a one-person swarm of locusts descending on your pantry, especially if there are honey buns, Swiss rolls or Pringles sitting on the shelves. Teenagers (or at least those in my experience) are not sluggardly or lazy in how they bury their hands in the food bowl. With high octane appetites, most teenagers I’ve known have been anything but lazy in that whole hand-to-mouth action.
Let’s take this beyond food. What is this verse really about? I mean, the Almighty is free to give us advice about laziness and eating, but it’s eating at me that I don’t quite think that’s what it’s really about.
First off, it’s about giving up. I’ll admit it: I’ve been lazy. A look around my house shows both industriousness and utter laziness. I loathe ironing, filing things on the desk, yardwork in 95 degree heat, dusting, and cleaning windows. Looking a bit deeper, I’m also averse to confrontation, calling Time Warner to find out why they charged me an extra connect fee, doing a work document on spreadsheet data comparisons, deleting old recordings off the DVR, talking deeply about some things that have recently hurt me, and prayer. I pray quite a lot, but there are some things that I only pray about around the edges; I avoid them because the wounds hurt. So what’s my reaction? Like the man too lazy to bring his hand to his mouth, I give up. I just give up on them and walk away thinking that they’ll take care of themselves. You and I both know how that usually turns out. And we both know that I – and you too, when you do these same kinds of things – would be much better off to not give up, to keep in the game, and to open my heart and handle the hurts. More than that, if I open my heart and let God handle the hurts, then healing begins in earnest. If I do that, more than the furniture might get dusted.
Another thing that the verse is about is having blessings in front of you and taking them for granted. I see a pile of filing on my desk, but I don’t always see the blessing to pay the bills, have the desk, and address my responsibilities. The ironing piles up every week, but I tend to forget to be glad I have a washer & dryer (that are currently functional) that enable me to have clean clothes in good repair. Daily I let myself get wrapped around the axle of living in angst, but I quickly ignore the fact that God blesses me through my family, and that He blesses me by allowing challenges, situations, and even the hurt in my life so that I might learn to better rely on Him. He isn’t arrogant: He’s loving. I take that love, and I take all these things and more, for granted, assuming it will always be there. Mind you, nothing can take His love away; it IS always there. What may not be is someone’s acceptance of it. Nothing, not even Satan himself, can take God’s love & presence away from you or me…but we can reject them. That thought is too terrible to contemplate. I may not reject God in my life, but I do take Him and his grace for granted.
Finally, I read the verse to be about being at the table but not being in the game. Come on now, you know about this one too. You eat but you don’t enjoy the meal. You’re at work but you really aren’t ‘into it’ today. You’re sitting on the sofa, listening to your significant other but not really engaged in the conversation. You feel like you’re drifting, you daydream more than usual, you find yourself spending more time on Facebook and less time with your kids or your in-person friends or others. Shall I stop harping? Has one of these things resonated with you? They’re all examples of my life in just the last 48 hours; how about you? Could it be that you and I have been a bit lazy? Could we do with a little “High School Musical” advice and “getcha getcha getcha head in the game?” Or maybe some Shug Avery: “maybe God is trying to tell you something.”
Truth is, I believe He is.
I read this verse to be all these reminders and more. My Wednesday take on this verse is that God is indeed trying to tell us something: shake it off and walk with me. Shake off the laziness and follow. Be mine in the world by using those wonderful talents I gave to you! Don’t give up because I don’t give up on you! And, yes, getcha head in the game.
I’ll also read it as a reminder to put some more snacks in the pantry in preparation for the inevitable graze that happens when your teenage son comes home from school. In reality, there are quite a few good things in the pantry, despite the pleas of “there’s nothing to eat in this house.” In fact, I just bought a few more yesterday. My head was in the game for that; here’s to working daily to keep it in the game in better and more important ways.