A wife of noble character: when it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. Proverbs 31, verse 21.
This winter, I’ve written quite a few of these proverbials from the northern US. Specifically, since last fall, I’ve written them from either Michigan or Minnesota. If you’ve never been to either place, all you need to know about winter here is that it’s usually cold, bracing and snowy. In this part of the country, snow is usually measured in feet, and it’s a badge of honor to say you enjoy the winter here. I lived in Minnesota for nearly 10 years and moved away in 1975. After weathering winter in Minnesota, Michigan, Montana, Massachusetts and even Maryland, I’ll just say I’m thankful now to live in Texas.
Now that we’re safely into spring, it’s ok to say that this winter was the warmest in many years. It’s odd; it’s not what anyone expected. During normal years, people here don’t let the cold or snow slow them down. In fact, some aspects of life revolve around the winter. Outdoor sports like hockey, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing are the norm. That scene in “Grumpy Old Men” where they’re ice fishing? Yep: that happens on most every one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. But it didn’t happen much this year. The St. Paul Winter Carnival wasn’t as much of a success, and it was something of a let-down to not have so many days below zero. Talk to some of the locals and more than a few will tell you they’re disappointed that things were so warm; yesterday, on the first day of spring, it was nearly 70 degrees, and it’s supposed to be nearly 80 by the weekend. That’s unheard of here. It’s difficult to ice fish if the lakes aren’t frozen. Mosquitoes, already plentiful any year, will be thick this summer. And there’s a disappointment in the air at simply not having all the snow around.
Perhaps there are more than a few wives of noble character disappointed because their preparations didn’t go to full use. If you’ve been reading these messages, I think you’re seeing that one of the hallmarks of a wife of noble character is preparation. She uses her many talents to prepare for hard times. In ancient Israel (for that matter, in present day as well) a cold winter could be especially harsh. In that region, snow is rare but possible. The terrain and climate aren’t conducive to people thriving in the winter. If it snowed, it could be a real hardship, especially in a part of the world that isn’t far from where people really do still live as they did 3200 years ago. The wife of noble character wouldn’t be afraid of that or afraid for the ones she loved. They would be ready for the storms because she prepared. She clothed them and provided safe, clean shelter. Her pantry would be full; she would have money set aside if a need arose; she would have stocked up on fuel; warm, safe beds would be at the ready.
What’s more, the proof of all this would be in scarlet. The blood-red color of their clothing would be a sign of both color and affluent security. She could afford to dress her loved ones well in fashionable things instead of just the drab colors of mere sustenance. Wearing the bright color would be that badge of honor (something familiar to Minnesotans), like defying the cold weather and making a statement to it. It wouldn’t be cheap to provide such clothing to her family, but the woman who had prepared ahead of time would have been able to do so. It was a labor of love.
Are things any different today? No, not really. Most home-makers do their best to store up, stock up and ready up. I have yet to meet a woman of noble character who didn’t do her level best to provide better clothes for her family than she did for herself; when I’ve met women who didn’t, generally, they weren’t always of noble character. Whether it’s socking away money for a needy moment, or making sure your kids always have hats and gloves the wife, mom, and woman of noble character is prepared for the time when the snow flies. Or, if you live in Phoenix, change “when it snows” to “when the sun is blistering” and your clothes of scarlet may become flip flops and a swimsuit. Either way, it takes work, forethought and above all Godly love to prepare for the people you cherish most.
Up here in the (usually) frozen tundra, my birth-stater’s are complaining that there has been too much of that blistering sun and not enough of that flying snow. I’ve been thanking my co-workers for doing their best to provide us with a Texas-style winter instead of the usual Minnesota variant. Up here, I don’t have a wife of noble character; mine lives north of Dallas. If the snow flies, I’m stuck with the clothes I brought along. But that’s ok. I’m sure my wife would gladly pray for me…all while turning down the air conditioner in the car lest it get too chilly inside on a warm Texas spring day. She’s prepared me so I’m prepared myself. That works no matter what the thermometer says because the wise use of one’s time, talents and treasures is a gift from God.