I pulled the bottle of wine from its hiding place between the paper bags and the refrigerator and tip-toed down the hall to my office, pausing in front of our bedroom door to make sure my husband was sound asleep. I latched the door behind me, turned on the light, and dug through the clothing in the closet for the treasure I’d buried there.
I’m a sneaky wife.
I’ve known since 1977 that my husband likes fruitcake. His eyes lit up every year when his mother brought hers out for Christmas. It was fine with me they enjoyed their tradition, but I’ve never liked fruitcake. I also have a strong aversion to alcohol, and when I learned her recipe called for embalming it with spirits, well, you can bet I’d never look for an occasion to make fruitcake. Never.
What changed my mind?
This year I wanted to give my husband a gift that cost me something, a gift created to please him alone, and not me. A gift only I could give—my love. And he’d celebrated enough holidays without his favorite treat.
After taking notes from family stories and scouring the internet, I chose a recipe, bought and hid the ingredients, scheduled the baking when I was sure he wouldn’t be around, cleaned up the evidence and stashed the cake in the closet like his grandmother used to do. Later that night I doused it with wine and hoped he wouldn’t smell it in the morning.
Love rules over all.
Love costs whatever I’m willing to pay, and I want to love him completely. However, since he was ill during Christmas and missed our family gatherings, he didn’t feel the extent of my love till several days later. That’s when I appreciated one redeeming quality about fruitcake—it’s longevity.
I ate one of the last pieces tonight so I could wash the container. The other piece is in his lunchbox for work tomorrow, but I should have given him both pieces. I love my husband, and surprising him was lots of fun, but I still have no desire for fruitcake.
It’s not related to diet and exercise, although learning this will require vigorous training and life-long practice.
“My son, pay attention to my wisdom… For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil. But in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it” (Proverbs 5:1-6 NIV).
Pay attention and “keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house” (verse 8). If I’m tempted to become entangled with a lying, unfaithful person, I must take a sharp detour the other way. Otherwise, according to these proverbs, I’m on a straight path to my death.
“At the end of your life you will grown, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, ‘How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction’… For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly” (verses 11-12 and 23).
My prayer is “Lord, remind me to always place a high value on truth, faithfulness and discipline, so I don’t take a shortcut to death. Thank you for teaching me your ways!”
Proverbs 5 shares a concept that I took to heart as a young teen. I saw the devastation of broken relationships all around me and I just didn’t want to go there. The teacher in this chapter of Proverbs helps his student draw careful boundaries to help him steer clear of sexual temptations.
Boundaries are a good thing.
Pertaining to adultery he warns “Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house.” Proverbs 3:7 NIV. (emphases mine) Further on he lists the results of wandering off the path – not a good place. I’m getting the picture of road kill right now, and I don’t want to be that.
Don’t miss the verses with promise and blessing if you stay within the boundaries. “…may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” and “…may you ever be captivated by her love.” I had to leave out the part about breasts, just because of my own sensibilities. But you get the picture.
I often refer back to the “In the beginning” scriptures for understanding mankind’s losses in God’s perfect creation. In Genesis 3 we see that Adam and Eve crossed the line and were tempted by the desire for wisdom outside of God’s boundaries.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6 NIV. (emphasis mine) They crossed the boundary and ended up deceived. This wasn’t the kind of wisdom they wanted at all.
The last verse I’ve pondered tonight in Proverbs 5 is “For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.” Proverbs 5:21 NIV.
I have to end with a prayer:
Lord, thank you for boundaries. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for speaking to us through your Word. I bow my unruly will to yours, and I ask you to help me stay in my boundaries. Thank you!