Like a ship, but in a good way (Proverbs 31:14)

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

Proverbs 31:14

Imagine someone would say:

“Hey, I just want you to know that I think you are beautiful and… you also remind me of a big ship!”

Uhhh. Pass.

Being described as a ship is probably the very last thing we’d like to be described as, right? And a merchant ship? That thing is HUGE! No thanks. Try again.

When reading our next verse in the Proverbs 31 series, we might be puzzled as to what that means. I sure was!

It wasn’t until this past weekend, when I went on vacation with my family, that it all clicked.

My vacation destination

As most of you probably know, I was born and raised in Puerto Rico.

For Mother’s Day weekend, I went to Culebra, a tiny island off the coast of Puerto Rico, with my family.

PuertoRico

 

Culebra is beautiful. It’s full of white-sand beaches and incredible scenery.

Flamenco Beach in CulebraFlamenco Beach, Culebra

You can’t help but feel small when staring into the vastness of the ocean, no land in sight. I was blown away by God’s workmanship.

Punta Soldado, Culebra

Punta Soldado, Culebra

Back in the day

IMG_8750
José D. Pérez, resident

We got well acquainted with some of the Culebra residents, and heard their stories. José Pérez, a resident who earns his living by making wooden toy boats, candidly told us all about being born and raised in Culebra — the challenges residents faced in the past and still do, as well as stories of his youth.

We learned about Culebra’s history, as well as the ins and outs of living in such a tiny island.

Part of this story involved a sobering discovery:  the U.S. Navy used Culebra as a testing ground for weapons and bombs for over 30 years.

To this day, you can still see the tanks left over by the Navy.

What does this have to do with the merchant ships of Proverbs 31:14? Bear with me — we are getting there!

Me like -- what you doing here, tank?

Me like — what you doing here, tank?

Before the Navy’s involvement, Culebra’s economy was largely sustained by agriculture. As more and more families were displaced from their homes and their lands subjected to testing explosives, agriculture began to die down until it became virtually non-existent.  It was never the same again.

Enter: merchant ships

Currently, there are about 1,800 residents in Culebra.

All the goods — medicines, food, supplies — are transported to Culebra from the mainland by ships.

These ships come in and out of the island every day and are absolutely essential.  Without them, residents would be left without supplies that they need for everyday life. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that these ships are currently imperative to the people’s survival.

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

Proverbs 31:14

You see — we are often so far removed from the circumstances described in the Bible, that it becomes easy to dismiss passages like this one. Yet, at that point in time, merchant ships were absolutely essential as well. They would bring goods that were otherwise not available. They also allowed people to sell the goods they themselves produced.

Merchant ships were extremely important, and, to this day, still are in some places like Culebra.

An indispensable part

If you ever thought that women were not important in the Bible — think again!

Proverbs 31:14 compares a godly woman to a merchant ship. This means that she is diligent to bring what her family/others need, even if it requires a difficult journey to do so. This makes her an essential part of the family.

This woman provides sustainment and nourishment to those around her. She knows that bringing the best is often a hard task, but desires to do so anyways. 

Family or not, we can learn from this woman.

As we follow in the footsteps of Christ, we can detect what is needed and bring sweet nourishment to those around us. This can be something practical, like food, or something in the spiritual, like prayer.

The good news? We are not left alone in this endeavor. He promises to refresh and nourish us as we do this!

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25

As I said before, I am by no means a full “Proverbs 31 woman.” However, I am inspired and encouraged that God left us practical, clear examples of what it means to live a life after His heart. I am even more encouraged to see that we are not at this alone. God is the one forming His character in us!

This is perhaps the most important part: God Himself is at work in us. His spirit is the one convicting us, shaping us and making us more like Him.

As we take even the smallest of steps towards living in a way that pleases Him, God smiles.

He gives so much grace and love in the process, that it’s almost worth it just because of that!

So, how do we become like a merchant ship? How is this practical?

We can ask Him for ideas!

We can ask: God, how can I bring nourishment to those around me?

We can ask for our eyes to be open to the needs of others, and for the way to be used by Him to meet those needs.

As we persist in prayer, He will give us ideas and provide opportunities so we can be a blessing to others. Count on it!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.

Ephesians 2:10

About Nathalia

I'm Nathalia, a 20-something living in Chicago, centered around Jesus, inspired by words and moved by others.

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