The Proverbial Whale


Posted by Amy DeBurgh on April 7, 2019
The Proverbial Whale

The whale swims in the ocean because the ocean is big enough, not because the whale thinks its a good idea. This is the Proverbs. The Proverbs give us the way life is. Surely you may find instruction in the Proverbs in the same way an infant whale learns the ways of being a whale from his mother while following her all of the thousands of miles it takes to become independent of her. But she is only instructing him within the realities of how it is out there in the wide open blue. It is as if she says to him, “This is the ocean, it is your home. The more realistic you are about responding to it, the safer and happier you will be.” The Proverbs instruct but they do so in a unique way. Solomon says to us in similar fashion as our proverbial whale, “This earth is your home. The more realistic you are about responding to the way it is, the safer and happier you will be.”

Tell me this. Are you a beached whale? By that I mean to ask, have you been caught trying to defy the laws of emotional, psychological and physical realities? Have you swum multiple times to places you don’t belong because you have been told to “Dream Big” by people who ignore important rules of reality that teach us it would be better to “Dream average”? Have you grasped at too many things and gotten none of them done well? You don’t have to die on a beach where you don’t belong.

You might be the opposite kind of whale, wandering the same lagoon, starving for lack of squid available because you are afraid to move on. Are you longing for new places of spiritual growth but you are paralyzed by indecision or fear or both?

Might I commend to you a disciplined, daily meditation in the book of Proverbs? This book is teaching me to observe the realistic extremes of true life. As I push on the boundaries of what I read in the Proverbs, I sometimes find I can realistically try more or harder or newer things. Other times it slaps my hand when I reach out to grab something not meant for me. How does it do this? By letting you know that life has built in consequences and rewards. It has been so since the fall of humanity back when being naked made us run for cover.

Here is a practical example from Proverbs in a paraphrased form:

Proverb: Don’t question everything your husband does or he’ll wish he lived on the roof instead of with you. (Proverbs 21:9)

One may ask: Why have we grown apart? He doesn’t listen anymore. He used to care about my desires before I completely wore him out by announcing them and enforcing the satisfaction of them over the years. I just don’t understand.

The way it is: When I talk too much or offer my opinion too freely, people will seek a quiet place to get away from me. In order to be sought out for advice or for my opinion, I need to offer it less frequently.

Practical steps I will take: Listen, without speaking, all the way until someone is finished speaking. Ask them two or three questions about what they said. Don’t offer my opinion unless they ask. Write down my thoughts about what they said and wait a day or two and bring it up again. Thank them for their ideas.

A Proverbs reading challenge for you: Read through Proverbs (take as long as you like) and write down every verse that talks about natural consequences and their causes. Write the word “Ouch” in the margin when you feel the sting. When that happens, follow the pattern above.

Amy will be speaking at this year’s Thrive Women’s Conference, May 3-4.

Amy DeBurgh

Amy and her husband, Spencer live in Racine, WI, where he pastors Racine Bible Church.

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