Yep, that would be me. Now before you start to think this is just another blog on trusting in God to be our strength when we are weak, keep reading. You are wrong. Although it is true, God is our strength when we are weak, that is not my point today.
A couple weeks ago I was struggling to like myself even a little. I felt like a failure at all I put my hands to: this blog, my Bible study, counseling, housekeeping, eating right, child rearing…do I need to go on? The word that kept running through my mind was “inadequate”. The only thing I felt good at was failing. Yes, picture Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh but looking like me. Ever find yourself there? Oh, bother… where did my tail go?
So I have experienced these occasional states of “woe is me” before, I knew what I needed… ice cream with a big spoon, cosmic brownies and HGTV… no? No, I have tried that route before; I know it leads to feeling worse in every way.
I was well aware that I needed God and to hear from his Word. I read through chapters like Psalms 9, 16, 18 and 139, Hebrews 13, Philippians 4, 2 Corinthians 12, the list goes on. After soaking in God’s mighty Word did my rotten feelings lift and was my joy restored? No. They didn’t and it wasn’t. I still felt like my miserable self.
How can this be? Isn’t God’s Word all powerful and uplifting? Yes, it is. Aren’t God’s promises always reliable and rock solid? Yes they are. Isn’t God supposed to be our refuge and shelter? Yes, he is.
Here is the truth. My feelings, good or bad, do not heighten or lesson the Word of God. I have walked with God long enough to trust him no matter how my physical body feels. I cling to his promises more than I cling to my emotions of the moment.
Am I really inadequate? Well… yes. But I don’t put my trust in me and my ability to succeed or fail, I trust in a God that is more than adequate in every way possible.
This is what God wants from us and the lesson he wanted me to understand that week. Our obedience to what he calls us to is not dependent on how we feel or what we are going through. We read and trust God’s Word because we have faith in the one it is all about, Jesus Christ.
I don’t read my Bible just to feel good and I don’t stop when I don’t feel good. I read it because it contains the words of life and truth. Like Peter said to Jesus when the huge crowd deserted him after the difficult teaching he gave, Jesus turns to Peter and asks “Do you want to go away too?” Here is his response: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68.
Why would I look anywhere else? Only God’s Words have the power to save me. I knew all that I read was doing a work in my heart even if I could not feel it at that moment. Isaiah 55:11 – “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
I have kicked old Eeyore to the curb; God has graciously and patiently restored my ability to identify in him. No matter how wonderful or rotten I feel, I will always trust in the goodness of God. Like David I will proclaim Psalms 13:5&6, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Full. Always full. The arms of a mother are full of sippy cups, dish rags, toys, laundry, shoes, books, mystery gunk, blankies, sports equipment, groceries, or the kids themselves. Full at any given moment and at any given time.
The rare moments when our arms are free, our minds are full. To do lists run through our heads along with questions like “How can I magically transform a pound of hamburger into a decent supper?”, “Will a few minutes in front of the TV screw up my child?” and “How long until nap time?” Oh the crazy times of mothering!
So during these years when your time (and energy) is being taken over by young ones with their demands and needs, are we allowed to take a hiatus from growing in God and being useful for his Kingdom? You know my answer of course… no! For you Moms who find yourself in this season of life, I want to give you three areas of encouragement to hold on to today.
1.) God is with you. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalms 1:2
You may feel many days that “quiet time” with God is impossible. You can’t get away from the demands of your day and those around you to spend 30 minutes in the Word like you feel you should. Good news! God is not only present in quiet times but also in the wild, noisy, and even chaotic times (see Hebrews 13:5)! He is not frightened off by crying babies, grumpy toddlers or moody teens. Praise God for that! God is never far away. When you belong to God, his Holy Spirit dwells within you and will never leave you (read John 14:1-17). Learn to appreciate his presence even when times are wild.
Need suggestions? Pray out loud, worship and praise God with singing, grab your Bible in the morning and memorize one line, think on it throughout your day, or listen to the Bible or a sermon online. Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles Wesley) was a mother of 10 children yet she spent two hours a day in prayer. How? By flipping her apron up over her head. She told the children that when they saw her apron up she was in prayer and not to be bothered. She could not remove herself from her duties but she could still focus on God.
2.) God is growing you. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water…” Psalms 1:3a
Trees are one of God’s amazing creations. You can’t see them growing but they are. Over time, if they get all the water and nutrients they need, they become tall, full and beautiful. That is what God does in your heart during the years of motherhood if you are his. He grows you little bits at a time over many years (“from one degree of glory to another” 2 Cor. 3:18). You won’t realize all he has done until you look back and see the changes yourself. God is amazingly gracious to us and he values us far more than trees.
Too many moms make the mistake of thinking that their purpose in motherhood is to produce godly children. That is a great goal, but only God produces anything godly. God’s purpose for you in motherhood is to produce a godly woman. He allows you to experience so much during motherhood to mature you in him. Does this mean that God allows sickness, disabilities, and defiance in our children to grow us toward him? Absolutely! Is God behind the sleepless nights, skinned knees, and picky eaters? If you believe in the sovereignty of God he is! Things we often see as “interruptions” in our days (or nights) are often God taking the time to teach us and asking us to grow our roots deeper in him (our source of living water).
3.) God is what it’s all about. “…that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither.” Psalms 1:3b
We are creations of the Master Gardener, made to magnify his greatness. It is to this end we live, breath and raise others to do the same. Make no mistake; this life is not about you. Rejoice in that fact, if it was, we would be sorely disappointed. God has filled your arms to overflowing so that your hearts could also be filled to overflowing with all his goodness, mercies and love. He continues to prune and fashion you into the masterpiece he desires you to be and one that will reflect him beautifully. Trust God in this.
Mothers, today whether you find your arms full of sweet cuddles or a battle of wills, know that God has great purpose for each of these moments. After all…he has you in his arms.
When I was a little girl there was a jewelry store in Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids that had a large glass bowl full of little red, circular pins. These pins had the words, “You are Loved!” written in white on them. They were free for the taking and I often grabbed a few out and pinned one to my shirt to wear and gave the others out to family or friends.
Now, I realize that this was a marketing ploy to sell more jewelry and attract customers in to their store (not penniless kids like me) but I just couldn’t resist that message of love. I believe all of us long to feel truly loved and loved forever.
As we near Valentine’s Day, I want you to feel loved. No, let me change that. I want you to understand that you are already very loved. And if you have Christ, you have been marked with an irrevocable seal far better than any little pin on your shirt that I could ever give you.
The Bible tells us Christians that we are loved thousands of times in thousands of ways. The entire Bible is truly a love story written for us from beginning to end. It is a story of being lost, empty and without hope until a Savior finds us, fills us and promises to keep us with him forever. The love we receive is undeserved, unfathomable, and irrevocable.
The love found in the Bible can be summed up in one name – Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is God’s love manifested in flesh and sent to save the unlovables of this world - us. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
The only way to ever have love or feel loved is to have Jesus Christ. There is no separating the two. God is love, he doesn’t contain love or just show love, he IS love. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8).
The only way to love others is to share Christ with them. You may offer a hungry person something to eat, but if it is not done with the love of Christ it is worthless. That person will still die of starvation, a spiritual starvation. Offer them tangible bread to eat and the Bread of Life so that they will never hunger again (John 6:35). That’s how you love others, you show them Jesus.
I told you this is a forever love and it is. Romans 8:38 &39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nope, once you have Christ, nothing separates the two of you ever again. That’s a secure relationship!
If you feel this is all “old news”, you know Jesus loves you and died in order to save you and yet you don’t feel he really knows you or is near you, let me introduce you to Psalms 139. Read it, I mean it, go read it right now! You will see just how intimately God knows you.
God’s promises are rock solid, but I can’t believe them for you, you have to trust them for yourself. Allow his love to soak into your life and satisfy you fully.
Now here is one of the awesome parts… we have been permanently marked as belonging to God forever. Think of it as a permanent “I am Loved!” pin on you. This promise is found in Ephesians 1:13 & 14, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
You may not be able to see it but you are walking around with a big seal on your body saying you are the eternal possession of the eternal King of Glory. Wow, talk about being loved! That’s you my friend. Rejoice in the love of God that is written all over you forever.
There is currently a group of local men serving God in India in the name of Jesus Christ. I praise God for their obedience to this call and their desire to spread the Good News to the lost. I have been thinking a lot about the wives that have been “left behind” here at home, mostly because a few of them are close friends of mine.
I tire of hearing myself and others tell them that they are a part of the mission team because they are supporting their husbands and allowing them to “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:20). I do not want to minimize this fact, it is very true. And, yes they will receive blessings as being senders of those who spread the gospel, but there is much more to it than that.
The same God that is 100% present with the men in India is also 100% present with these ladies at home. As their men packed up and jumped on planes to carry them thousands of miles away, I imagine God was saying, “Alright, Daughter, let’s do this thing! I have so much I want to teach you and so many ways I want to grow your faith in Me during this time!”
These two weeks may give them a break (or not)from making big meals, doing extra laundry and cleaning up extra messes (sorry guys, but you know it’s true) but it is not a break from growing in depth of relationship with their Heavenly Father. Any change in our mundane daily life routine is a great opportunity for testing and learning more about what is truly in our hearts. Yes, it can be a time of refining but also an exciting time of putting into practice what God has been training us for.
During this time on your own God may make you face some pretty tough questions: Am I living as if God is truly sufficient for me? Do I believe it when I read, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)? When things go crazy and I feel alone, do I turn to “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction” like it tells me in 2 Corinthians 1:3 and 4? Am I prepared with God’s Word to fight the Enemy when I feel the attacks of anxiety coming (Ephesians 6)? Am I humble enough to ask for help if I need it (Galatians 6:2)?
Ladies, this time can provide moments of amazing intimacy with your Savior. A time of building yourself up in love and trust of Him using His Word as your rock.
This is also a great time to test your “Powers of Oneness” (yes, I made that term up, but it fits : ). It can be easy to feel like “one flesh” when you are in close proximity to your spouse, but how does that work when they are on the other side of the world? Does the distance negate or lesson the connection? Not a chance!
Does God say without reason, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”? Jesus confirmed and repeated this statement in Mark 10:7-9 and added, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Your “oneness” remains. So how do you plan to keep this connection strong and continue to be a suitable helper to your husband even while he is away? Prayer is the best answer. Praying for your spouse is powerful and one of the best ways to love your husband. Have your children pray for their father and family leader as he leads from another location. Continue to honor him as the authority of your household by the way you make (or delay) decisions and in the way you talk about him to your children and others.
Actually it is quite awesome to think of your “one flesh” being on opposite sides of the world and yet acting with one shared desire to glorify God.
Be sensitive to nudgings of the Holy Spirit. When life sends you “interruptions” see them for what they truly are: God’s sovereign hand intervening for a reason. Whether it is being up in the night with a needy child or a case of insomnia at 3:00 am. God has a plan for your heart and attention no matter what time of day (or night) it is. Worship him wherever you are and whatever you are doing, even with arms full of children, laundry or crochet needles (yes, you know who I am talking about).
I’m praying for you ladies. Time spent walking in full surrender and obedience to God is always POWERFUL whether in small town India or small town America.