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Entries in Mothers (5)

Tuesday
May142019

The Expensive Gift

Matthew 26:6-13.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019.

Today is Mother’s Day and we want to honor each and every mom that works hard every day to take care of her family.  Today’s story is not necessarily about a mother, but it is about a woman who gives an expensive gift of love to Jesus.  I would say that a woman who gives expensive gifts of love to those around them is a very fine definition of what it means to be a mom. 

As we look at this story, I pray that all moms will find encouragement for their life of sacrifice, and I pray that the rest of us can also hear the call of the Holy Spirit showing us how to love in every situation.

She gives what she feels led to give

In this passage, the woman is unnamed, but we are told that it occurs at Bethany in the house of Simon the Leper during the week before Christ’s crucifixion.  This would make it highly likely that this passage is a parallel account of John 12 where a similar account takes place.  There we are told that this is Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus (the one who Jesus raised from the dead).  Simon the Leper is most likely someone who was healed by Jesus, otherwise he wouldn’t be receiving dinner guests.  Regardless, it isn’t important if we know the woman’s name for today’s purpose.  However, I will refer to the John 12 account from time to time.

Jesus seems to be at a meal that is interrupted by this woman who pours a small flask of expensive oil upon his head.  This is something that would not be very welcome in our society, but it would have been considered an honoring thing in this society.  The oil would smell nice, which would honor the person with both its costly value and its odor.  Also, anointing had the added social connection to the beginning of a priest’s service or the beginning of a king’s reign.  Israel would anoint their priests and kings as they launched their term of service.

However, we must recognize that the motivation behind the woman’s action is not made clear in the story.  One thing is certain; it is the Holy Spirit that is leading her to do this.  She loves the Lord and sought a way to show it.  Often our love for another person causes us to give things that cost us dearly.  In fact, the most costly thing that mother’s give is themselves.  What is it that stirs a woman to give herself to children, a spouse, and family?  I believe that it is the Spirit of God that stirs these things up in our hearts.

Others don’t understand her gift of love

We are told that the disciples are shocked that this expensive gift is being “wasted” in this way.  John 12 tells us that Judas the Betrayer was the one who led this rebuke, but clearly at least some of the other disciples joined in with him and voiced their disapproval.  The oil could have been sold and the money used for the poor.  Now, several things stick out with this objection.  It sounds very pious and also like good financial advice.  However, it doesn’t have the heart of the woman whose love is being spurred by the Holy Spirit.  In John 12 we are told that Judas was skimming money out of the treasury bag, which he carried.  Clearly his motivations are evil, but he masks the true intentions by mentioning the poor.  As for the other disciples, their motivations are not evil like those of Judas.  However, they are caught up in a wrong spirit that criticizes the woman’s gift.

People can often object to how we spend our time, our energy, and our money.  Those things that we do that are motivated by our flesh and selfishness are often deserving of such rebukes.  However, love often gives “wastefully.”  How much was Jesus worth?  In John 12 we are told that the oil was valued at 300 denarii.  This term is usually defined as 1 day’s wage for a common laborer.  That is ten months of wages!  In our terms today we would be talking about $20,000 or more.  That is a lot of money that might even make the most giving of us think twice.  Christ is not physically here for us to show our love like Mary was able to do.  How do we love Christ?  We do so by loving his followers as he loved us, selflessly and sacrificially.  We do so by obeying his command to share the Gospel with the world around us.  Now, there is no law of God that limits the actions of our love.  Yet, people will often criticize you when you love extravagantly.  They will tell you that you are forgiving too many times etc. and criticize your response.  However, don’t pay the critics any mind.  Just ask yourself this.  How is God leading me to love this person in this situation?  Then stick to what you believe He is saying.

Christ receives and defends her gift

It doesn’t really matter what others say about how you have loved those who are in your life.  It only matters what Jesus thinks about our love.  Christ not only receives her gift as a gift of love, but he also defends her before the other disciples.  Countering their “It should have been given to the poor” argument, Jesus states that the poor will always be there to help, but the opportunity to do this was quickly slipping away.  Jesus would be crucified within the week.

It is amazing that people will end up sacrificing the specific person or people that God has put in their life for the sake of the unnamed masses of humanity.  There is nothing wrong with loving humanity and giving to causes that touch them with compassion.  However, if I don’t actively love the specific people in my life then I am a hypocrite.  Another way to think of it is that, we can neglect our love of the human in front of us for the sake of our love of humanity.  It is almost impossible to love humanity in a concrete way, but it is possible to love the individuals in your life today.

God is not worried about waste in the same way that we are.  Sure, we should not waste our money and live on frivolous and selfish things, however, neither should we let others who have a vested interest in our time, devotion, and money, tell us how to use it.  Rather, let us ask the Lord each day how to give love to the people in our life, as well as what organizations to support that are reaching people who are not in my life.  Just know that God has your back.  He simply wants you to grow in your ability to love, to become more like Him.

Her gift of love is greater than she knew

Probably no mother has completely understood the full impact of their sacrificial love.  We should do our best to help them through countless thankful actions, but even we do not completely understand.  Yet, God does.  Jesus explains in our passage that she is anointing him for his coming burial.  We know from the Gospels that none of the disciples really accepted the idea or understood that Christ really would be rejected and executed.   There is no reason to believe that Mary understood any more than they.  Her significant sacrifice was doing something beyond what she intended.

It is important for us to quit analyzing our actions of love after the fact in such a way that we are left feeling worthless.  We may even judge them as worthless or wasted ourselves.  For every child who has squandered the love of a great mom, is a mother’s heart that wrestles with self condemnation and sometimes the condemnation of people around them.  Yet, we are in the worst position to judge the value of our love.  Only God knows the true value of the blood, sweat, and tears that you have poured out in love for your family.  And if it is done in devotion to Christ, it is infinitely more valuable.  Incalculable.  Priceless!   Don’t let the spirit of this world cloud up or infect your heart with fear and doubt.  Rather, keep asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and trust that He will lead you until you hear Jesus say the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

By the way, the actions of Mary’s love left the room smelling of a pleasant odor.  The attitude of the disciples, however, was stinking it up.  Is it a pleasing odor before the Lord?

The Lord honors her gift of love

Let me close by recognizing that Jesus said this woman would have the honor of being so connected to the Gospel that 2,000 years later her story would not only endure, but also be proclaimed alongside of the Gospel.  What an honor!  However, it is still only a temporal honor that is in this life.  If the world were to stand another 2,000 years, few of us would have the honor of having our story remarked about all around the world.  The greater honor is not the honors that we are given in this world.  The true honor is that which will be given to us in the New Heavens and the New Earth after our resurrection.  Let’s love one another, but especially today; let’s reciprocate some of the love that mothers have selflessly poured into our life!

Expensive Gift Audio

Tuesday
May152018

How Much Must a Mother Know?

Psalm 139:13-18.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Mother’s Day May 14, 2018.

Today as we honor mothers, I want to look at a passage that is normally reserved for proving that God sees the fetus in the womb as a human life.  The reason I want to do this is because a fetus does not lose its value when it is born, neither does it lose its value when it is completely grown and dealing with the rigors of life.  Thus moms, and frankly all of us, need to be reminded, over and over again, that God has created us, that He knows us better than we know ourselves, and that He has given a great amount of thought to our particular life.

We can lose sight of this in life.  The Psalmist who pens this psalm is not a baby in the womb anymore.  Rather, it is David and he had encountered many obstacles and difficulties in his life.  He was a man who had a heart for God, but had also failed God at times.  In this Psalm he is remembering God’s constant care, all the way back when he had yet to enter the world.  This thought fills him with the knowledge that it is still so, and he mixes it with faith at the end of the psalm where he cries out in prayer to God, “Lead me in the way everlasting!”

Moms, God has created you.  He knows you, and He is always thinking of you.  Lean upon Him today and cry out with David, “Lord Jesus, lead me in the way everlasting!”  You may not feel like you know enough to do the tasks before you.  But you only need to know this one thing: how to lean upon the Lord.

God has created us

We are jumping into this psalm mid-way through it.  If you do look at the verses leading up to this section, you will recognize that David ponders the reality that God’s Spirit is everywhere we go and knows everything that we experience, both externally and internally.  It is somewhat scary to think that there is a being who knows everything about us and from whom we can hide nothing.  David lists different places as if searching for a place to get away from God.  Heaven, nope God is there.  The grave, nope God is there.  The uttermost parts of the sea- nope, but His hand will lead me and his right hand shall hold me.  Darkness falls on me, but with God the night shall be as the light.  In the end David points out that God’s constant and inescapable presence in our life is not something to be ran from.  Regardless of where we go in life and what we end up facing, God will be there to hold us, lead us, and dispel the darkness.  How can we trust this?  David does so by remembering the most vulnerable time of his life, when he was in the womb.

David realized and sings about the amazing truth that God has created us.  Sometimes we think about childbirth as simply a natural thing that does not involve God.  But here we are told that God is just as active in the birth of every child as He was at the creation of Adam and Eve.  Sure, it is different, but God is involved nonetheless.  In fact, Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.  We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”  Thus the womb is seen by David as a secret and hidden place of this earth, where God forms each individual.  It is tragic that modern society has turned this truth into a travesty.  Childbirth is a partnership between God and humans, and as such, we should respect His involvement in the process.

As David thinks upon the amazing creation of a human being that goes on in the womb due to the work of God, he describes it with two adverbs: fearfully and wonderfully.  Humans are fearfully and wonderfully made and that includes you.  The more we contemplate and inspect the design of God in our bodies the more we are amazed with a reverent awe.  It is scary in a good way how wise and powerful God’s design is.  However, it also fills us with wonder.  Unless you work in fields that focus on the human body it is easy to lose sight of such a wonderful and fearful truth.  You are not an accident of the universe.  You are not somehow more deficient than any other human being.  You were meant to be, and God was involved in your making as much as any other human.

This becomes even more important as we enter a new era of technology, where we are discovering the processes of conception and how to manipulate them.  Our technology is leading to a point where a human being can be brought into the world, not through parents that will love and care for them, but through lab technicians.  Such a process has a dehumanizing effect, as we become a commodity that is created on demand by people rather than something that was as God fully designed.  Of course technology cannot completely throw off the design of God (it must still deal with DNA, Germline Cells, and such).  Yet, conceptually even those concepts could one day be dethroned in humanity’s unslakable appetite to remake things.  Even in the midst of such chaos, I believe that God is still there.  He sees our formation and is involved in ways we may not completely understand.  Our value as humans is not based upon the people who brought us into the world, or their particular DNA makeup.  Rather, our value is based upon the God who is the most important being involved in our existence.  Our value is not based upon what we may think or do in this life, but rather upon the sure intention of God.  He has formed you and covered you in a wonderful and amazing fashion.  You exist because of Him, period.

God knows us

In verses 15-16, David recognizes that, even more than God’s involvement in our creation, He also intimately knew us during that time.  The processes and events of the womb have become less and less hidden through technology.  But the main point is well taken.  What is a mystery to humanity, including a mother, God knows full well.  What man could not see, God could see and was working out His will, even when we were still being formed.  Yet, it doesn’t end there.

David says that before even one day had passed in our development, God has already fashioned particular days for us and had them written in a book.  Now we can attempt to make this only about fetal development, but David is clearly implying more than this.  There is a parallel between the unformed fetus, which goes through a certain amount of days that God has fashioned for it until it is fully formed, and a child who is born into the world.  Such a child has a particular number of days fashioned for it by God.  When we have fulfilled those days then we will leave this world behind and enter the next.  The knowledge that God intimately knows our formation and life is intended to be an encouragement.

God knows what the future holds, whether we are an adult facing a crossroads or a newborn whose life has yet to unfold.  Yes, a child is fully human and is as valuable as a person in their prime.  Yet, their life is not fully revealed yet.  We do not know yet what sort of substance this child has within it.  Every trial, joy, difficulty, and pleasure is part of our formation until we have fully become what we are.  Of course there are differences.  A fetus cannot make choices of what will be formed in them.  But as humans we can.  You may not know what tomorrow holds, but God does.  Instead of anxiety and worry, embrace the peace that comes from this knowledge.

I want to come back to the idea that God has written down the days determined for us before they occur.  That might be a scary thought to some, but on the other hand, when you think about God’s heart, it is an amazing encouragement.  No matter what you face and no matter what people tell you is the right path, God knows your every day and is intimately aware of all that you face.  He has made a way through it for you.  The things you fear today, may build in you the courage you will be thankful for tomorrow.  Trust God’s loving hands.  He knows your name and your very being.

God thinks about you

In verses 17-18 we see the thoughts of God.  Knowledge is directly connected to thoughts and both point to God’s care for you.  He has not forgotten you, nor is He too busy to give thought to your life.  David recognizes this as a “precious” thing.  Of all of the treasures of David’s life, the knowledge that God had given thought to his whole life is of incalculable value.  Just as childbirth is a partnership between parents and God to bring a new human being into the world, so life is a partnership between us and God to unfold to the world just who that human being is.  Just as I think about my life (and often worry), so too God thinks about it.  How precious is that?

In speaking of God we know that the quality of His thoughts is great.  One thought from God is greater than a million thoughts of the wisest man on earth.  Yet, David points out that God’s thoughts towards us are of great quantity.  If it was possible to count the thoughts that God has thought about you, it would be a great sum, more than the sand on the seashore.  That is a lot of thought.  In fact, if God gave that much thought to our life, then perhaps we spend too much time trying to imperfectly recreate all His thoughts towards us.  I am not advocating that a person give no thought about their life.  But that we can temper those thoughts with the knowledge that God has already given thought to those things that we don’t understand.  This is intended to give us peace and the freedom to trust Him and His design.  Believers must cling to this great truth rather than to worry and despair.

The last line of verse 18 says that “When I awake, I am still with You.”  Though it is a short statement, it speaks to the faithfulness of God.  He is constantly faithful to us.  When we go to sleep, we are taking a break from life and all of its worries.  But when we wake up we find ourselves still with God.  He does not sleep or slumber.  He is constantly watching over us and with us.  He is always there.  Yes, we often feel all alone, even when we are not humanly alone.  But God is always right there with you, regardless of how you feel.  Take time to develop a relationship with the One who created you, who knows you, and has given great thought to your every day.  Thus moms, dads, kids, and friends, you only need to know one thing to do what you need to do, and that is this.  You can cast your cares upon Him because He is the One who cares for you.

How much audio

Monday
May152017

A Woman Who Follows Jesus

Philippians 2:1-4.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on Mother’s Day Sunday, 5/14/2017.

There are many voices today that promise women a better life by offering some philosophy or way of approaching life.  However, most of them are various ideas that come from the same source, the spirit of this age.  So women have a choice they can listen to the spirit of this age and go after the things that it promises by the ways it promotes (self fulfillment, self love, self adulation), or they can listen to the Spirit of God calling to them, “Save yourselves from this wicked and perverse generation!”

It is important to recognize that women have had a tough road throughout history.  Too often, men are guilty of not recognizing this and not loving women as we should.  So women need encouragement.  Yet, like any of us, they also need challenged.  Women are not inherently drawn to do things right.  They have the same battles with the sin nature as men do.  I believe our passage today has a good balance of encouragement and yet also challenge for God’s people, including women.  In fact, this is a hallmark of the Bible.  On one hand it recognizes our weakness and does much to give us encouragement and comfort.  Yet, on the other hand, it also recognizes our spiritual lethargy and does much to wake us up and get up headed on the right path.  Let’s look at our passage today.

She has much in Christ

In this passage Paul is trying to encourage Christians to have unity.  But he starts with a series of things that we all have in Jesus.  He uses a grammatical device of a series of conditionals.  These are intended to remind them of the fact that each of these conditionals is understood to be rhetorical.  Of course we who are Christians have all of these things.  There is no “if” about it.  This is going to be critical later.  But just understand that Paul is highlighting our relationship with Jesus.  We have everything that we need in this world without having to clamor and strive against others to get it because of our relationship with Jesus.  Christians are called to quit looking to the world for fulfillment and start receiving from Jesus all he has for us.  So what do we have in him?

The first “if” is consolation in Christ.  This word may give you the idea of a consolation prize.  Who wants that?  The word has the idea of calling someone to your side in order to speak to them.  Thus it is generally connected to some kind of help, encouragement, comfort, or even advice.  In Jesus we have this relationship in which the God of heaven calls us to His side and He speaks into our life those things that we need to hear.  You could say that the “if” statement does more than remind.  It can also be a testing question operating in such a way as to question.  Are you receiving this from Jesus or are you blocking his words into your life?  There is no question that it is available and at work in the life of a Christian, but sometimes we are not so cooperative with the Spirit of God.

The next “if” is comfort of love.  It is still understood to be “in Christ.”  The comfort of God’s love for us, especially through the person and work of Jesus, is immense.  When one thinks about how Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners, it leaves one with a powerful sense of God’s love for them.  However, the love of Christ also comes to us through other Christians who are also cooperating with God’s design to love others.  In fact, everything that we see around us becomes a testimony of the love of God intended to help us.  We are swimming in His provision and grace.  What a comfort that gives to our hearts, “if” we are seeing it and resting in it.

Next we are reminded of the fellowship of the Spirit.  “Fellowship” refers to the emotional bond that we have with other Christians by the Holy Spirit.  It starts with an inner relationship with the Holy Spirit.  He speaks to us and teaches us to follow Jesus.  When we connect with other believers who are doing the same thing, we have a powerful, shared experience of listening to the Holy Spirit.  This shared experience of learning to trust the Lord gives us a bond that is more than emotional; it is even spiritual.  When we connect with others of “like Spirit,” we have fellowship with them.  This also refers to the common lot, and common place that we have in this group we call Christians.  We have dropped away from the spirit of this world and taken our place among those who are following Jesus through the Holy Spirit. 

Lastly we are reminded of the affection and mercy of Christ.  Affection is a reference to the knowledge that God deeply cares about us, which leads to his compassionate mercy towards us.  His emotions have and do lead to actions of mercy in our life.

In all of these things there is a direct reception of them from Christ spiritually.  However, there is also an indirect reception of them through those who belong to Christ.  Granted, this is received imperfectly because it is flowing through imperfect people to a person who imperfectly receives.  That is why Paul is writing this letter.   Think about how often we wonder why God is “holding out on us,” (insert thing you want here).  Yet, at the same time He is daily pouring out such wonderful treasures upon us, directly and indirectly.  The real question is this.  Are you taking time to open yourself up to Jesus and when you do are you receiving it or are you pushing it away?  It is when we are filled with what Jesus has for us that we are enabled to get along with others, and this is directly where Paul wants to go with this.

She can have much with others also

If we have all this stuff from Jesus then it should be possible for us to be unified with other believers.  Our relationships become better because we no longer seek to satisfy ourselves by them.  Instead we are fulfilled by the vast and amazing grace that Jesus pours out upon us daily.  Before we talk about our relationship with other believers, it is important to recognize that this applies to our relationship with unbelievers, too.  Instead of needing something from them, we can love them fully and without selfish ambition because we have all that we need from Jesus.  Yet, having all that we need in Christ can never mean that we disconnect from others and become apathetic towards them.  It is Jesus himself who whispers in our ear, “Love them with my love.  Regardless of how difficult it may be, show them who I am.”

In our passage Paul points, in verse 2, to the need for believers to get along and to have a unity of heart, mind and soul.  Think of it.  We can have unity because we are no longer looking at each other as some kind of payday.  Jesus is our source.  Yes, he may use others.  But it is not dependent upon them.  His list in verse 2 goes through three aspects of our inner being that need to be unified with other believers.  He mentions the mind twice.  Love is generally connected to the heart.  And the word translated “one accord” in the NKJV literally means “same-souled (inner life).”  Now, the world recognizes the power of unity.  It has its own attempt at unity which usually employs a kind of dog-eat-dog system in order to see whose mind, heart, and soul gets to dominate the group.  But this is not the way of Christ.  You see, Paul wants us to have unity around the mind, heart, and soul of Jesus Christ.  It is his mind that should instruct us and lead us.  As we each surrender to Jesus, we are enabled to have unity with one another and Christ’s love can flow through us to each other.

So, what are the things that typically get in the way of Christians having unity?  Verse 3 tells us to put away selfish ambition and conceit.  When we adopt such attitudes and vices, they destroy our unity.  The word translated “selfish ambition” is actually one word.  It was used by the Greeks for those whose political electioneering was underhanded and marked by unfair means.  Such a person was willing to do anything in order to get ahead, to get what they wanted.  Now the word for “conceit” is a compound word that has the idea of vain glory, or empty pride.  Such pride is empty because it has nothing to offer others.  It is always selfish and sucks the life out of everyone that it touches.  A good metaphor would be a dark, rain cloud.  A farmer who is longing for rain is excited when they see a rain cloud.  Imagine that the cloud works very hard at looking like a good rain cloud, but in the end it sails on past and only sucks up more moisture.  Such are those who are conceited.  They work hard at looking good, but they are only good for themselves.  In fact, they are not even that.  One day they will approach their death bed and how empty they will be on that day.  They will look back with sorrow on all the relationships that they sucked the life out of, like some kind of vampiric beast.  They will be left empty in the end.  And, standing before God one day, they will be empty of anything to avoid their fate.  If we want true unity of the Holy Spirit, then we have to reject the voices and the spirit of this age, which incessantly stir up angst within us, calling us to selfish ambition and conceit.  So if these should be avoided, then what should we embrace?

The second half of verse 3 and all of verse 4 point us to the need for a humble opinion of ourselves and the need to esteem others above ourselves.  When we walk into a room our sinful nature seeks to find those ways in which we are better than others.  We tend towards an inflated view of self that affects our relationships.  So what does it mean to esteem others above self?  I don’t think it means to put yourself down in the sense of hating yourself and thinking that you have nothing to offer.  Rather, it is when we see all the ways that others are better than us.  In the world this is a threat.  But in Christ it is part of His grace to us.  Yes, we want Him to put all wisdom within us.  But in the end He scatters His gifts of wisdom, and yet for each of our benefit.  Even then we need to get to such a lowly place precisely because that is the place we need to get to if we are going to actually help others.  You cannot help others full of yourself.  God will bless you through others.  But that is not to be your focus.  Your focus is to be on Jesus and receiving from Him what you can then turn and give to others.

So ladies, and guys too, who are you following?  The next time you find yourself annoyed with someone and fighting with them over something, take time to stop and think.  What do I think I lack, and why do I think this person can give it to me?  Lord, forgive us for making others our source, for looking to others in the way that we should only look to you.  Lord, help us to walk in unity with other believers so that the world might see and know that you are a glorious savior.

A Woman who follows Jesus audio

Tuesday
May122015

Motherhood in Perspective

Today is Mother’s Day and as such we are going to talk about how important it is for mother’s to keep things in proper perspective.  By way of illustration I am going to read a short letter from a college student to her parents, which has no known origin.  By the way, this letter is not purported to be an actual letter, but was more than likely created to emphasize how perspective affects our outlook.  Here is the letter:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just thought I’d drop you a note to clue you in on my plans.  I’ve fallen in love with a guy called Jim.  He quit high school after grade eleven to get married.  About a year ago he got a divorce.  We’ve been going steady for two months and plan to get married in the fall.  Until then, I’ve decided to move into his apartment (I think I might be pregnant).  At any rate, I dropped out of school last week, although I’d like to finish college sometime in the future.  (Letter continued on the next page)…

Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that everything I’ve written so far in this letter is false.  None of it is true.  But, Mom and Dad, it IS true that I got a C- in French and flunked my math class…and it IS true that I’m going to need some more money for my tuition payments.

Being a mom is a difficult task that presents a unique set of challenges.  Yet, it is easy to lose perspective about it.  What is it I am really supposed to do?  What is success and what is failure?  Today we are going to look at three phases of life for moms: before being a mother, during the child rearing years, and after the kids leave the house.

Is Motherhood To Be Desired?

Over the last century being a mother has come to be a despised thing in some circles.  Whether it is Margaret Sanger calling for a 10 year moratorium on child births in the 1940’s or modern arguments that refer to motherhood as an enemy to women, a mom and dad raising a kid have much to overcome.  So, for a young woman, a very serious question to wrestle with is this: Is motherhood to be desired?  Is it some ancient form of slavery and restriction of women?  Does it necessarily ruin your professional and marital life?

Now before we deal with this question, I want to recognize that there are many women who, for one reason or another, have not or cannot have children.  I do not intend to diminish the difficulties of desiring to give birth to a child and being told you can’t.  Let me just say to those who are in that situation, trust God and talk with Him about your desires.  He may have something different for you that can be just as rewarding, whether becoming a foster parent, simply blessing kids around you, or mothering children spiritually.  So don’t make the act of birthing a baby of your own, the end all, of life and purpose.

Let’s go back to the question of the desirability of being a mother.  In Genesis 1:27-28, we see that motherhood is part of God’s design for women.  A man and woman coming together in a committed relationship to create the next generation is part of God’s design of humanity.  Whatever motherhood is, women were designed for it and it is not just a good thing, it is a God thing.

We also see in this Genesis passage that God refers to this process with the metaphor of being fruitful.  This is a powerful picture because no one would say that a tree without fruit is useless, and yet a tree that has fruit is something quite different altogether.  Throughout the Bible fruitfulness is more than physically giving birth to a child.  It is at its core a giving of life.  Yes, a child is birthed.  But it must be cared for and nurtured for it to be able to come to a point where it can live on its own.  Thus a woman’s fruitfulness is more than giving birth.  It is her ability to come alongside of another and give life to them.  This can be done regardless of one’s ability to conceive.  In fact the case can be made that the physical fruitfulness becomes a curse if the higher fruitfulness of physical and spiritual nurturing is neglected.  Rotten teens are not an argument against raising children.  They are an argument against the lack of a higher order of birthing that must happen.  The conception to birth process can be seen as an analogy of the higher order process that brings a child from birth into adult society.

In Psalm 127:3-4 we are told that children are an inheritance from the Lord.  In other words it is a portion that he has for many women that they can enjoy and tend to it.  It is not the only possible inheritance for women in life (If you are unable to have children recognize that God has an inheritance for you).  But neither should it be slighted as undesirable.

Motherhood is something that is good and desirable.  Take time to walk with God and He will make it clear if you are to be a mother or not.  Don’t lose perspective of the fact that you will come to the end of your life and there will be no going back.  Yes, we all have regrets, but don’t wall yourself off from motherhood without first spending the time in prayer to seek God’s will.

Am I A Failure As A Mother?

Once a woman has had a child, or more, it is very common to be plagued with doubts as to your success at it.  In fact they are very rarely doubts.  Generally you may feel quite sure that you have failed at it.  In Psalm 119:105, we are told that the Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  Thus, if you feel that you are a failure and don’t know what to do, turn to God for wisdom.  Let His Word shed light on what you should do. 

James picks up on this in James 1:5.  However, he not only counsels us to let God’s Word be a light to our path, but also counsels us to pray and ask for it.  Reading God’s Word is the content side, but we also have a spiritual and emotional side.  Spend time in prayer asking for wisdom to raise your child.  On top of this we can take our anxieties and worries, and put them in God’s hands because we know that He cares for us both emotionally and practically.

Now here are some rapid-fire encouragements that all of us know, but need to hear often.  Be realistic in how you judge yourself.  We can expect far too much of ourselves and our children.  In fact, a unrealistic expectation can make our “failures” even worse, by an unhealthy emphasis on perfection.  Relax and realize that you are not God.  There is only so much that you can do.  God does not expect you to be super-mom.  But you can be a supernatural mom by relying on God for His help.

Also, learn to prioritize.  Priorities help you to decide between what is going to get done and what isn’t.  Being a parent is one of those jobs that is never done and you’re always on the clock.  Many things that we see as failures are simply our limitations as a human.  You can’t do everything and God doesn’t expect it from you.  Prayerfully set priorities that make the really important things primary and the not so important things tertiary at best.

Another important thing is to find some friends that can understand what it means to be a mother.  The power of being able to talk with someone who understands us cannot be underestimated.  Don’t wall yourself off from others because you are such a “miserable failure.”  Isolation can make a person feel lonely even when they are surrounded by family.  So purposefully counteract it by seeking out friends who are raising kids themselves.  Alongside this, you can pray for God to lead you to a good mentor who is further along in life, a seasoned mom who can help you gain perspective.  In the now it feels like it is never going to end.  But a mom who has raised her kid can help keep you encouraged.  Normally this would be your mom and/or grandma.  But if this isn’t an option for you, don’t sit there.  Proactively seek out a mentor.

Lastly, moms, trust God.  Ultimately this is what we all have to do.  Many kids have come from horrible homes and grown up to become amazing servants of God and society.  So clearly you don’t have to be perfect for them to become all God wants them to be.  However, this is not an advocacy for not even caring.  You will have to give account to God for how you raised your kids, but not in the perfectionist way that you often do to yourself.  Your kid is going to grow up and make their own decisions.  You will be a powerful influence on them, but yet only an influence.  It doesn’t take perfection to do a good job; it just takes a love that is willing to be perfected.  “Lord, teach me to love my kids as You would have me!”

What now?

It is called the empty nest syndrome.  Some people look forward to the empty nest with far too much glee and, yet, others dread it with far too much gloom and depression.  A hyper-desire for what is down the road can adversely affect our actions in the now.  No, you don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be engaged in the here and now.  Emotional abandonment can be a very heavy thing to place upon the shoulders of a child.  On the other hand, those who are depressed over the emptying of their nest can develop an unhealthy selfishness and lack of faith that God has other good things ahead for you.  If God gave you kids to enjoy then He will be faithful to give you things to enjoy at the next stage.  Yes, all you have known for the last 20-30 years is suddenly gone and you face an unknown future.  But you have been there before.  The same God who has led you to this point has a plan forward.  Take His hand and rejoice!

We see such attitude in Hebrews 11:24-27.  Moses is given a task by God.  He knew what was being asked on the macro-level.  But there was much ahead that required trusting God.  Surrender to the next stage and let God lead you forward just as God led Moses.  There is a reward ahead.  This highly transitional time can go in many different directions and will definitely go through several transitions.  Some of them will be your choices, and yet, some of them may not.  Many a couple has emptied the nest only to immediately be presented with failing parents who need their care.  Or perhaps you have an adult child who has special needs and will never be able to live on their own.  Many things can lie ahead: grandkids, travel, new professions, hobbies, and expanded horizons.  No one thing is necessary for you to have a full and rewarding life.  The only thing you really need is to trust God as He leads you into the next phase of your life.

Let me close with a passage in Titus 2:1-4.  Here Paul encourages the older women to help the younger women to see the importance of loving their husbands and children.  Though he doesn’t use this word, I would see this as mentoring.  You have alot of experience that you can share with younger women.  It should not come across as a “know-it-all” attitude.  In fact mentoring is not so much about showing a young mother what she is doing wrong (this can short-cut her own learning and developing process).  At its heart is one woman telling another woman that, if she will lean on Jesus, she will be woman enough to meet the daunting things in her life.  Encourage them and keep them trusting in Jesus and His wisdom.  And, a practical tip from time to time won’t hurt at all ;)

Motherhood in Perspective audio