Motherhood is a Means, or, Give Them a Beautiful Inheritance!

Motherhood is one of those things that we instinctually know is important. Yet it isn’t the end.

It is the mission field of the mundane. Daily giving up myself for the sake of my short people. Daily pouring out every truth and fact and shred of insight and wisdom that is stored up in me to impart it to little hearts and little heads and little hands.

Yet, I don’t control the end. I don’t write the story. I’m just a character in it. I know how I’d write it if I were doing the writing, but I’m not. And we (especially me) should all be very very grateful that that’s the case.

The end and final chapters for my kids will mostly likely be without their mom. I’ll be written out–dead. They will start, in a very short time, making decisions quite independent of me. The influence I’ve exercised over them, as all parents do, will be spent. I recognize that I can’t save my kids. Saving is God’s work.

But what is it all for–this motherhood that we all know in our gut is some of the most important work on the planet. Anyone with a good mom will attest–having a good mom is important! And anyone with a bad mom will doubly attest–having a good mom is important!

It’s because motherhood is a means. It’s a means to our kids’ salvation. It’s a (often THE) means to imparting wisdom and Biblical thinking and the anchor that will hold in the high and stormy gale. For a child, the authenticity of the Gospel story is played out in living color by their parents–their mom. Here’s an example: I believe that Jesus is God–He came to earth and lived a sinless life, died on a cross to take the penalty for my sin, and my old self died with Him. Then three days later rose again and I am raised to new life with and in Him.

So how does that play out before their eyes in my life? How about in line at Chipotle at lunchtime during a workday, when the restaurant is filled with professionals and we bustle in breathless with grins on our faces at the thought of food prepared with someone else’s hands! I’ve got the 2-yr old in my arms and the other three are swarming around my legs. We cheerfully bounce into a line about 4 deep and are followed up by 3 or 4 more hungry customers. I glance around with a smile surveying the temperature of the patrons.

It’s cool, to put it mildly. Directly behind us is a woman whose face is visibly annoyed. Perhaps she was concerned that our order would take a long time because she inches closer, willing the line to move ahead and willing us out of it. In front of us is a “young adult.” Older than a teenager, but clearly not out of the teenager phase of life. He pretends like we aren’t behind him. How embarrassing to stand in line by children.

My response to this says something about what I believe the Gospel to be about.

So, I quietly stand my ground with my kids–they’re mine. I look in their faces with love and happiness–happiness that they exist and that we are together. I do not look embarrassed or try to apologize for their existence. I hold my baby and kiss her head. When our turn comes I order with dignity and help my 4 yr old to see over the counter what’s happening. I explain what a carnitas burrito is and why guacamole will be their favorite when they’re old like me. I claim them, I value them, I protect them, I teach them and mostly, just by our sheer existence in that place, I say, these kids are mine, and they’re worth sacrificing for, they’re worth being poured out for, and I’m doing it. That’s what God does for us–claims us.

Also, these kids are not accessories. They’re people. I don’t “wear” them. They aren’t dogs either–there to love me unconditionally and perform some tricks. No, quite the opposite, I serve and love them. That’s what Jesus does for us.

It’s part of a Gospel picture. There are a million more that we paint for our kids by how we respond when they’re vomiting on Palm Sunday or at Christmastime or whether we yell and pitch a fit over the third cup of spilled milk, or chuckle and grab the paper towels. And I fail, don’t get me wrong, I fail. They even get to see how grace covers me when I sin and fail–another portrait of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Bottom line is that the Gospel story, the true story, must be told with words and it must be borne out in the moments of our lives. These are the means of motherhood to bring a child to trust the Trustworthy One. A trustworthy mom who stands her ground and loves her kids in a hostile Chipotle is like a line falling in a pleasant place for those kids and the line points to the Savior–it is a beautiful inheritance. It’s not guaranteed, the secret things are God’s, but it is my calling. May you do it, Lord, for Your Name, El Kana.

“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
(Psalm 16:5-6 ESV)

repent! it's never the wrong message.

I think when difficulties/trials/catastrophes/sufferings are brought to bear on our lives, an apt message to preach to our own soul is always, “Repent!”

It’s so offensive.  And the message seems to rub salt in the wound.  It’s kind of like, “Hey, I am enduring a terrible loss, the last thing I need to do is be reminded that I’m a terrible sinner.”

And, for many, it seems to imply that if only we had repented sooner, the calamity would not have happened, so then guilt follows, as if we caused the calamity.  (For instance, if I hadn’t made an idol of my children, the Lord wouldn’t have taken one away).

But not everyone who loses a child has made an idol of them.  So, what then?  Is the message still “repent”?  And I think it is.  God’s purposes in the trials He brings to us are beyond finding out.  And I believe the purposes are vast, not singular.  And I also believe that for those who are in Christ, they are always good purposes.

[Sidebar: I am NOT advocating that friends who see another friend experience a trial immediately respond with the message, “Repent!” Bad form!  We don’t want to end up like Job’s “friends.”  And if you are prone to pointing out the reasons why a certain trial has befallen a friend (unless there is obvious consequence-producing sin), think twice.  God’s ways are unsearchable.  Humble yourself, you may be next.]

Repentance is always good for us and we’re always in need of it.

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with the little one that the Lord took at 8 weeks, I wrote this:

“Not all calamities and sufferings are given for the specific cause of jerking us out of rebellion.  But I dare say that all calamities and suffering should have the effect of causing us to draw nearer to God.

So, I’m praying now, as things are good and blessings flow like water and honey in my life, that I’ll think now about how to respond when calamity comes.  That I’ll get a footing for the hard times that I may one day face.

And that my footing will be in the Word and in Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and man, without whom, meeting my Maker would be more fearsome than any earthly calamity.”

How often the Lord has brought this to mind as I wage war against being engulfed by sorrow.  I preach to myself, “Repent!  Draw near to God.  Get your footing in the Word.  Gaze at the cross.  Do not fear the loss of a child, fear the Lord and love Him.”

[Pastor John has some thoughts on repentance and tornadoes today..]

gospel in ten words or less

Demian, over at Fallen and Flawed (great blog, by the way), asked 12 bloggers, including me, to summarize the Gospel in 10 words or less.

It was a tough one for me, but here’s my response:

“Jesus’ blood calls, converts, cleanses, cures, carries the once condemned.”

How would you summarize the greatest story ever told if you only had 10 words to do it?  One of the bloggers, Kevin DeYoung, did it in three words.  Whoa.  Go over to the original post to see how he did it (and who he was quoting)!

I found it to be a great exercise.  Thinking about the Gospel (and talking about the Gospel and writing about the Gospel, etc) is the most important thing I do each day.  I am never not in need of the Gospel.  It’s the Gospel that’s brought me through the last couple weeks and is bringing me through today and will one day carry me home.

So take this opportunity to meditate on the big stuff of the Gospel.  And leave your summary in 10 words or less in the comments.

have you heard the good news?

If you have spent any time at this blog, I hope you’ve noticed something.  I hope you’ve noticed an inescapable theme woven through and shaping all my thinking and writing.  The theme is the Gospel.

I have opinions about many things, and I can say with certainty that many of them are flawed.  Sometimes our opinions are a reflection of ourselves, they’re subjective and based on subjective life circumstances.  But there are times when our “opinions” are really beliefs, beliefs based on a reality.  

I think that what I believe about God and His Son, Jesus, and the Bible is one of the latter things.  It is a belief based on a fact, a reality, a truth.  

If I said I believe Lincoln was the President during the Civil War and gave the Gettysburg address and was assassinated while watching the opera, that belief would be true.  It is based on actual events that happened.  

I believe the Bible to have the same sort of historical factual information, and much much more.

Here are the nuts and bolts of what I believe:

God made the earth and Adam and Eve.  They lived in harmony with God, until they sinned.  After they sinned they were separated from God and they and the earth became cursed as a result of their evil.  

The sin problem plagued every human from then on.  It has been life’s biggest, most serious problem.  Their sin, and ours, is against a holy and perfect God who cannot tolerate it and must send sinners to eternal punishment.

For hundreds of years, God’s people, Israel, tried to make peace with God by sacrificing animals to atone for their sin.  God was gracious in forbearing with these less than perfect sacrifices.  

Prophets like Isaiah foretold the coming of a man, called the Messiah, who would save the people from their sins.  And that this Savior would save more than just Israel, but would be for all peoples.  He would be the perfect sacrifice needed to bring peace with God and overcome sin and death.  He would, in fact, be God incarnate.

This God-man, the Messiah, named Jesus, was born of a virgin Mary, he was begotten of God the Father, and He lived a perfect life.  He loved everyone perfectly and was good and just and all the things we might try to be, but fail.  

Eventually He was hanged on a cross.  This was the will of His Father.  It was part of a plan that the Father had to bring reconciliation between Himself and sinful people.  The same sinful people that crucified Christ, would now have the opportunity for peace with God through the very death they enacted.  Jesus was crushed for our iniquity.  

And after He was murdered on our behalf, He rose from the dead after three days, thereby defeating death forever.  

When He rose from the dead, He was seen by many witnesses and even ate a meal with His disciples.  Then God took Him up to heaven.  

This all happened over 2000 years ago.  You can read about it in the Bible.  The Bible is God’s Word.  This means that what is written in the Bible is not simply an historical account (although it is that too), but God’s very words to us, that He inspired mere humans to write.  Everything in it is True and for the benefit of sinful people to come to God and know God and glorify God.  

For me, this is good news.  

This is life-changing news.  It is Life for my dead heart. It is Light for my dark mind.  It is Bread for my hungry soul.  It is the Way, when all ways were shut.  It is the Good Shepherd, when all had gone astray.  It is the Truth, when lies were closing in.  

Does this sound like good news to you?  

Do you sense God’s Holy Spirit beckoning you to taste and see that the Lord is good?  Do you long to cast your burden of sin onto Jesus, gaining for yourself freedom from sin and joy in loving God in this life and forever in heaven?  Do you want to give thanks to God for this gift?  Do you desire to see His name made great, because you now see that He is Great?

I hope you do.  I hope you want to run and find the nearest Bible to learn more about this thing called Christianity.  I hope you decide to find a church that believes the Bible and is depending on Christ for their salvation through faith alone (trusting and believing God), by grace alone (not depending on good works). 

If you want to hear the good news again, in someone else’s words.  Here it is:

Please contact me or a Christian in your life, if you have turned from your sin and are now resting in Christ’s Righteousness.