This last week I was reading from some women that inspire me, and it really got me thinking – deeply – about the lost art of godly motherhood. I can think right now of so many women in my life that exemplify what a godly mom is, and it’s not their perfection, it’s their sacrifice that humbles me and inspires me to be more.
There was a time in my life when I had more personal freedom. Not that long ago I could leave the house, go grocery shopping, or see a movie without having to do much planning or preparation. I could meet up with a friend, or go out with my husband, and I didn’t even have to call or notify someone that their childcare services were being requested! Now grocery shopping requires carefully planned strategies, and seeing a movie is a rare (if ever) occasion. I have always been a very driven and productive person, working my whole adult life and “getting a lot done” every day, but when God blessed me with more babies, my efficiency seemed to taper off a bit.
At one point in my life I was a “world changing” missionary teaching in Bible College, pastoring women, holding Bible studies every week and crusades every weekend. I was up at 4am, teaching devotionals at 5:30, and leading staff prayer at 1. My days were productive and my nights were filled with sweet sleep!
Now many days are spent making block castles with William, being a cheerleader for Grace as she learns to crawl, and sitting outside naming the different animals we see or all the colors that God made. Hours are spent cleaning up messes, and reorganizing toys that will all be on the floor again in a few hours, and guess what? Nobody sees what you do day in and day out except God.
Is it less glamorous? Yes. Is your work rarely acknowledged? Yes. Is it less important?
In the eyes of the world you are “just” a mom. You are “tied down” by these needy little creatures that need constant instruction and correction; that have meltdowns at the most inconvenient times; that cry until they are taught to communicate, and can’t even comprehend being grateful for your sacrifice until they are much older. Yet laying down one’s life for another is the greatest example of love, and it was Jesus that demonstrated the ultimate sacrifice for us.
In the words of one godly mother,
“Productivity is not God’s highest goal for this season of my life; obedience is. Success in His kingdom is not measured by numbers of people reached, quantity of books written, or worldly accolades received. Rather, He says, ‘…whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant’ (Matt. 20:26)”
It was Jesus that taught us to get down on our knees and empty ourselves of position and reputation, and to value and highly esteem the privilege of serving others. Godly motherhood is a priority to God, and it is in living this poured out life – one that we “lose” for Him – that we truly find a life of abundance.
God has been teaching me to slow down, and to cherish this time that I have with my children. What I invest as a mother now will produce such a glorious harvest in time to come. I have a brief window to give of my time, talent and energy – sowing seeds of righteousness in my children’s hearts. In the words of Paul, “I will gladly spend and be spent,” for their little souls to know Christ.
For all of the moms who daily choose a life of self-sacrifice, and who may think that it doesn’t matter or that it’s keeping you from doing something “more important” for God – be encouraged today. What you do as a mom matters, and it is very valuable and precious in God’s eyes.
“Abiding doesn’t measure how much you know about your faith or your Bible. In abiding you seek, long for, thirst for, wait for, see, know, love, hear, and respond to … a person. More abiding means more of God in your life, more of Him in your activities, thoughts, and desires.”
As I sit here and think about my own relationship with God over the years, I can see cycles of deeper intimacy that I would prefer remained more constant. When Jesus told His disciples to abide in Him, it meant more than just visiting frequently – it meant being vitally united to Him in such a way that He would be the very source of life that they drew from on a continual, daily basis.
Have you ever drifted from your first love? Have you ever had such a desire to serve God that you submerged yourself in Christian doctrine, becoming excellent at disciplines and principles, growing confident and competent to the point that your living, flourishing relationship with Christ began to suffer? Disciplines are good. Doctrine is good, but we are not changed by doctrine; we are changed by seeing Jesus.
“…but we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Even as we renew our minds in the word of God, true and lasting change only comes when we receive the light of the truth (Christ), and behold His beautiful face. We become more and more like Him by seeing Him, and that comes when we abide in Him.
When Jesus spoke the words recorded in John 15, He and His disciples were walking to Gethsemane. They had celebrated the Passover. They had been full of joy until Jesus began to wash their feet, speak of betrayal, denial, and His imminent departure. He tried to calm the disciples’ fear and assure them that they would not be left alone. As they pondered His words on this walk, He stopped and spoke to them about branches, and vines, and the Vinedresser. In our record of the words He spoke, He uses the word abide 10 times in 11 verses. He is passionate in what He is saying to His friends: Even though I am leaving, we MUST stay together.
He is no less passionate in talking to you today, right now, at this very moment. You are called to produce miraculous harvests, abundant crops of fruit for God’s glory, but apart from Christ you can do NOTHING! HE is everything. IN HIM you live, and move and have your very being. Don’t be so busy for God that you forget to sit at His feet and worship, and love, and listen, and praise, and draw fresh living water from His well every day!
So many of the concerns in your heart, the questions about your future, the cares of this life will be silenced when His voice is speaking, will grow dim when His light is manifested, will become small when His great glory is revealed. I have been guilty so many times of seeking answers instead of seeking Him. We do need answers, wisdom, direction, guidance, and vision, but sometimes we’re not even asking the right questions! So many complexities are simplified when we stop obsessing over details, and start passionately pursuing the one who knows every detail!
Maybe you need more than just inspiration today. Maybe you need direction. How do I cultivate this kind of relationship? Here are just a few keys to practice this week to begin to deepen the QUALITY of your devoted time with God:
1. Set apart time to talk and listen to A PERSON:
No matter how long this devoted time is – whether 10 minutes or two hours – make it QUALITY. Have a private place to read and write, think and study, talk to God out loud, and be ready to write down His words to you. As you read the Bible, read in order to meet someone, ponder what you read and expect God to commune with you. You’d be surprised how even 10 minutes of quality, daily communion with God can drastically change your attitude, perception, and priorities.
2. Be attentive to His presence all day long:
Now that you’ve spent that “set apart” time with God – don’t leave Him there. Abide in His presence. Ask Him what He thinks about whatever is heavy on your heart. Invite Him into the inner dialogue you are having as you make daily decisions. Thank Him and acknowledge Him throughout your day, and make an intentional choice to be aware of Him the way you’d be aware of a friend or your spouse if they were present in the room.
I invite you to practice abiding in Him this week. He is always calling us closer, and as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. He is waiting…
Have you ever been guilty of practicing performance based Christianity?
If your answer is, “Yes,” you are not alone! Yesterday as I was vacuuming my bedroom, I thought back to all the times I had asked my son to vacuum his room. He is now 20, married and out of the house so I like to remember when he was little – time goes too fast! He would vacuum, not because he wanted a clean floor, but because I had asked him to vacuum; sometimes he did it so fast I wondered whether the vacuum picked up much of anything! I was working slowly as I reminisced, and I was repeatedly going over certain areas to get as much dust, dirt and hair as I could off the floor. I had a different motive than my son did – I wanted a clean carpet – but more than that I wanted a nice, clean house for my husband to come home to.
We can have different motives for serving God too. We might give of our time at church because someone asked us to. We might give of our finances because it’s “the right thing to do.” We might even visit prisoners and pray for the sick in hospitals because the Bible says to do that, and we are taught to do what the Bible teaches us to do. At the root of many of these obligatory acts of service is a heart motive that is trying to earn approval from God and man by its works.
Though I was grateful that my son would do what I asked him to do, the fact that his motive was simply doing it because he had to DID have an effect on the end result. Could he check it off his list? Yes. Did he get it done? Yes, but his bedroom floor probably wasn’t much cleaner than when he started. When we do things for God simply because we feel obligated, or because we feel it is owed to Him, or that it will gain us His approval or man’s approval – it will have an effect on the end result!
I like how The Message Bible says it,
“Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” ~ Ephesians 6:6-7 ~
If we are just doing what we have to do to get by, we are serving from a works-based, performance-based, law-based heart motive – and it is self-serving rather than God-serving. Our motive is an earthly reward: people seeing our “goodness,” God accepting us, or being praised for our works. It’s all about us.
On the other hand, when we serve with joy, with a smile, and with excellence, we are serving from a LOVE-based heart motive, and it is others-centered, and it is God-honoring! Our motive is love: seeing others blessed, adding value to the businesses we work for or the clients we serve, people being healed, delivered, and set free as we prepare a place for them to come and worship. The awesome part is that when we don’t seek an earthly reward, God gives us a heavenly one:
“All good deeds are gifted back from the Lord...” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (The Voice)
“Good work will get you good pay from the Master…” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (The Message)
“You know that the Lord will reward every person who does what is right…” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (CEB)
“Knowing that for whatever good anyone does, he will receive his reward from the Lord…” ~ Ephesians 6:8 ~ (AMP)
This week, pay attention to why you do what you do – whether it be caring for your children, serving in your church, cleaning your house, working – whatever it is, give yourself the litmus test. Am I doing this with real joy? With a sincere smile? With excellence? If not, check your love levels! It may be that you need to spend some time basking in God’s love so you do all you do with a right heart, one that God is ready to reward!