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This is a guest post by Gloria Furman, author of Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God.
1. Motherhood is evidence of God’s mercy.
The Bible teaches that God made mankind to be his image bearers. He gave Adam and Eve the royal task of filling the earth with more image bearers of the one, true King.
When our first parents disobeyed God in the garden of Eden, all of their descendants fell into sin along with them. Because of our sin, we all deserve God’s just wrath. Life, therefore, is an undeserved gift from God, never to be presumed or rejected. Motherhood is evidence that God is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2. Motherhood is a gift even when your feelings disagree.
Even though we believe what the Bible says about life being an undeserved gift, we often treat the presence of life as the gift we didn’t ask for. The dirty dishes in the sink or the laundry in the basket—evidence of God’s provision for hungry mouths and naked bodies—become a burden. A baby’s cries in the night or a child’s exuberant “outside voice"—evidence of God’s grace to sustain life in this sin-sick world—become an annoyance. Our fickle feelings about the gift of motherhood must submit to God’s truth.
3. “Mother” is a verb.
Whether we have zero biological children or twelve, our opportunities to nurture others and “mother” others in the faith are overwhelming.
Adoptive mothers mother. Fostering mothers mother. Biological mothers mother. Disciple-making women mother. The nurturing work of motherhood is not constrained to biological birth alone.
4. Motherhood is more than you can handle.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Mothers know that this isn’t true; raising children to the glory of God is always more than we can handle. We teach our children to sing, “We are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me,” and we live out those truths. Our sufficiency comes from Christ, through his gospel, to the praise of his glorious grace.
A mother’s prayerful reliance on Christ shows the world that he is the one who is doing the work, so he gets the glory (not us).
5. Motherhood is not a loss.
If our mothering work is joyful work unto the Lord Jesus, can we say it is a loss in the sense that we are losing something that is of better value to us? Indeed, mothers do lose things—autonomy, physical strength, sleep, money, time—but do we really want those things back when Christ gives us his sufficiency in their place?
With Christ’s joy as our strength, we can rejoice that the thousand deaths to self that we die each day are our servants—midwives that are bringing us gain, an eternal weight of glory. We mothers think we are the ones who are serving, but we are actually the ones who are being served as God uses motherhood to make us more like his Son.
6. Motherhood gives glory to Jesus that echoes in eternity.
Around the clock, while we are driving to work, crafting a report, feeling a baby kick us from the inside out, sleeping peacefully, or salting the ice on our front porch, the throne room in heaven is reverberating with unceasing praise for the Lamb who was slain. Our mothering work done unto Jesus is part and parcel of the new creation that is coming.
When a mom’s calendar is full of things to do, her heart is full of worries, and her hands are full, she needs to remember that her work done unto Jesus is part and parcel of the kingdom that is breaking into this old age. All the earth will be filled with his glory.
7. Motherhood is missional.
God’s design for women to nurture life is in line with the Great Commission. The obligation of God’s people is not merely to fill the earth with babies, but to multiply faithful image bearers through procreation and discipleship—to make disciples of the nations.
God’s message of peace through Christ rings in our ears and sets our hearts ablaze. In grace-empowered love, we live on mission, imploring our children and our neighbors to repent of their sin and worship the Lamb who was slain for them.
8. Motherhood flies in the face of fear.
There are a lot of things to be scared about in the world today. It’s enough to make a woman never want to be a mom in the first place, and for a mom want to lock herself and her kids inside the house and never come out again. Regardless of what the news headlines say, there is one piece of news that changed every headline for all eternity: He Is Risen!
Motherhood is not about sheltering our children; motherhood is about pointing children to Christ, their shelter in the storm. Jesus died and was raised, and has freed us from the bondage of sin and guaranteed our resurrection. That means that we are free to fearlessly follow him. Moms can follow Jesus wherever he leads, doing what he does: nurturing life in the face of death.
9. Motherhood reminds us of our need for grace.
When I was a college student and a new believer, I remember a new mom telling me that the two most sanctifying relationships in her life were with her husband and her infant. I was confused about the infant part; “How can a baby be sanctifying?”
My confusion about this idea began clear up when I became pregnant with our first child. Our days and nights are replete with opportunities to remember our collective need for the grace of God which flows to us freely through the cross of Jesus Christ. When we see how weak and sinful we are, we are reminded that we need grace. When we see how weak and sinful our children are, we are reminded that they need that same grace.
Though it might seem that we (moms and kids) have different needs (e.g., mom just needs more coffee, kids just need to grow up), the gospel reminds us that our greatest need is actually the same. We are all sinners in need of grace. The days and nights of nurturing children give us dozens of opportunities to hold out Christ to one another.
10. Motherhood is about a man—Jesus.
I know that sometimes it feels like motherhood is eternal (for some reason this feeling usually hits me when I’m ironing). Even though we feel this way, we understand from Scripture that no two days, no two carpool trips, no two doctor visits, and no two bedtime routines are the same. History is going somewhere, and there is an appointed day for the end of this age. Motherhood is not eternal, Christ is.
All of the scurrying about that we do in our daily work is but a fraction of the urgency that hangs over that day. Soon, the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father. What a day of rejoicing this will be for those from every tribe, tongue, and people group who eagerly wait for Christ’s return! And what a day of distress it will be for all those outside of Christ. Because we are headed toward that day, as we go about our mothering work we can be about what we are going to be about thirty trillion years from now— seeing and savoring Jesus.
Written by Gloria Furman, author of Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God. Originally appearing on Crossway.org.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four, doula, and writer. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, The Pastor’s Wife, and Missional Motherhood, and blogs regularly at the Gospel Coalition and GloriaFurman.com.
Publication date: May 4, 2016