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I want to be completely honest with you all. I have been struggling, trying to understand what my place is, what my role is in all that is going on around us.
Over the years as a mom at home with our 8 kids, God reminded me over and over again that raising and homeschooling our kids was my calling. A lot of outside activities, ministries, politics, and other worthy causes all needed to be laid aside for the most part because I simply couldn’t do it all.
Have you ever heard of that saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”?
It’s not that I wasn’t capable of doing many of those things, but I knew in my heart that something would suffer…most likely my children and the peace in our home, and I simply wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice. One of the reasons I knew this was because when I thought about involving myself in those other things, I began to feel burdened. I would ask God if I was missing something or if I was simply weak and needed to toughen up. Time and time again He would say to me, “Keep your hand to the plow.”
If you are not familiar with that term, it’s from a verse in the Bible where Jesus was talking to those who told him that they wanted to follow him but then proceeded to tell Jesus what they needed to go and do first.
A farmer in this biblical culture guided a light plow with his left hand and his oxen with his right hand. If he looked away, the plow would turn from its path. For believers, looking back is the same as putting earthly concerns before God. As a mom, it was becoming distracted from the priorities that He had clearly placed in front of me.
Every time God gave me this picture, it helped me refocus. These children were a blessing. They were valuable. They were a worthwhile and lifelong investment. They were a mission field. In the meantime, I could trust God to lovingly care for me, shepherd me and order the bigger world around me without me having to bear burdens that were not mine to bear.
Fast forward to the present and we are about to graduate our 7th with only one left at home. I have so many more opportunities to be involved in other good things and honestly, it’s been more challenging than I would have ever imagined. I was starting to find a groove in my ministry to moms and a new season of life at home. Then virus fears, shutdown complications, and what feels like a million things whirling out of control has hit like an unending tsunami. I found myself buried under a burden of stress over and over again, trying to figure out how I got there. I also know from experience that living this way is not sustainable without major consequences and I’ve been seeking the Lord for the specifics on how I should now live.
Not only have I been personally challenged in my faith, but I began to question what my ministry to moms should look like given all the changes. Should I encourage moms to be more vocal in speaking the truth and standing up for what is right? What is it that moms really need in the midst of this kind of chaos? What might they be called to that I could encourage them in?
Nothing was clear until this morning.
My Bible happened to be opened up to Lamentations 3:22-26:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.
As I looked over my study Bible notes in regards to the phrase referring to daily mercies or mercies afresh each morning, it said this:
“He continually provides a habitable world in which we can live.”
This isn’t in the sense of planet earth so much as it is our inner world: our mind, our will, our emotions, our spirits. We know He does order the perfect amount of gravity, oxygen, light, dark and so much more so that our bodies can continue to live here on earth. In fact, if anyone of these countless details weren’t exactly what they are, we would cease to exist.
Even beyond that, God is not only concerned with but delights in tending to the vast needs and cares that our private, inner worlds so desperately need. He IS our loving shepherd. So when David says in Psalm 23:1, “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything that I need”, it really wasn’t a stretch of the imagination.
You see, sheep do not just take care of themselves. They are high maintenance and require more endless attention and meticulous care than we realize. He delights in His flock and finds deep satisfaction in seeing His sheep contented, well-fed, safe, and flourishing under His care. We are not a problem or a burden to Him. Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
Do you hear that? The thief, Satan’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. I would not call that world “habitable”. Jesus wants to give us a rich and satisfying life and that is “habitable”.
So as I revisited God’s loving and good heart for us, I was renewed with a fresh vision for what He wants for me as an older mom and you as a younger mom.
First of all, He wants to make a “habitable” private world for us. It is crucial that we let Him order this world. Your life as a mom might not look like mine has. I encourage you to always be prayerful and “keep your hand to the plow”. Do what GOD is calling you to do as a mom.
You are raising your children in a quickly changing world. I would never discourage you from speaking out and defending your God-given right to make all decisions concerning your children and to speak out against injustice. God knew before the beginning of time that you would be a mom in this generation with everything happening that is, but the most powerful and effective thing we as moms can do is to pray. We can do that while folding laundry, tying shoes, changing diapers. You were made for such a time as this.
As an older mom who has the privilege of speaking into your life, my role has not changed, even in this day and age: Titus 2:3-5:
“Similarly, (Timothy) teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”
I’m called to encourage you to continue to do what God has called you to: loving your husbands and children, working in your homes, and doing good. My role has not changed. Neither has yours. Your calling is a high calling and never has there been such a need in our culture for godly mothers who are raising godly children.
As women of God, as mothers, let’s resolve to invite God to shepherd us as we shepherd our children. Searching for safety in anyone or anything else will only lead to feeling restless, unsettled, covetous, greedy for more, and more, yet never really satisfied in spirit. This is not a “habitable” world.
Instead, let us put all of our affairs into the loving care of the Shepherd of our souls. As we walk through our days, moment by moment, hour by hour, may we pray for discernment as to what makes our private world “habitable” and what does not, what we have grace for in that moment and what we do not.
There is not one single day that dawns that His mercies are not new for that day. Our world may be changing, but our God and His Word are unchanging. Let’s bring every care and concern before the throne of God, leaving our burdens with the loving Shepherd of our souls. We can be sure that as we cling to Him and to what we know is true in His Word, we will continue to live in a private world with Him that is “habitable”.