“O call back yesterday, bid time return”, says Shakespeare.
There is a wisdom that comes with the years. And could we, who have gone before you, have opportunity to redo our early motherhood, bringing the wisdom of our today back with us to our distant yesterday…hmmmm, but, alas, we cannot. We can only relay to your heart what we see from our vantage point. You sit here in the privileged place of The Beginning. With the birth of this precious soul, you and your husband embark on your own unique journey.
A quote hung in our boys’ room for the longest time: “Your life is like the driven snow. Be careful how you tread it for every track will show.” Your journey of motherhood is yet in its infancy, just like your soon-to-appear newborn babe. I encourage you to handle your new and privileged position of mother as carefully, as delicately and as wisely as you will be handling that lovely and wondrous and miraculous new baby.
A mother is a beautiful thing; purposefully directing her child’s attention to that which is beautiful, lovely, divine. When a mother has conquered herself, her children will feel the blessing of that, as she can now bestow upon them the greatest of blessings. “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:2) Three of the most blessed things that can be bestowed upon a human being: grace, mercy and peace. We can offer these to our children only when we have tasted of them ourselves.
Our life with our children begins with labor; intense, physical labor and great, personal sacrifice. Why do we think that will stop with the birth? Or that it should stop? The labor continues. For we must continue in intense spiritual labors for their souls; entreating God to not only work a miracle of regeneration in their hearts but to also work a miracle of a total transformation of our own heart from selfish woman to selfless mother. Just as a child moves from infancy to toddlerhood where he must learn some very basic lessons such as, “Obey Mommy and Daddy” and “Share”; these are the foundational lessons of submission, sacrifice and selflessness. In this stage of early motherhood great personal sacrifice must continue long after the labor ends as we die to ourselves, namely: to our will, our plans, our personal ambitions, our pride, and learn to serve others with a pure heart.
As the toddler grows and moves to elementary learning, he is quickly faced with the basic building blocks for the advanced lessons yet to come. So, too, for the mother comes some early lessons crucial to future success. I believe that perhaps your greatest need, and one of your most basic lessons as a mother, is going to be in learning how to walk with your God. For life is filled with both the bitter and the sweet. In the midst of Job’s terrible suffering he cried out in profound desire, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him! That I might come even to His seat! I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say unto me. Will He plead against me with His great power? No; but He would put strength in me.” (Job 23:3-6) Job is trusting in God’s mercy and God’s good plan for his life but is struggling to draw the more closely to the only One who can make sense of it all. In the agonizing “whys?” along life’s way there is for the Christian mother the assurance that the All-Powerful God longs to impart this generative power to us, “He would put strength in me”, that we might know Him and understand Him in the midst of the pain and in the turmoil of questioning, that the great I Am is and that He walks with us. Seeking first His strength and His help through His Word and through prayer is key to the lessons yet to come on this journey of motherhood.
Ah, yes, the bittersweet of motherhood. How keenly we feel it. Dear young mother, you know not what lies before you. I encourage you to set your will firmly in line with the Lord’s and drink in the entire experience. Ladies, remember labor? What were we coached to do? “Breathe, Breathe! Work with the pain.” That advice is very good! That advice carries through long after the labor pains have passed: terrors such as the realization that this child, this eternal soul, makes its own choices, and must suffer its own consequences; the brutal reality that this child has its own will; and that much of her life is completely out of our control. Mothers: Breathe! Pray! Breathe! Pray! As natural as breathing, should be our communication with God. A continual conversation should flow from our hearts to His throne. This sweet, this precious, this hard, this scary, this exhausting, this exhilarating experience of motherhood; drink it in deeply. Savor the cup.
Throw yourself into this motherhood. Give it your very all. The master passion of your life has been decided for you as you now bear the title of mother. Succeed you must! And in Him, succeed you will. From the old book, The Golden Gems of Life, “Success is the child of confidence and perseverance. The talent of success is simply doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do, without a thought of fame…Success in life is the proper and harmonious development of those faculties which God has given us. Whatever you try to do in life, try with all your heart to do it well; whatever you devote yourself to, devote yourself to it completely. …There is no substitute for thorough-going, ardent, sincere earnestness.” And I say, there is no failing as a mother if you seek to live fully in the present; devoting yourself to your sacred calling and to God; striving daily to walk with Him in lowliness of mind and meekness of heart bringing your children alongside of you.
There is no “perfect”. The finish line is death. Our goal is to spend ourselves for Christ while we yet have breath. The race is your own and your only competition is you. God has called you to the task of motherhood. Rise to its challenge. Die trying if you must but don’t quit. I remember a time of terror during one of my pregnancies when I believed I could not move forward. I still had some months left before the delivery, and being my fourth, I knew what was ahead. I wasn’t up for this task and all that lay before me. I had completely panicked. My husband leaned over my hospital bed, held my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “You must. There’s a baby in there who is counting on you. You must and you can.” There was no way out but forward! So, too, in this Christian life. Fears? Yep, but face them we must. Fatigue? Most certainly, but wisely pressing onward we must go. Failures? Absolutely! “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…”
Don’t give up! You cannot avoid the lessons slated for you to learn. We must remain at our post and overcome. The enemy is waiting, lurking, seeking whom he may devour. There is a child, perhaps children counting on you not to give up but to pursue your calling of Mother with every fiber of your being.
Let me encourage you today, all of you dear, dear ladies: a mother is a beautiful thing; an emblem of grace and beauty; of survival and selflessness. Grace, mercy and peace… A gentle hand, a smiling eye, a patient response… …these are some of the great blessings in this life and you have the power to freely give them. Are you deserving of that forgiveness, of that grace, of that mercy Christ has brought to you? Neither are your children nor your husband worthy. Freely you have been given, freely give. Live today as one who holds the gracious trust of mother and dispense your influence wisely to those particular souls that have been positioned at your feet, on your lap, at your side by God Himself.
This devotion was delivered at a baby shower this spring.
As seasons of life change, Elizabeth happily remains desperately dependent upon her God. Three of her four children have now branched off to begin their own families. She is a homeschooling veteran and a faithful wife for over 30 years.