Learning of Him, pt.2

There is a reason why I no longer plant our vegetable garden. Although I idolize the notion of being a true, green-thumbed gardener, the proof is always in the pudding. And when hours of labor produce nothing except a few dull, yellow sprigs without so much of an ounce of fruit on them, I am inclined to pass that baton on to the man of the house and put my energy into something else. Like pudding. That I can make.

The humiliation doesn’t stop there. Not only have I failed at gardening, but some of my own little offspring have been more successful at it! Let this be a word of warning: if you give your kids pumpkins, or any other heavily seeded plant to play with, expect that thing to grow in abundance the following year. Despite having no carefully prepared soil, fertilizer, or day-to-day care, if planted by the hand of an innocent child, it will thrive.
I might be dramatizing things a bit – I am not that humiliated – but I will confess that being unsuccessful at something so simple as tending a small garden patch is rather humbling. Even more humbling is that care-free children can produce more fruit than their overly cautious mother. After all, shouldn’t the one who cares the most - the one working and sweating, investing, and sacrificing - have something to show for it? The problem is that not everything, in fact very little, is actually within our control.
If anything positive came from my failed attempts at gardening, it’s that it illustrated so eloquently to me my own shortcomings and opened my eyes to many lessons parallel to motherhood.

In previous articles, we have talked about the exhaustion of motherhood, as well as our need for rest and peace amid our labors [read here]. Then we recognized Jesus calling us to bend our necks under His yoke and allow Him to govern our steps in this monumental job of nurturing our children [read here]. And at the root of Christ’s invitation is humility.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”Matthew 11:29
This is not a new concept, the yoke, or Lordship of Christ. After all, isn’t that what salvation is all about - submitting to His will and letting Him lead? Yet our human tendency is to compartmentalize His Lordship to only certain parts of our life. May we never be guilty of relying on our “parenting skills” or past experiences to be our guide, but rely fully on the One who ran this race before us. That is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 11. He wants to be the One who guides us in every decision and action, AND He has full capacity to follow through and give us good success.

In Philippians, we are exposed to the mind of Christ – what He thought when faced with impossible tasks. And remember, Jesus was fully God and fully man. Because of this AND because He was fully successful in accomplishing God’s will, we can trust Him to navigate us through the day-to-day grind and trials of life.

So, then, what kind of example did Jesus leave for us to follow?

Philippians 2 says that He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Jesus humbled Himself by stooping to humanity. He submitted Himself to the same boundaries that you and I face every day. We have limited time and energy. We often get tired and hungry. We feel alone and discouraged. All these things Jesus experienced, too. We learn through Christ’s example that true humility is living within the boundaries that God has ordained for our individual lives. These include…

Physical Limitations

We need rest, exercise, and good nutrition to flourish. Sometimes we can hate these boundaries, especially as we age, but I believe it is an act of humility to take time to care for our physical needs in whatever season we find ourselves. Our pride certainly screams, “I can do it all!” But if we allow the Lord to make our priority list, He will give us the strength and the grace that we need to get done only those things He deems as necessary.

Mental Limitations

With our minds as the battleground, it is imperative that we reset it daily by the washing of the Word. Every day we must put on the helmet of salvation, reassuring our faith in Christ, and deferring our thinking and our will to Him. Our mental health appears to be closely knit to our physical and spiritual vitality or apathy. When we care for our bodies the way we should, our thinking improves exponentially (something about endorphins). And when our hearts and minds stay on Christ, our spiritual eyes are opened and are seeing very clearly.

Spiritual Limitations

Even from the first week of creation, God instituted a Sabbath, a day set aside for worshipping Him. We NEED this! (Cue the CoVid-19 I-missed-my-church whine…) We not only need a day dedicated to worship but we also need a church, the place where our faith is strengthened and our resolve for loving God and loving people (even difficult people) is lived out.

Christ had spiritual limitations, too. Yes, He is God and can do anything. However, in the Gospels we read about multitudes of people not being healed, not being changed, not being saved because of their unbelief. Likewise, we have limits in our ability to influence and reach others. The temptation is to compare ourselves and think, “if I only had that opportunity or if I was only in that position…if I didn’t have this chronic illness, if I didn’t have to work this job, if I wasn’t stuck at home… then I could really make an impact!” I have learned that despite my limitations, whenever I choose to submit this to God, He ALWAYS opens a door of opportunity to make some spiritual contribution in the life of another.

Just like my unsuccessful veggie patch, what I don’t need in order to be successful is more resolve, more hours of labor, more blood, sweat, and tears. What I need is a professional, someone with experience in the ins and outs of gardening, to come along beside me and show me how to grow a delicious tomato.

The same goes for our parenting. Christ understands our limitations and He has all the answers. He invites us to come and learn of Him. To become meek and lowly, that is teachable and humble, in heart. And that, my dear fellow mom, is quite a comfort to this weary soul.


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