Last night, my son and I were reading through the book of Ruth together, and one verse jumped out at me that I’d never really noticed before. It was this one:
Ruth 4:11-12 Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.” [ESV]
If you’ve ever had the thought in the midst of potty training, wiping noses, and cleaning messes (of the toy and more…organictype), that there has to be more to motherhood than this, you would be right. Motherhood is far more than a list of mundane, albeit necessary, tasks. Motherhood is about building up a nation; and not just any nation. Though in a sense, we are (hopefully) building up a nation of responsible citizens for whichever country we are residents of, as Christians, we are part of building a different kind of nation.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:9-12 that we are “a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.“ Then he goes on to tells us what our mandate is. “As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people;now you are God’s people.Onceyou received no mercy;now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”
Show others the goodness of God, live properly among our unbelieving neighbors, keep away from worldly desires that wage war… Wait a minute, war??? On second thought, let’s just stick to changing diapers shall we? Suddenly this noble calling seems rather daunting doesn’t it?
What I love about our Heavenly Father, is that He never gives instructions without first offering provision to equip us to carry them out. Israel’s entire history was a living parable of trying to carry out God’s instructions (the Law) apart from His provision. It can’t be done. This is why Christ came! Our provision is in Christ, apart from whom we can do nothing. (John 15: 4-5)If we look back at the passage from Ruth we see that the elders say, “May the Lord make the woman…”, acknowledging that it is the Lord who would do the work in Ruth, to enable her to become a builder of the house of Israel like her counterparts Rachel and Leah. Then, just a few verses earlier in 1 Peter 2:4-5, Peter says this: As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Our first step is to humbly come to Him, then as we do, He builds us up as a spritual house. So really, it is not us building our house, and ultimately this holy nation, it is the Lord. In fact, Solomon reminds us that, “unless the Lord builds the house,those who build it labor in vain”. (Psalm 127:1) Could it be that in our moments of despair, when we feel we failed to live up to this noble calling the Lord has given us as mothers, it is because we are trying to build in our own strength apart from Christ?
Proverbs offers some strong words to mothers, “The wise woman builds her house on a foundation of godly precepts, and her household thrives,But the foolish one who lacks spiritual insight tears it down with her own hands by ignoring godly principles. ” Proverbs, 14: 1 [Amplified Version] When we are not building on Christ, and instead are building according to our own vision of what our “house” should look like, we are setting the stage for disaster. Essentially tearing down our house with our own hands! These words of Solomon’s are really an echo of Christ’s words as He closes His Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” [NLT]
There is a myth floating around out there in the mommy blogsphere that we need to stop believing that we aren’t enough for our children. On the one hand, in His wisdom God chose us to be the mothers of the children we have, and we are exactly the mothers they need. However, the truth of the matter is that though we are the mothers that they need, we aren’t all they need. If we were enough, our children wouldn’t need Christ, and the truth is, they most desperately do need Him, and so do we. Apart from Christ we aren’t enough. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. There is something very powerful that happens when we come to the end of ourselves, and cry out to Christ to take over, fill in the gaps, redeem what we’ve lost or ruined, and work it out according to His purpose, for our good, the good of our children and for His glory. Once the house we’ve built on the foundation of our own wisdom and wishes crashes to the sand, we can come to Christ and humbly ask Him to help us rebuild on the bedrock foundation of His Word, on Christ Himself. Talk about a dream house designed by a Master Designer!
Then on those days when we struggle to remember why we are disciplining our child for the same thing a mere 5 minutes after the last incident, or why we need to love on the child who is screaming their hatred of us for forcing them to eat their beans, or why we need to explain why we don’t think that television show is a good choice even though all their friends get to watch it, the Lord offers us an answer to our why in the words of Peter. You will notice there are three little words before the instructions are given in 1 Peter 2, Peter says, “As a result”…. Then do these things. So the question is, as a result of what? As a result of the fact that we are a chosen people, a holy nation, God’s own possession. Once we had no identity as a people;now we are God’s people.Once we received no mercy;now we have received God’s mercy. In other words, it’s because of who we are in Christ, and because of all we have experienced in Him, namely His mercy, that we have every reason to carry out our mission.
I want to close by encouraging you with these thoughts. The trivial yet necessary tasks we perform each day as mothers can take on new purpose as we embrace this high calling to join the crew of Nation-builders God is assembling. Yet, as we move to answer this calling, by building our house on a foundation of godly precepts, let us remember that His grace is sufficient for us, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness; weakness that Christ our Savior, who came in flesh, is able to sympathize with. Since it is this compassionate Savior who stands before God intereceding on our behalf, let us draw near to Him with confidence and ask for mercy and find grace and help in our times of need as we attempt to follow the blueprints of the Master Foreman in this Nation-building venture.