Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Fear of the Lord

Job 28:28
"And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.'"

I think you’ll agree when I say motherhood is a beautiful gift of the Lord - but we don’t always feel that way. Motherhood as a christian demands a diligent, patient, and joyful self-sacrifice day in and day out. When the hundredth question has passed their lips for the third time, while you’re trying to remember: how much flour did I just put in? - and also just remembered you forgot to turn the timer on for something else, and then you hear a crash in the other room from another child… it can get pretty difficult to focus on the hope and grace of an eternal God rather than the circumstances of the present.

And then there are the things we want to do and accomplish. The gifts we want to use, but don’t really have time for. Or the goals and dreams we want to work toward, but end up working toward others’ goals instead. We often mention the rewards of motherhood: the snuggles and smiles, belly laughs and eureka moments, and the times when God has brought about understanding of a key spiritual concept (which we often want at least a little credit for). Yet, in the face of the things I want, and the goals I have, I often struggle with those rewards being enough. Yes, that little hug brings a smile to my face, but what I REALLY want is… fill in the blank. My focus shifts, and I lose my joy.

But that’s the beauty of God’s grace. He knows exactly where we are, and exactly what we need - whether or not that matches up with what we think. He loves us too much to let us have our own way, if it isn’t best. To be completely honest, had it been entirely up to me, I would not have chosen motherhood. Kids never have been my thing. But God doesn’t call the equipped… He equips the called. He has called me to be a mother… and not just for my husband, or my children. He has also called me to be a mother for me. Much as I may not want to admit it sometimes, I need motherhood.

God has been working on me a lot in this - especially in the past couple of weeks. In fact, He’s torn my building from its foundations, shaken it around a bit to get out some of the rotten boards, and then held it midair with me still in it while He’s ripped out and repoured some of my foundations. I might be just to the point where He’s set me back down and begun replacing the missing boards on the new foundation. It’s not the first time He’s done this, and it won’t be the last; I’m sure some of you can relate.

I’m going to share with you a conversation I had with my husband via text. I was brutally honest with him, so it shows exactly what I - and what I think many of us - struggle with, and also shows the truths I need to combat them with.

Me: Sooo… I’m fighting depression and anxiety. Do you know of another Scripture about parenthood/kids being a blessing? I think I don’t believe I’m a good mother, and that I can get better. I’m scared I’m going to screw up my kids. I get overwhelmed by all the things the kids need - mostly for school. I feel like I’m the only driving force behind James getting any work done. And it’s another thing on my plate. I’m a little confused because I think I have the time, but emotionally it’s hard. 

Husband: Don’t forget that it doesn’t all rely on you. All you can do is your best and that’s not enough on its own. Trust that God is the one working in the lives of our kids and that He will accomplish His purpose in them. God doesn’t need you to be a great mother. He wants you to trust and obey Him. He will be the one to work in the kids’ lives. 
Me: How do I deal with not wanting to be a mother?

Husband: Focus on wanting to honor God and bring Him glory through your life. You are serving Him when you are caring for the needs of the kids. 

Me: I’ve been having a hard time with that. I’m being really selfish. Right now I just want to do what I want to do. I know God’s way is better, but I don’t see it. 

Husband: Then you need to ask God to help you repent. Ask Him to help you see how you are idolizing your desires over worshipping him. 

Me: I know I’m idolizing myself - I’m not seeing why He’s better. 

Husband: Then go back to the end of the book of Job. That’s a good reminder that he is God and you are not. 

Me: But that only holds fear, not joy. 

Husband: You need some fear right now. If you don’t see why God is better than you you won’t be able to enjoy him. You can’t have joy without humility.”

As you can see, God used my husband to throw out a number of nuggets, but that last one really hit me. Even in those moments, I understood. I needed to fear God - not the kind that feared punishment, but the kind that recognized His awesome power and might, so I could “Humble [myself] under the mighty hand of God… casting all my anxiety on Him, because He cares for [me].” 1 Peter 5:6-7 

So I did - I opened the book of Job and started reading from chapter 38 through 41. It was a great blessing! It’s not like everything was peaches and cream after that, but it really helped ground me and my emotions. Part of me really wants to quote you the whole passage, because it took reading the entire thing to really drive home how great God is during those moments. However, for the sake of time, I’ll give you a couple highlights that seemed to convey the core of the ideas I needed.

Job 40:8-14 ~ God is speaking and says, “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? Or do you have an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His? Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity, and clothe yourself with honor and majesty. Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him, and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them in the dust together; bind them in the hidden place. Then I will also confess to you, that your own right hand can save you.”

Job 41:10-11 ~ God just finished describing the might of Leviathan and says, “No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him; who then is he that can stand before Me? Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.”

How’s that for humbling?

So… when I’m struggling with not wanting motherhood because I’m focused on what I’d rather be doing - whether it be using talents or getting rest - my focus needs to shift to recognize how big and great God is. When I bring my focus to bear on the fact that, “the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains…” (Psalm 24:1a), I’m reminded that He’s given me everything I have - including those talents I’m wanting to use. And that rest that I can’t seem to get? Does God not have sovereign control over my circumstances? Does He not know best and cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”? Romans 8:28

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10

The fear of the Lord is to focus on Him and all that He is, and to then realize who we are. We have nothing to offer Him, but He has made us His children. Praise God and obey His calling, and He will see to the rest.

A small side note: once I was able to shift my focus to humility, thankfulness, and praise, God showed me something else. He wouldn’t give me talents I couldn’t use in His calling of me to be a mother. So instead of focusing on how much I wanted to use my gifts the way I understood - outside my calling, I need to continue to spend my time considering how I can put my gifts to use within my calling. 

So I leave you with this: motherhood is humbling, and we need to be humbled. Remember that while God called us to this, He doesn’t expect us to do the whole job - He’s working, too. In fact, He’s the driving force enabling our work. He calls us to trust and obey Him - He’ll take care of the rest. 

The snuggles and hugs, and ability to watch them grow are rewarding - but so are the trials for those who choose to follow God, because once God has brought you to the other side, you’ll be stronger, wiser, and more like Christ.

I thank the Lord for the "fear of the Lord," and how He has revealed more to me of how the concept applies to the Christian life. Praise the Lord for His goodness and grace! How can you turn to the fear of the Lord in your circumstances?