“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because He trusts in You.” (American Standard Version with thee's replaced.)
Motherhood seems to be a journey of navigating changes. Just about the time you figure out one phase, you’re on to the next… at different times, with different personalities, that require different techniques. If you aren’t already comfortable with change — God is going to work on that. :)
As a christian wife and mother, our first ministry is to our family; I have found it so easy to get caught up in the doing: change her diaper, nurse her, feed him, clean poop (whether his or hers), nurse her, pick up at least some portion of the house, change his diaper - oh, drink your water! - nurse her - wait, when am I going to eat? - keep things civil between the siblings, sleep when the baby… wait, how do I get them to sleep at the same time?
I get so focused on the urgency of the doing. Knowing it’s a fulfillment of my ministry to the Lord, my doing becomes the gauge on which I judge my walk with God… and I start to judge my worth by my walk, which puts my worth in constant flux based on my performance. Yet neither my worth, nor my relationship with God are based on my doing, but on the unchanging God, and what He has done, and is doing in my life. He always remains constant. He is the Rock to which we cling in the shifting circumstances of this crazy, beautiful, temporary life. He has poured out His grace on us through His only Son to credit us with His righteousness. And that never changes. My performance - or even how well I’m doing in my walk with God - has no bearing on my worth.
When I focus on Him - stay my mind on Him - I don’t see what I can or cannot do; I begin to see what He can do. I start to realize no matter what I do or don’t get done, His grace is greater. No matter how I mess up with my kids, His grace is greater. No matter what this world throws at us mothers - or throws at our kids - God’s grace is always greater.
When I stay my mind on Him, my perspective begins to change. My goals become less important - and I begin to compare my goals with His goals. My goals often have way more doing than His. But really, His main goal is defined in Romans 8:28-29: to make us more like Christ, which benefits us and brings Him glory.
The following passage is often split into many different sections, but I think it’s also important to consider it all together.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For your sake we are being put to death all day we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Concentrating on doing brings us joy or guilt based on our performance. Concentrating on Christ and the far-reaching effects of what He has done for us brings us joy in every circumstance. I don’t mean you’ll be happy when grieving; I mean you’ll have the peace of knowing God is using this for the good of His children and for His glory.
Trust Him and what He has promised. Lean not on your own understanding. Meditate on His ways in the watches of the night. Dwell on His goodness, His mercy, His love so great that He’s willing to do the hard things. Then make it real to yourself by purposefully being thankful for it. “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11
Now I chose Isaiah 26:3, because I think it describes the idea most succinctly. But there's a similar verse in Psalm 1:2-3:
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
I love this passage as a reminder. God and His Word is the root which can grow us into beautiful trees. This doesn’t mean the tree won’t need pruning. And neither is the tree expected to produce fruit out of season, but in its own time, according to the Lord’s direction.
It’s important to note this passage is also a Psalm, and while it gives impeccable advice, it is not a promise. As a general rule, when we follow God’s Word, we do well. Yet God also teaches us through trials with the aim of perfecting us; it’s often how we learn best. This may look like failure to us… yet our inability to get everything done on our list is not the measure of our success. In fact, God uses that inability to teach us how to prioritize, to ask for help, to keep us humble and reliant on Him - and myriad other custom-tailored lessons His Holy Spirit teaches us. Each and every circumstance is not a measure of our worth, but of His grace. He always has the victory.
One other example of His victory and grace is when I mess up with my kids. When I let my temper flare and I snap at them… despite my failure, God turns it into a success. It gives me the opportunity to apologize to my kiddos, and to teach them how to deal with their own failures. To show them what I should have done, and where I should have turned. God’s grace is not shown in our supposed perfection, but in our weakness. God always has the victory.
Nothing has taught me this so well and clearly, as being a mother - especially twice a mother, with a little boy and girl! I thank and praise the Lord for this gracious gift, and pray for His help to stay my mind on Christ - and smile at the future. What trial has God used to teach you something you might not have learned any other way?