I was asked to offer some words of encouragement for a first time mom's baby shower at our church a couple months ago. I have finally edited it from my rough speaking notes to an only semi-polished draft, and am posting it here because I have lost track of which of my friends have asked for a copy.
Also, averaging one post every other year seems like a doable pace for me...
The most glorious tasks do not look glorious. They do not feel super spiritual. It’s a confusing phenomenon, really. Glory is usually accomplished through grit.
We see this in our Bible. The places where God reveals His glory most are among some of the worst conditions. Take the incarnation of Jesus. A scandalous marriage, a dingy stable, and rugged shepherds. Or his miracles: feeding hot, tired, hungry people in a field. Healing the unclean lepers. Reclining with sinners and tax collectors. Or go back to the Old Testament and look at the flood. (Think about the devastation and death and mud that paved the way to a rich promise and a vibrant rainbow!) Think of the anguish of the Hebrews working as slaves that led to the glorious exodus as God miraculously delivered his people and renewed his covenant with them. Even his method of deliverance, with the plagues of Egypt, revealed his glory through the most horrifying (and just gross) circumstances. Bugs and boils and so much loss.
Adam himself was formed from the dust of the ground.
God isn't scared of grit and grime. He uses it, and shocks everyone with how much glory he can bring from the ashes.
The greatest moment of glory, the climax of God’s masterful storytelling, comes when his son is murdered, and buried in the dirt. It didn’t make any sense to the disciples. It was not as it should be. Jesus was the king! The Christ! The long awaited, anointed Son of God!
But through the dirt, God gave His Son more glory than our finite minds could have ever imagined.
What am I getting at? Glory comes through yucky things.
As a mother, you are being given a glorious task. Changing culture, one little life at a time, is a high calling (and hard work). I remember the anticipation I had before Asher was born about how excited I was to get to work on the kingdom of God through what our pastor fondly refers to as the “original church growth program.” I knew it would be hard work and that there would be spit up and dirty diapers and lots of discipline, and that was all true.
But I didn’t realize how muddy it would get. Not literally— although there is that too—but I’m talking mirky. Things get confusing. Our bodies get tired. Our selfishness is exposed, and laundry becomes a serious spiritual issue I never, ever, ever anticipated! I love Rachel Jankovic’s analogy of running on a treadmill. She said before she had kids that she thought parenting would be like running on a treadmill. She knew it would be hard, but she had her running shoes. She was ready. But what she didn’t expect was being pelted by potatoes while someone kept increasing the speed and incline on the machine!
Constantly dodging potatoes has a way of throwing you off your balance.
Motherhood is intense. You’ve had the blessing of being old enough to witness your mom raising little ones, but even still, it will be different from what you’ve imagined. Wildly different. And you will find yourself genuinely wondering how it is possible for even a tiny spark of glory to come from finally tackling that pile of hand washing that’s been cluttering the sink, despite the fact that you know it’s true.
The grit of motherhood can weigh you down, piling all kinds of false accusations on you. You will wonder if you’re doing it right. You’ll often times fight feelings of failure. You’ll see your sins presenting themselves in the lives of your children and be tempted to despair.
But that is not good, because it is not from the Holy Spirit. And guilt is a horrible motivator.
When things feel heavy, and messy, and you’re overwhelmed with the load of seemingly insignificant work on your shoulders, you have to remember what God does with mud.
Motherhood is a blessed calling to gritty glorification. We mothers have been given a unique position in our culture. We have been given the most tedious, minuscule little tasks as we tend to and care for the children in our homes. Snotty noses, temper tantrums, sticky peanut butter and wet beds. What a mess! But what a joy to know what comes from messes like these.
This is how God works. He takes the ugly and makes it beautiful beyond reckoning. When things feel murky, press on. Look with the eyes of faith to see the glory ahead. And work with joy, knowing that God is the one who gathers the harvest and turns the grit into gold.