Last week we saw an example of a middle-aged mom facing a life-threatening disease, and the fear that plagued her as she was bombarded with these thoughts: “I am so afraid I may never live to see my daughter marry and have children.” “I am afraid I will never get to see my present grandchildren grow up.” “I am afraid I will have to leave my husband before we have a chance to grow old together.”
We saw in this mother’s life the tremendous power of this “essential prayer to live by:” “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24), and her shout of victory as God began to turn her overwhelming fear into triumphant faith.
Her three fears listed above all became stark realities in her life. She, indeed, never got to see her daughter’s marriage, her grandchildren grow up, or experience old-age with her husband.
She did, however, get to attend her own funeral, held on the lawn in her front yard, as she participated in it from her bed just inside an open window! It was a week before she died, and some two years after she wrote the email that I shared in the last posting.
As a result, we all, individually, got to tell her publically, to her face, how much she had meant to us over the years and the tremendous ministry she had had in all of our lives. It was a glorious time of tears because we would miss her desperately, but also tears of joy for the victory in which she faced her death and the anticipation of her home-going. She remained both a believer and an unbeliever until she died, and the debilitating fear was always just a heartbeat (or one negative medical test!) away.
However, her mind was renewed to live those last months in a completely new way, by faith, rather than by obedience to the law. She experienced, in this life, the results of that faith—love, joy and peace in the very midst of her illness—impacting literally everyone who knew her.
Most of us don’t face this same challenge in the battle to live by faith, but our struggles are just as tangible and persistent. Listen to this young, home-schooling mother of four children under the age of 11 describe, on her blog, the pressures she faces every day:
“I know how ugly it gets up inside my head; there’s no denying it. Sometimes motherhood is too big a sacrifice for me and I feel sorry for myself and take it out on my children. Sometimes I’m a terrible, selfish mother.
But I know that God never expected me to be anything but what I am, and I know I’m forgiven. I am always free to face it, to ask my children to forgive me too, just like God does. And they always do. They are better at being my kids than I am at being their mom. They are not bound by guilt. They are such great kids. I am so blessed.
Maybe you don’t struggle with this in exactly the same way. Maybe guilt looks different on you, but I’m sure you feel it too. It’s part of the job description. I always have to remind myself that each day is a new day. Who I am is no surprise to God. I am forgiven for yesterday and I am never going to be capable of perfection tomorrow–but nothing is riding on me! God is my perfect parent and believes in me. Not because I can do it right, but because I am unique. I bring myself into this home–all of the great parts of me and all of the ugly–and I was hand-chosen for these kids, for this life, and it is good.”
What do you think of this mom’s attitude? Is this statement (“I know that God never expected me to be anything but what I am, and I know I’m forgiven”) a rationalization for her failures?
No, it definitely is not! I believe that this approach to the problem at hand, as demonstrated by this young mother, is the only approach that guarantees, not success—who can define parenting success, even if there were such a thing?—but God’s hands-on, personal involvement in the process. Her blog posting is, in fact, the homemaker’s version of the scandalous gospel of the grace of God, beautifully expressed, and it is infinitely more powerful and life-giving to other mothers who read it than any doctrinal sermon or theological treatise will ever be!
The homemaker’s version of the gospel is facing one’s inadequacy to measure up to God’s standard for mothers in daily, real-life, pressure situations. This means that a mother finally recognizes that “no mother is a ‘Proverbs 31 woman,’ certainly not I,” and realizes it is the height of pride and arrogance for her to think she ever could be!
This means recognizing that God has her, right now, exactly where He wants her to be today, and she is completely satisfied there. While she is at peace there, He is teaching her to trust Him alone to change her, in His own time and His own way, into exactly what He wants her to be tomorrow, whether or not she ever sees any evidence of that.
Testimonies like this are proof that the scandalous gospel of the grace of God is on the march and will not be denied, as the “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14)!