“When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’” Matthew 10:14 (NIV).
The half-drunk cup of coffee is a running joke in our family. At the end of many a day, my husband will find my half-empty cup of coffee sitting cold on the counter. With six children underfoot, the morning ritual was of course interrupted by the baby’s cry, by the toddler needing help at the potty, by the fight which needed breaking up, and so on.
There’s a glorious inefficiency to motherhood. It doesn’t seem to matter the task, there are always ample interruptions.
There are points in my day where I do nothing but hold. The baby needs holding because he is fussing, the toddler wakes up from his nap grumpy, the seven-year old skinned his knee.
By the time the day is done, the tasks are still half-done, like my half-drunk cup of coffee. Maybe you are no longer in this stage of motherhood, but how often we all find this tantalizing satisfaction “of finishing” that eludes us.
When it comes to motherhood, perhaps it is because the work of raising children is so abstract, that we long to complete anything. But in our lust for completion, the actual people in our lives—the relationships—can come to be seen as impediments to progress.
I find the story of Jesus and the little children so helpful in this. Notice how in the story of Jesus and the children, how the disciples are carefully trying to protect the teacher from interruptions. Jesus obviously has important work to do; he doesn’t have time for this! But Jesus rebukes them.
So here’s another perspective: maybe the most important work is not what we think it is. Maybe finishing the grocery list, answering a client’s email, or even (gasp!) completing every question in our personal or small group Bible study isn’t what God wants us to attend to at the moment.
One of my favorite quotes about Christ’s transforming work comes from artist, Vincent Van Gogh. He wrote: “Christ is more of an artist than the artists; he works in the living spirit and the living flesh, he makes men instead of statues.”
Perhaps, mothers (and all those who mother spiritually) work with Him in this same domain. This spiritual work of discipleship doesn’t thrive in the world of efficiency. Sometimes it’s a work we don’t even know where to begin with it or when exactly it’s done. It happens along the way. It is a work which happens in cooperation with the Spirit of God and only through His empowering, but it requires our action and focus, nonetheless. It is a work which does not belong to us, isn’t completed by us, and yet somehow, we get to participate in it.
Did you have to stop loading the dishwasher to teach a child to share? You work with Christ in living spirit and living flesh.
Did you have to put a pause on supper to help a teenager acknowledge his wrong and say he’s sorry? You are working with Christ shaping souls, not statues.
Did you do “nothing” today, but hold a baby, comfort your sick six year-old, or help your senior work on college financial aid forms. Maybe it’s time to realize that our love, and the life of Christ we can share in the midst of even the seemingly most mundane mothering tasks are not the interruptions, but the work itself. Maybe it’s time to realize that you are working with Christ in the realm of something which will outlast time itself.
Lord, help me to see my children or the people you have providentially placed in my life as the masterpiece and not the interruption. Help me to see my cup, not as half-empty, but overflowing with opportunities.
For Deeper Study
”For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT).
How does knowing that human image-bearers are masterpieces change where we see value? Does it help to know that God has already planned every good work he has for you?
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