This is a guest post by Gloria Furman. Her newest book is Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms.
Vomit and Verses
“Why do they always come to my side of the bed when they need to throw up?” I asked my husband an honest question.
One of our kids was sick that day, so it was time to put on the Nurse Mommy hat (and poncho). I changed cold compresses on her head, rinsed out her vomit bucket, held a drinking straw to her lips, kept the healthy kids under control, and made a mental note to call my own mom and thank her for all the times she did this for me.
Somewhere in the middle of laundering soiled bed sheets, I read that day’s Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 2. In this chapter, Paul tells Timothy that he must rely on God’s grace to fulfill his calling as a disciple-maker. And here I was up to my elbows with a very tangible illustration of my own need for grace to do what God has called me to do.
The daily (and nightly) disciple-making work of mothering makes us increasingly aware of our need to be “strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).
Even though the metaphors Paul uses in this particular passage aren’t your typical descriptions of motherhood, it’s not hard to catch a glimpse of disciple-making motherhood through the eyes of a soldier, athlete, and farmer (2 Timothy 2:1-7).
A mother participates in making disciples of Jesus as she invests her life in the work of evangelizing and discipling her children in every day life. It has been said that moms lead more people to Jesus than do evangelistic events and outreach programs. Consider the examples that Paul uses to encourage Timothy in his calling and see how they relate to motherhood. Like faithful soldiers, we are diligent even with the small things because we aim to please the Lord. Like persistent athletes who compete with integrity, we aim to stay focused on what the Lord has given us to do. Like hard-working farmers, we invest our everyday lives into our children and pray expectantly that God would produce fruit that will last.
You may have read on a greeting card somewhere that motherhood is not for the faint of heart. But I don’t buy it; motherhood must be for the faint of heart. Disciple-making like a soldier/athlete/farmer-mom means that we need to be strengthened by God’s grace to do the routine, hard work that moves the gospel forward.
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Bringing order out of kitchen chaos and subduing the algebra homework with your kids sounds like a demeaning job description to the world. But the disciple-making work of motherhood is part of something bigger than simply keeping the dust bunnies at bay.
We nurture life in light of the long-view of motherhood. When we look out and see the effects of the Fall “as sin reigned in death,” we don’t despair. We look to the cross and remember that, because of Jesus’ substitutionary death, “grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).
We nurture life in the face of death to the praise of God’s glory in all of our work. Being “pro” life means you are for that person’s life (especially their spiritual life) in every way and at all times. And there’s no way a busy mom can love like that unless she sees how she has been loved like that.
We are loved by God in ways that our sin-besotted hearts cannot comprehend. Even after our first parents sinned in the Garden and God justly pronounced a curse, a blessing for mankind could still be heard. God promised a Rescuer. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise our head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Thousands of years later, a virgin gave birth to a son. His tiny little feet would ultimately turn into serpent-crushing feet. God sent his Son, Jesus, to do the work of subduing his enemy and rescuing his children by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. The long-view of motherhood looks way past potty training and high school graduation to scan the horizon of eternity, where the incarnate Son of God is risen and reigning.
Making Disciples in the Living Room
Our children are included in panta ta ethne (“all the nations”) of the Great Commission. Jesus’s assurances that he has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18) and that he is with us always “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20) are ours for the keeping and believing in our everyday disciple-making.
The world isn’t going to give you a medal for wiping vomit off the floor. Paparazzi aren’t waiting in the bushes outside your house trying to snap a photo of you praying for your kids. But your prayer-full, hope-filled work of evangelism and discipleship—done through the strengthening grace of Jesus—gives him praise that echoes in eternity.
And that moves all of heaven to rejoice.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and she blogs regularly at Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and GloriaFurman.com.