mothers are ditches

what does God expect from me as a mother? i know what i expect of myself as a mother: my ideals, my impossible vision of perfection.  i am pretty clear on what society expects from me as a mother, in varying capacities.  but i have never stopped to ask what God might expect from me.  what is His ideal picture?  what is my part in raising this child & what is God's?  it is often quoted, "unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain" {psalm 127:1}.  and yet it is also simultaneously true that "the wise woman builds her home, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" {proverbs 14:1}.

i have been meditating in 2 kings recently over the story of king joram.  shortly after displacing evil king ahab from the throne, king joram began a journey to address some issues he was having with king mesha of moab.  a week into his travels, joram & his allies ran out of water. in desperation they sought the Lord's help.  and as He does, God answered them through a prophetic word from Elisha.  this is what he said:

"make this valley full of ditches. for this is what the Lord says: 
you will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water,
and you, your cattle & your other animals will drink.
this is an easy thing is the eyes of the Lord"
 {2 kings 3:16-18}

God in His mercy & grace, gave Joram & his allies the opportunity to collaborate with Him.  their part was the ditch digging, which is hard, sweat-of-the-brow, unromantic work.  but they became a part of the miracle: water filled those ditches & Moab was defeated.  

mothering is like ditch digging.  as mothers we can do everything in our power to influence & shape our children into strong faith filled individuals.  we can toil & strive all we like but unless the Lord is in it, it is just fruitless, sweaty effort.   we can expose them to every beneficial opportunity, teach them right from wrong, read them every life changing book available, pray for them incessantly, live the christian life before them.  but only God can give them spiritual life.  God doesn't need our help, but by His grace He chooses to include us, inviting us to actively take part, to collaborate with Him as He works in their lives. i can only point to the One who is my life source, i cannot be that life source nor can i force them to accept Him as their life source.  unless God works, my best efforts are in vain.  i cannot accomplish anything of eternal or spiritual value in my home or in the lives of my children without Him.  we can dig the ditches, but only He can fill them.

i read a story once of a frightened little girl who calls her mother repeatedly to her bedside.  her mother, exasperated, says, "sweetheart, mummy told you already you don't need to be frightened; God is with you." "i know," the little girl replied, "but i need someone here with skin on."

i am the skin.  i dig the ditches. 

this is a surprising relief to me.  the heavy weight of striving abolished.  no longer living tethered to a performance contract that has ransomed my children's fate & says perfection or fail.  just knowing that the very best possible parenting cannot produce a spiritually responsive child gives me such peace.  this is good news because i am not perfect but i am also not alone.  

so put the skin on, while remembering that unless God builds a house, labouring is in vain - being fully aware that every wise woman also builds her house alongside the master builder. the watchmen knows that it is God that guards the city.  the builder believes that it is God that does the real building.  and the mother recognizes that only God can make anything truly significant happen in her child's life.  the watchmen watches in faith, the builder builds in faith & the mother must mother in faith.

our very best mothering - cemented in faith & relationship with Him - is our part.  

"flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit"
{john 3:6}  

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