A Tree Planted by Streams of Water: A Busy Mom's Unhurried Time with God
Motherhood Stretches More Than Our Bodies
I had my first child at the age of 29, 3 years into my marriage. Pregnancy didn't come for me as quickly as I would have desired, but when it did come, it brought both great delight and great fatigue. Motherhood is a blessing that often carries hard days and long nights--as well as tremendous joy.
Motherhood stretches not just our bodies. It stretches our attention and time, filling them with care for others. Our hands are filled with many things -- homes, husbands, children, jobs, churches, responsibilities, schedules, friends, and the constant temptation to stay in-the-know of the hashtags, the trends, and the news.
We are busy mothers with full hands and perhaps you have heard it said (or maybe you’ve asked the question yourself): “how can I find time for God's Word when most days I can't even escape to the bathroom unattended?”
I hear those words and yet I insist, sister you must treasure the Word of God, even (or perhaps, especially) when our hands are full. Here’s why.
God’s Word Is No Empty Word for You
Two chapters away from his death, we find Moses singing in Deuteronomy chapter 32. His song retells the story of Israel's wayward journey and extols her covenant God. Knowing that his death is near, Moses ends his singing with this admonition: “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).
I thought of Moses's words in Deuteronomy 32:47 a few weeks ago and was absolutely struck by them. God's words to His covenant people in Deuteronomy were not mere idle language but their very life. It was through their knowledge and obedience of God's Word that Israel would remain in The Promised Land. Deuteronomy 28 was very clear: Israel would know blessings for her obedience to God's Word and curses for her disobedience--among which would be death and exile.
There is no physical land in which you and I must strive to abide yet Moses’ admonition in Deuteronomy 32:47 remains relevant to us today. God’s Word is no empty word for you but your very life. Just consider the below.
Jesus’ Prayer For You
When we swing from Deuteronomy to the Gospel of John, chapter 17, we find another man, who like Moses, is close to death. Two chapters away from His crucifixion, knowing that His hour was near, Jesus prays for his disciples and for all who would come to believe in Him through their word. Our Lord prays this in John 17:17: “[Father,] Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
With the cross before Him, Christ petitions for our sanctification in the truth--and He defines truth as the Word of God. God's Word is no idle word for you and me because it is the primary means of our sanctification--the process by which we are made to look more like Jesus.
Susanna Wesley’s Apron
Susanna Wesley was the wife of an Anglican pastor and the homeschooling mother of 19 children. She suffered the loss of several children and experienced severe financial constraints; her family lost their home in a fire and her husband was often absent throughout the course of their marriage. Susanna Wesley was a woman with full and weighted hands. And perhaps knowing the extent of her burdens, she was desperate for life.
A story is told of Wesley, unable to find a quiet corner in her home, throwing her apron over her head, a signal to her children not to disturb her, as she fed her soul with unhurried time with God. I do not doubt that those moments under the apron made Wesley a better woman and a better mother for she ate the food from which we grow to look more like Jesus.
Susanna Wesley is the worthy example. But just in case the seventeenth hundreds seems a bit far to relate to, I offer the story of a mother living today.
Gloria Furman’s Hands
Gloria Furman is also a pastor's wife and mother of four living in Dubai. Gloria's husband Dave is disabled--he began to lose the function of his arms after their marriage. Gloria’s hands must tend to the needs of Dave and to their children: She ties her husband's shoelaces and buttons his shirts; she fastens his seat-belt and secures car seats; she carries the children, does the laundry, lifts the grocery bags, and drives the family. Gloria's hands are full. But according to her, they are full and overflowing with God's gifts. She writes this in her book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full:
“[We] must make an effort to remember that our job is more than feeding, bathing, clothing, and facilitating education for our children. These tasks are meaningful in and of themselves because they are part of the stewardship God has given us. As Christian mothers, God calls us to live with something we can see only with spiritual eyes--eternity. ...I want to love God's word all day when I'm entrenched in the mundane work around my house. I want to meditate on God's promises and praise him and remember him when I'm up with the baby at midnight and at 3 a.m. …God's Word can raise our gaze to the horizon of eternity.”
And sisters, eternity is precisely the place I would hope for our eyes to rest as you read.
The Gospel Is Better Than Moralism
A topic on Bible reading can easily lean toward moralism, a check on our lists to make us feel more Christian and more secure. Perhaps there are some reading who are great at managing time with a capacity for and inclination toward deep Bible studies. Topics like this resonate with you and your heart is singing “Amen” as you read.
And then there are those who struggle. Finding moments for a rich study of God's Word feels like a test you cannot pass. Maybe you are even burdened by your lack of interest for or understanding of the Bible. You read the examples of women like Susanna Wesley and Gloria Furman and there is a temptation to compare and despair.
Wherever you fall within that spectrum my encouragement today is to let your eyes rest on eternity. Seated there is the One who died and was raised for your justification (Romans 4:25). He Himself is your sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30). The work is finished. By His sinless life, His death, and His resurrection, He has suffered your judgment and He gives you His righteousness and you don’t read your Bible in order to make up for His work.
Sisters, there is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ who don't read their Bibles everyday. But this news should never excuse us from our labor in the Word--instead, it ought to motivate us towards it. Because Christ our justifier has become our treasure, we make every effort to know and abide in Him through the Word. We go to God's Word to meet Jesus, who is our life (John 17:3).
So Is That You?
Does the good news of the gospel propel you toward the Savior and His Word? Is there an honest desire to press toward sanctification through the study of God’s Word? Are you eager to go to Christ, The Living Water, or are you sipping from other streams without satisfaction? Are you pulled away by many strings that keep you from the feet of Jesus or are you hacking away every unnecessary diversion for the sake of resting in Christ, your treasure (Luke 10:38-42)?
My personal version of Psalm 1:1-3 reads this way: “Blessed is the mom who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But her delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law she meditates day and night. She is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all she does, she prospers.”
Sisters, delight in His law. You might be the woman nursing a baby at night with a Bible in one hand. You might drive your family around with an audio Bible filling the car with Words of life, you might meet with a group of others for an expositional Bible study. You might eat your lunch at work with earphones pumping rich sermons into your soul. Whatever it is, meditate on God’s Word day and night. Drink it in like a tree planted by streams of water. For this Word is no empty word for you, but your very life.