"Go home." The title of today's post rang clear this early morning. I woke up and as I began praying, this entire post unfolded, some words repeating themselves over and over, forceful, but from a heart I know overflows with love for us and our families.
"Go Home." It was a call to hearts. For hearts to move out of whatever city they had wandered, run, or climbed to and back to the place they came from.
I read a post from a woman named Mary Williams who shared a post I wrote yesterday about how children are our first ministry. I pay attention now to what God places before my eyes online. I follow hundreds, maybe thousands, of pages but this single post with a screenshot from that post was at the top of my feed as if highlighted. A lot of people tag me in things I never see, but this one was there.
She wrote about how after a tumultuous divorce, her father moved out of her childhood home. Her mother ran to the open doors of the church to seek refuge from her pain and broken heart. While working full time, her mother decided to go to Bible college to pursue a pastoral degree.
Meanwhile, at 14, she was going through the worst depression of her life. She was alone most of the time and left to tend to herself. She began drinking and smoking, acting out, she said, to deal with her own broken heart.
One day, her mother's bible study professor pulled her into his office to confront her on the terrible time she was giving her mother and after she broke down sobbing, telling him she needed her mother, the teacher responded by telling her that her mother isn't hers, she's God's and He wants to use her mightily for Him and that she needed to release her to Him.
She went on to say how abandoned she felt. Insignificant. It began a spiral into more alcohol, more drugs, older men and running away from God.
It took her years to recover and she no longer faults her mother, God, or the church but wrote how that experience keeps her in check today when the balance of home ministry and church ministry are out of balance.
She ended with, "Don't be so busy tending to other people's flocks that you forget to shepherd your own."
Mothers. I speak only to mothers because while fathers are critical, I have only been given words to speak to my own.
Our children are our first and most important ministry.
I too enrolled in Bible school once. I heard very clearly from God that I would be in full-time ministry and wanted to be equipped. I felt a clear pull to enroll despite the fear I had surrounding it. I was already stretched thin in every way, I had no family or support system, no baby sitter or grandma that could jump in to assist and was driving nearly five hours a day to get everyone where they needed to be. But I wanted to heed the call of God.
To say it fell apart was the understatement of the century. While I learned amazing things in the classroom, the little quality time I had with my children was pinched and bittered because I was even more stressed trying to get it all done. My volunteer hours, making sure I made it to each service. It's something that would have been a piece of cake if I were in my twenties or had just myself to think about, but with three children who don't just need meals, laundry, and homework help but one-on-one time, checked in time, fun time, hugging time, children who need loving? And doing it with no support? I was dry. I was on edge. We all suffered.
One time, my son didn't have school and I placed him in the back of the classroom on a blanket with snacks, books, and his iPad. I was so stressed, I cried. I had nowhere else to take him but was committed to making it work somehow. I knew next time I would have to leave him and my youngest daughter home by themselves. At this point I didn't know if it was God or my own ambition driving me but the cost to my family was clear.
In the end, I had to leave and it was a messy departure. In the beginning I felt like I'd failed. I asked God, "Did I hear You wrong?" and kept looking for another place to learn, one more aligned with my schedule, until I felt Him point me back to my children. "There. That's your ministry."
A peace came over me and back into my life. I went back home. I still had my work, I had my responsibilities, but in that moment my heart went back home.
This post isn't about working versus not working- many mothers have to work. It's not a post about higher education and having children. My mother went to dental school when I was a child and it's how our family got out of poverty. It's about where my heart was and about what God is specifically asking of you.
When my heart was in businesses, I was chronically ambitious and motherhood often felt like a burden I needed to work out. Work out the childcare, work out dinner. I didn't outsource my work tasks or have any work/life boundaries because to me, the hustle, that stress was how I knew I was doing something important. "Look at all I'm doing!"
So when my heart was longing to be used by God, to have significance to Him in a new way- not in the quiet steady rhythm of home life, no, surely He needs me to go somewhere, run around and add many thing to my schedule, right? I forgot that I already have significance to Him as His daughter. My heart was drawn out of the home and my feet rushed to keep up.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Marta welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Miryam, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.'
And Yeshua answered and said to her, "Marta, Marta, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Miryam has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10: 38-42 (Complete Jewish Bible)
I used to read this and resent Miryam a little bit. I mean, things do need to get done. As silly at it may sound, I read it and wondered how I was supposed to get the things in life I had to do done. Wouldn't we all like to sit at Jesus' feet, but people need to eat.
God explained to me that to sit at Yeshua's feet is a heart posture that can be maintained all the time. Acknowledging who Jesus is, soaking in His presence and turning my face and ear to Him is a state of my heart. I do this in the quiet mornings when we are alone but my heart can be the same in all things, even while cooking. That's what Marta was missing. She was serving with her hands and feet, her heart was turned toward the chaos, not the Savior in her midst and that's why she was so stressed.
Before giving birth to my first child, I took a class on natural childbirth. It was taught by a mother of five. She showed us how to breath and stay relaxed during contractions, explaining how when they're tensed up against, they're more painful than they have to be. That knowledge saved me during my daughter's birth and I remembered it with each labor.
Motherhood is like that. When fought against, when not fully surrendered to, it's miserable and difficult. But when relaxed into, when submerged into its warm and messy waters, the joy is indescribable. It's the difference between the wildness of nature and the wildness of war.
This is not about mothers not serving or being in ministry. It's about what the woman above shared. "Don't be so busy tending to other people's flocks that you forget to shepherd your own."
In prayer this morning, I heard that God will not divide a home. He will not divide a home He has put together.
While researching Bible schools, I came across one that does not allow a husband or wife to move to attend the college without their spouse. I read their policy and knew why. They would not contribute to a home being divided.
God is the same. He loves mothers. He created motherhood. He designed women to be so close to their children, their first food came from their bodies alone. *Listen, I've used formula a lot, this isn't a shot.
If something you think you are doing for God has caused you to be a in a position where you are pulled significantly away from your child, it's time to examine it. Examine it, thoroughly.
While praying, I saw something that is difficult for me to say. It was a woman speaking to a packed house in a theater, a concert type, the kind with thousands of people at all levels in rafters, with lights and roaring applause. It was an impressive production. There were thousands and thousands of people. And then, in another place, like a split screen, there was a child slightly older than a toddler, maybe three or four, and the heart of the child was praying, not in words but in a kind of crying yearning, very much a child's type of cry but silent and it was going straight to God.
God hears the wordless prayers of our children for us and will pull us back to them on their behalf. He will use whatever it takes to do so. Pay attention. Perhaps there is someone reading this who things have gotten difficult for at home, the solution isn't always to punish, children act certain ways out of need at time because they do not have the tools to communicate in any other way.
We are so busy these days. We have places to go, people to see, meetings. Important things, right?
God is calling the hearts of mothers to their children.
Some will read this and believe I'm telling every woman to quit her job. I will work today. But my heart does not belong to my job anymore and the needs of my family supersede it. It is not of myself, every single day, every moment, He helps me in this.
Mothers, He sees us. He values us. There is value in slicing up an apple. There is beauty in laying on the couch watching a movie with a child. There is value in sitting on the grass outside blowing bubbles. There is beauty in being there when they need you.
Your station as a mother is not by accident. You are called to it, anointed for it. There is oil dripping down your face every morning as you rise to walk in this beautiful position.
When Jochebed, Moses' mother placed him in the basket, even though he made his way safely to another, God sent him back to her.
There are children who are being sent back to their mothers. These children were sent adrift- physically, mentally, or emotionally- by desperate mothers who had weathered attacks against their hearts and homes. But the God who moves the current is sending them back from amongst the reeds.
You are being given another chance, against the odds, to raise them and nurse them not with physical milk but by the power of the Spirit of the living God. Through an outpouring of God's love on you, you will pour out what was choked out by circumstances the first time around. With God's help, you will nurse your child or children back to perfect health. You will be restored to your child and your child to you.
It's a fresh start. Take it.
The promises of God begin and end with Yeshua, Jesus, because He is the reconciliation. If you've been walking through life on your own and want to walk with a Shepherd who will never let go of your hand, here's how to start.