Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I have found myself repeating these verses in my mind when the going gets rough and my sweet pea toddler pushes that spoonful of yummy, time-put-into-preparing food out of her mouth and simply says “no thank you” and “I wanna play!” or when my fingers get slammed into the laundry room door as she slides it happily trying to hide.
I find myself contemplating a state of the heart which I considered often in my college days as I was immersed in international gatherings among unbelievers and traveling overseas to share the gospel:
Privilege vs Sacrifice
I could never consider anything I did as a sacrifice necessarily because if God called me to that, a lowly sinner saved by grace, then where is the sacrifice? It’s all gain! And not to mention that it is God at work in us to bring about his good plan rather than anything we can muster up on our own. I found myself always more blessed by others than I was intending to be a blessing to them. I see a similar working in mothering.
I have intentions with my children to empty myself so they can see Christ in all his glory. I want Norah to be well-mannered and able to listen at a young age so that she can have an attentive ear for the gospel. I want to nurture Owen as an infant so that he can feel loved by God later on. Norah’s chanting of the ABC’s stirs in me the hopes of her learning to read in the coming years so that she can see God in the bible for herself and be amazed. However, unlike my summer adventures in China and India (though I did work with small children), it can be a bit easier to fall under the sacrifice category and bemoan my current calling- what a shame to stay in that!
There’s also a self-righteous undertone in boasting in the sacrifice rather than the privilege. It puts us in an upper-hand position rather than the reality. Yes we are called to work heartily in serving the needy, but aren’t we all helpless widows?
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Luke 18:1-8 tells of the persistent widow that went to the judge for relief. At this time, a widow with no familial aid was left for dead basically. She wore out the judge in her pleadings. He granted her the relief she sought and he wasn’t even a righteous, God-fearing judge! How much more has God provided relief for his children, sinners in a desperate state, in Christ his Son! Knowing then our state, depraved and unable to fix it (Isaiah 59), once we are changed by grace through faith, what God calls us to in service to him ultimately is not a sacrifice, but a privilege for we have been rescued from the famine. We have been given the bread of life and living water to fill us for eternity. What gluttons we would be to not share it!
There is no sacrifice to serve my children, all privilege. I am not setting aside my desires to have this occupation or that friendship. I am gaining God in my calling. It’s a privilege to know that God sees fit to use child-bearing and rearing to draw me closer to himself. Sitting in college classes such as The Gospel of John or Understanding Islam, I would have never thought God was using such courses to prepare me for where I am now, but he is. The gospel is all I have to lean on throughout the day. God is often my only “real” conversation when my husband may be gone all day for work and then church affairs. And often times, my children and their needs/behaviors are as foreign as all get out, so working internationally and studying other cultures are utilized in my day-to-day.
It all goes back to a renewing of the mind. Day-in and day-out, hour by hour. I am constantly in need of a mind-renewal because there is an emptying needed to take place. Just as Christ emptied himself to the point of death in submission to the Father, so I pray for grace to empty myself into the lives of my children for the glory of God. What a privilege indeed!
I tell many newlywed friends (well, more newlywed than Josh and I that is!) that God gives us marriage and parenting to show us our need for a Savior because these relationships will reveal sin more than any other. John Owen states that we are to kill sin before it kills us. That sounds pretty brutal…well, not so much now when I see how my sin could eat me up as a wife and mother. I must actively work to put it death and repent often, pleading for the mind of Christ “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” and there I am consoled, knowing how I it is worth it all to serve the One who came in the flesh to remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26.)
Joel 2:13a states, “rend your heart and not your garments” in regards to the posture of the heart in repentance. An inner realization and change rather than an external modification. I find myself in need of repentance more and more these days, and it actually brings me joy rather than discouragement knowing that God is at work in me to sanctify me and conform me into his likeness.
So when I am bent under the kitchen table scraping mushed peas off the ground, I say Philippians 2:5-11 over and over again. When I sit on the couch feeding my newborn while listening to my toddler scream not wanting to go to bed, I say Philippians 2:5-11 over and over again. When I am in the darkened kitchen starting my morning cup of coffee with intentions to dive deep into the bible and then a baby awakens, I say Philippians 2:5-11 over and over again. What has been provided for us through Christ is real and available. It is the only outlet from death. It’s the only answer for truly living. And His Name will sound throughout the heavens and be recognized by all:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It’s a privilege to train up my little ones to know His Name. It’s quite messy, but oh how messy are we in our sin and despair, yet God is so loving to draw us to himself and shed the light of Jesus Christ in our hearts for all eternity!
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.