March 1st, 2003 Shower Devotional
This past weekend I was involved in throwing a baby shower for one of our friends. One of my assignments as hostess was to give the short devotional near the front end of the festivities. As this was my first time to offer a shower devotional, I spent a great deal of time in preparation and thinking through my topic. All of that time period was during our month-long hiatus from the blog; I was basically spending most of my free time (heh-heh!) on this other activity, in addition to trying to keep up with my Bible Study reading and work for our weekly TNPC Ladies Group (Mommy Ruth, my third person name for my MIL, keeps us quite busy!! It should be noted that she is doing an excellent job in leading the study and I am very thankful for her diligent work here and quite proud of her too!) But I digress….
Anyway, since I put a decent amount of thought and effort into this, I thought it might be fun to post the general text of my 14 minute talk. My goal overall was to be helpful to Moms at various stages of parenting, and I hope perhaps it might be of encouragement to some of you readers. Please keep in mind that this is a very brief and general talk, and that the text you read was my attempt to write down the body of my devotional in order to make notes for me to then prepare for the shower. So, it was not originally written to be read as a paper, and it probably won’t flow that way for you. In an attempt to make it easier to read, I have inserted section headings to guide you through the talk. I’ve also added some recommended books at the bottom to go along with some of the points I make.
As we begin, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to share a few brief thoughts and meditations with you today. I hope these things will be of encouragement both to Paula and to all of us here. Whether we are expecting our first baby, caring for teens, enjoying grandbabies, or even fulfilling our roles as aunts or cousins to little ones, we all have relationships with children which are God-given and which will impact and shape young lives. As I pondered over this devotional, many things came to mind that would be relevant to our lives as we consider the task of Christian mothering. One particularly stands out as relevant at least in my own life, and, I would dare say, it is relevant to any of us who are in the business of raising or preparing to raise, children. We as women are uniquely designed to have a nurturing way about us. This ability helps us as we care for our children, and there are many, many positive outworkings of this mothering tendency. Today, however, I would like to address one of the potentially frail sides of this tender mother’s heart: our great capacity for worry.
Before I go further with this devotional, I must thank and credit Greg Hewlett for his inspiration last Sunday in his sermon topic. His words about security rang home with me and later Sunday afternoon I happened to be reading an article about the government warnings regarding possible terrorist attacks. I made the comment to Jay that I wouldn’t worry so much about the threat of terrorism if I didn’t have young children. And he gently reminded me of Greg’s sermon, and asked me, quite seriously, “Whom do we trust for our security?” And his question made me stop and think. (It also caused me to throw away the other devotional I had worked diligently on for over two weeks to prepare for today!) I would pose the question to each of us in a slightly different way: “To what degree do we trust God for our children’s best?”
We’re here today because we are excited to be anticipating the birth of John and Paula’s first child. I spent some time thinking back to those months when I was waiting for our first baby to be born, and I can so clearly remember the worries and concerns that would creep into my thoughts, and often consume them altogether. Things like: Would I be able to get through labor? (I was terrified about giving birth to a baby!) Could I be a good mother? Would our baby be healthy? How would my relationship with my husband change, and would it still be special? Would our little girl grow up to know and love God? And, would she even be a little girl? Sonograms today are fairly accurate, but surprises still happen, and we had a lovely closet full of pink baby things at the time.
We all know this list of potential concerns and worries can change with time, but that it has the potential to go on and on, as our human capacity for concern is vast when unchecked.
GOD’S PROVISIONS FOR OUR WORRY AND HIS INVOLVEMENT:
Let us consider in the face of our tendency toward worry, that the God we serve is not surprised by our behavior. He knows us and loves us, and He has much to say in His word about worry. He also gives us precious promises regarding our children which should reassure us as we go about the business of raising these little ones for God. He promises faithfulness to us and our families, that He will keep His covenants with us and with our children. I would like for us to take a moment to consider some of His words regarding our children and I hope in doing so, we remind ourselves that we do not raise our little ones in our own strength, but that we have a mighty God who comes alongside us to aid us in this very great task.
Before we as parents are even on the scene, Psalm 139 records God’s intimate knowledge of these smallest creations. The psalmist writes:
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
God Himself creates our precious children and knows everything about them. He intimately knows all about their lives and everything that will happen to them before we ever meet them. Furthermore, He has ordained each of the days of their lives.
WORRY ABOUT NEEDS:
Because God created us, and because He is knows us intimately, He is mindful of our needs. As parents we may wonder how we will go about meeting our children’s needs at different stages of their lives. We as humans are very needy creatures and our children can seem even more so. Babies are helpless when they are born, and must rely on their parents for everything in order to survive. What an appropriate picture of our own helplessness and desperate need for and reliance on God. Let me read portions of Matthew 6 to you:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear 26 Look at the birds of the air– your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Here God addresses our tendency toward worry and gives His response: Don’t do it!! Don’t worry! And why shouldn’t we worry? Well, for one thing, God has told us not to. But in addition, He has promised to meet our needs. When we have concerns about how we will be able to provide all that our children need, we can be sure that our God loves our children much more than we ever can, and He will be faithful to His promise to provide for their well-being too.
WORRY OVER OUR ABILITY TO PARENT IN A GODLY MANNER:
Another area where we are prone to worry is the question of our adequacy as parents. What about our efforts as parents to impart God’s truths to our families? This seems a weighty task. One of my prayers for our children, one which we hear prayed often from the pulpit, is that our children will never know a day when they didn’t know and love their God, and that each of their lives would be characterized by strong faith in Him. We are told to teach our children the ways of the Lord in Deuteronomy 11:18-21:
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
This passage gives us a blueprint for training our children in the faith. It indicates that we pass our faith on to our children as a way of life. That it will be a part of activities, conversations, and interactions with our children throughout the day, all the days of the week, and throughout the year. We also see here that there is great blessing for those who love and fear the Lord and for their children.
WORRY ABOUT OUR CHILDREN’S SALVATION:
As we instruct our children in the ways of the Lord, another temptation we may fight is worry over how they will respond to our teachings as parents. Will they grow up to know and fear the Lord? Here, God gives another means of reassurance: He says He will be faithful to our efforts as God-fearing mothers and fathers. And He promises to be our God and the God of our covenant children. This promise is echoed throughout scripture and we see it over and over again throughout the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, we may rest on God’s promises in this area and focus on training our children as He asks. We trust Him for the outcome and for their salvation. He tells us in Proverbs 22:6:
6 Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
REASSURANCE FOR OUR HEARTS:
After contemplating God’s words on instructing our children, there is the further temptation to worry about how we might ever accomplish all this as He asks. I do not wish for us to be disheartened today, but encouraged. So I want to remind us of this truth: God loves us and our children dearly and He deals compassionately with us, even as we mothers, given our unique ability to nurture, would tenderly deal with our little children. Yet our Heavenly Father’s love for us is far better; in fact it is perfect. Is 40:11 says:
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
This is an illustration of a tender shepherd who comes alongside of each of us where we are and gently helps us as we in turn shepherd these precious babies He entrusts to us. When we are weak, when we are concerned, when we feel as mothers that we have nothing left to give, or are just too tired, we need to cling to our loving shepherd’s words. I Peter 5:7 says:
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
In closing I would like to read Psalm 127 which paints a beautiful picture of the blessings of a home which is built on the foundation of a love for Christ and a faith in Him. It is my hope that we will all remember these promises and be thankful for God’s very real blessings on each of our families. This passage also asks us to remember that we cannot accomplish this task of child-rearing without Divine Help and that instead of giving into worry, we should continually, every day, look to God for all that we need as parents to raise our children. Psalm 127:
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat-
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD ,
children a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.