Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and when I arrived at church, I received a tulip.
So did both my daughters.
So did every woman who arrived at our church yesterday–whether single or married, biological mother or not.
I am glad of this–because every one of us is called to a mothering of one kind or another. My children have several spiritual mothers, and I’m grateful for every woman who pours into their lives. My children need them. I need them. They receive mothering from all kinds of women–from me, from their grandmother, from their female teachers, from the young women who work in their after-school program, from the coaches who lead their soccer teams…
They are challenged and encouraged and pushed and comforted and guided and stretched and corrected–by all these women in ways that are specific to each one.
They need more than one “mother,” and, most of all, they need the motherly love of God, who, though generally referred to as “Father,” also speaks of himself as “motherly.”
I was very blessed this morning to read Mike Frost’s post “The Ferocious Motherly Love of God,” on this topic, and I am so glad to share it with you. May it encourage you as it encouraged me.
On Mother’s Day, my motherhood is all clean and shiny; I get cards that tell me I’m very much appreciated for all the things I often feel go unnoticed, and my mom-failures don’t get mentioned.
But during the 364 other days in the year, I often feel like my motherhood needs some spit and elbow-grease polishing.
So, with the assumption that almost all other mothers feel the same, I’d like to share with you part of a message I listened to this past week. Dr. Crawford Loritts was speaking on Psalm 23, and his comments on one phrase in verse 6 spoke directly into my mothering.
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”.
“Why ‘follow’?” Loritts asked. “Why not ‘go ahead of’?”
He then shared how he and his wife, Karen, love it when their seven grandkids visit, but with all of them aged 8 and under, it doesn’t take long before the house looks like a disaster zone. Each night, though, after the children have gone to bed, Karen gets out the vacuum and the Magic Eraser sponge. And she cleans up after the kids.
“God does the same for us, following us with His goodness and mercy,” Loritts suggested.
I know this applies to every area of/relationship in our lives, but my mind jumped immediately to relationship with my kids. So many times I’ve prayed, “God, I just blew it with them. Please undo my damage. Heal any wounds. Establish them in You. Restore our relationship.” In situations when I’m not even sure if I’m messing up or not, I pray, “God, I have no idea if how I’m handling this situation is good or bad, wise or foolish. Please work good out of it in their lives.”
Vacuum cleaner and Magic Eraser.
But WAY better.
Goodness and Mercy!
God’s goodness to flood over the wounds I have inflicted and will inflict. God’s goodness to fill in the gaps I’m missing, that I’m blind to.
And God’s mercy, defined as lovingkindness and compassion, as the character quality of God that urges Him to form and pursue and repair relationships with those who not only don’t deserve it but sometimes don’t even want it.
His goodness and mercy have come behind me again and again with my kids. I’ve witnessed it in their supernatural capacity to forgive me. I’ve experienced it when the aftermath of my wrong and subsequent confession is a deeper, truer relationship. I’ve benefitted when they are more willing to admit their faults to me because I have been vulnerable with them.
And it will come behind when I experience heartache with my kids beyond anything we’ve gone through yet.
That’s one to hold onto.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives…