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The Call of Motherhood

I grew up in a missionary family. We travelled every summer to a different country to minister and work with the people. I saw poverty, hunger, street people, diseased people, children who had been abused, slaves, and filth unimaginable. I saw hospitality that would outmatch anything here in the states. I saw love and joy and contentment that we can only dream of. And I saw great need – need that cannot be met by human hands, but only through the power and grace of God working through human hands. Out of all of those things I saw, I came away with the sense that I had a destiny. A world changing, people saving, powerful destiny. God had called me to change lives. God had called me to make a difference in the world forever. God had a plan for me – I would be instrumental in helping His kingdom come to earth, in bringing people of all nations, tongues, and groups to His throne. My destiny was big.

My ideas changed as I got older, no longer thinking that I would go out into the world. I began to have a heart for academia, feeling that I could write to make a difference, and thinking my destiny of impact would be in the realm of university. I could make Biblical principles known through my work as a professor. God still had a huge calling on my life, and I would still change the world forever.

Then I graduated. God repeatedly said No to every attempt at grad school. He closed the doors on all of my attempts to follow that “call.” And instead He called me to sit at His feet for two years. I had no idea why, but we struggled and fought over it. How could I change the world by sitting on my couch and crying over my Bible?

I had no idea that He was, in fact, preparing me for motherhood. For all of the grand visions I’d had, thinking He’d called me to speak at big stadiums full of people, writing compelling journal articles and defending Him in hostile academia, and reaching the lowest of the low in other countries, He had other ideas. I’d missed the point growing up, thinking that to be valuable to the kingdom, I had to change the world. I missed the point that every big call God gives us begins with a call to service and humility. Instead of calling me to speak to hundreds of people, He called me to invest my words into just a few. Instead of calling me to serve the poor overseas, making a difference by feeding and cleaning them, He called me to feed and clean just a few, joyfully, day in and day out. Instead of calling me to compel hearts to turn to Him in the midst of controversial university culture, He called me to turn my heart toward my children and help turn their hearts toward Him in a controversial world culture. And most of all, instead of focusing on Him calling me to change the world, He’s called me to focus on Him calling my children, to change their hearts.

It’s hard to come to grips with the idea that being a mom is what my life’s purpose is. I never felt like it was enough. Any woman can be a mom, and millions of women before me have done it. It seemed like nothing special, and I wanted to be special. I wanted to fill a role that no other woman could fill. I wanted to leave a mark, rising to the occasion and making a difference. I wanted to be key in history and to be the vessel that God used to pour out His revival on our land. Oh, how I wanted!

But then I actually became a mom. During those two years, He had stripped me of everything performance based that I could point to for glory. He had brought me to a place of repetition and taught me obedience in the mundane. He began to remove my self-glorifying vision of my calling and show me that His pleasure in me had nothing to do with how many people I could reach, but rather my relationship with Him and my obedience because I love Him. He began to teach me to be faithful in the little things because those things are just as important. When I had my son, my life narrowed, and He began to show me the call to care for this tiny little human was just as important as any other call I could have imagined. Not because my son is more important than any other person in the world. But because my son is an individual to Jesus Christ. He died for my son’s sins, too. He loves my son just as much as He loves all the street kids in South America. To look at motherhood with frustration because I want to be doing something “more important” in another country for kids more in need is devaluing the need of my own child’s little soul. Not to say that a mom can’t also reach out to other kids, but in my heart, I had to deal with the issue of feeling like being called to my own children wasn’t enough. I had to deal with feeling like I wasn’t valuable to God because the only people I was really reaching were within the walls of my own home. I had to struggle through feeling like I had so much potential to reach so many more, but God was asking me to stay home. It just didn’t feel good enough because that’s what so many other women do too. What sets me apart and makes my calling special, if it’s the same thing that hundreds and thousands of other women also do?

God really pinpointed it for me through this: He chose me for these little ones. There are so many children who are abused and neglected in the world. There are so many people who walk around carrying baggage and need healing and love. But God chose me for these little ones so that they don’t have to grow up that way. He chose me to invest in them so they can grow up whole, loving Him and serving Him and following whatever He has called them to. Yes, God’s heart is for the broken, and yes, we need to reach out to them with love and offer God’s healing. And no, I can’t shield my kids from every hurt and problem. There is sin and they will be scarred by sin because that’s the reality of living in a fallen world. But when God planned to create my kids, He chose me to create a home where He would be the center and make an environment where they could learn to love Him and hear His voice. Where they could know the power of His forgiveness and know where to turn when they struggle with sin.

Every person on Earth is special to God. He has just asked me to make mine a little more special to me.

This is the call of motherhood. To take the littles that God has given me and pour my life into them, to raise them in the fear and love of God Almighty, to contribute wholeness to our crumbling world, and to send them out as burning flames into the darkness. My call, at least for now, has been narrowed to these few, but where else can revival start, if it doesn’t start with just a few?

I’m not saying that a mom who is pursuing another calling God has given her is a bad mom, nor am I saying that if God calls a woman to motherhood that that is the only call she can have. Absolutely not! What I am saying is that the call to motherhood is a worthy call. It is enough. It is important to God. And really, that’s all that truly matters.

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