On Keeping and Being Kept

Our pastor has begun a series on Genesis. Today what struck me was Genesis 2:15. It didn’t strike me because it was the main event of what he was trying to say, nor because it was something new or shocking. When I write the verse you will probably agree.

“Then the Lord God took the man put him into the garden to cultivate and keep it.”

See, nothing shocking or crazy here. And yet there is so much here. So much to say to my tired momma soul.

Hebrew is a funny language, with No vowels and few words, but the few have profound meanings.

The word for “took” literally means to “to take in the hand.” again, nothing too showy on the surface, but for someone who daily takes two little beings by the hand, there is profound truth here. You see, it is a lot of work to constantly have little people to lead and guide and think for; to keep safe in parking lots, to corral to the places need to be at the time they need to be there.

Take soccer practice for instance. Though the field is a mere 5 minutes away, the process of putting small little shinguards and over-sized socks on a squirmy, slightly hungry little boy takes at least 30 minutes. Then there is thinking for the little brother, his snack, his clothes, his toys to keep him content. Then the water bottle you forget, the dog who needs water while you are gone, and the meal that everyone will be starving for after practice. Lots of taking and placing and planning and preparing. That will take its toll on anyone over an extended period of time.

In light of the backdrop of everyday life, Genesis 2:15 seems so much more profound. You see, not only do I take by the hand and place daily, but I myself am taken by the hand and placed daily. He didn’t just make me and leave me. He daily takes me by the hand and places me, walks me to where He would have me. He doesn’t expect and command me to do something for others that He has not first and continually done for me. And that, my friends, is a game-changer for me. That gives me hope and perspective and energy and peace that He will walk me right into the good works and the wisdom and the energy I need to do this self-same thing for others.

Going back to Genesis 2:15. So the lord took Adam by the hand and placed him, then he commanded him, invited him to keep the garden that he was deliberately placed in. The Hebrew word for “keep” has a diverse set of meanings, including, but not limited to the following: to keep; to watch; to preserve; to be a bodyguard; to defend; to diligently keep; to pay close attention to; to protect.

Now if that’s not a list of the job description of a momma, I don’t know what is.

Pay close attention, lest when you steal away to write a quick email (think 5 minutes) your youngest child takes the glue stick meant for “cwaft” time and rubs it all over the dogs hair. Preserve their little lives by somehow getting protein and veggies into mouths that desire only breakfast foods. Defend them from the dangers of angry siblings, permanent markers, and evils lurking at their doorstep. Be a bodyguard while in Cosco, lest on the wild search for candy or cookie samples, they be smashed by an oncoming cart or stampeded by a run on the organic produce area.

Again, simple truths come into profound new light when I realize that in the midst of the nearly 24/7 keeping of little bodies and souls, I am kept.

Psalm 121 has been an anchor for me in motherhood. The main theme: He is your keeper. Unlike any human keeper, He never tires, never grows weary, never falls asleep on the job, never takes a vacation (be it physical or the little mental vacations I am prone to get lost in in the midst of my keeping job). He never grows frustrated or exhausted or feels the need to hide In the closet for a few minutes to regain sanity or composure.

Again, this realization that in the midst of the the task of keeping, I myself am bring perfectly kept changes everything. In light of His treating me daily as His child, taking me gently by the hand and placing me where I need to be, taking the boys and getting them where they need to be feels more peaceful, more meaningful. In view of His constant keeping of me, I feel much more enabled and empowered to keep others.

When I lose sight of these truths, I can get lost in self-pity and feeling like a martyr (sounds dramatic, but I’m just being honest). When I remember these truths, the mundane burdens of motherhood become a high and holy calling, an invitation into the divine work of placing and keeping.

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