The Gift of Grace

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Bagels, a handmade bracelet (made of fluorescent noodles and strung by sweet little fingers), a bouquet of flowers, a break and a date with my husband. All amazingly thoughtful gifts given to me in honor of Mothers Day. All loved and appreciated. But there is one gift I need more than all these, and no one in my family can give it to me. I have to receive it myself from a Father always leaking and spilling it all around because of its fullness in Him. I need grace. Grace to remember that I will fail them and when I do, they find the Perfect Parent.

I have been studying the opening chapters of Matthew of late (strange to be studying the magi in may, but that’s where He has me). I have been challenged by John then Baptist’s posture in ministry (and what is motherhood but live-in ministry?). He was kind of a big deal in the peoples’ eyes, and rightfully so. He knew he had a significant role to play in announcing God’s kingdom, and he took his role seriously, giving it all he had. And yet, he was humble, always keeping in sight the fact that he was intended to be merely a pointer, a step along the way, preparing hearts for the mightier One whose coming he was heralding. When that time came, he was more than eager to hand off those who had formerly been under his teaching, the recipients and participants in his ministry. Two of Christ’s disciples had formerly been disciples of John. They left John on the spot as soon as John introduced them to Christ, saying, “behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

On Mother’s Day (and year-round, if I am honest), it is easy for me to fall into thinking that what my boys need is me to be an awesome mother, a near-perfect one. One who effortlessly balances time with the lord, time with my hubby, time with each of my very different children, all the while keeping them challenged and engaged with homeschool, providing healthy meals, staying in shape, and keeping up our home. At least that is the pressure I put on myself on a nearly daily basis, whether I realize it or not. But that isn’t the point. And oh, how I need to remember that.

The one thing I need to do like its my job, the most significant thing I can do for my boys is to be a pointer to Christ. He is the One who I eagerly anticipate will step onto the scenes of their lives and steal the spotlight, the One whose ministry and presence I hope my children will leave my ministry of motherhood for, the One who all my efforts is prayerfully laying the groundwork for.

I know I have a significant role to play, but it is so freeing for me to know that I cannot and should not be the end-all, be-all.

I will fail them in small ways and in huge glaring ways. I know I already have. And thought right now I there view of me is rosy and charitable, they will one day see me through more realistic eyes. But that is a victory, because when I fail them, when I am right-sized in their eyes, they will see the glory of the One who is mightier than I, the One whose sandals I am unworthy to untie.

George Macdonald captures this in a poem, The Children’s Heaven, a poem I think about often as I rock little Phin man and he stares at me.

The infant lies in blessed ease upon his mother’s breast;
No storm, no dark, the baby sees invade his heaven of rest.
He knows nothing of change or death–her holy face the skies.
The air he breathes his mother’s breath, his stars, his mother’s eyes. …

Her smile would win no smile again, if the baby saw the things
That ache across his mother’s brain the while she sweetly sings.

Thy faith in us is faith in vain– we are not what we seem.
O dreary day, O cruel pain! That wakes thee from thy dream.
No, pity not his dream so fair, nor fear the waking grief;
Oh safer he than though we were good as his vague belief.

There is a heaven, that heaven above whereupon he gazes now;
A truer love than in thy kiss; a better friend than thou.
The Father’s arms fold like a next His children round about;
His face looks down, a heaven of rest, where comes no dark, no doubt.

It’s mists are clouds of stars that move in sweet concurrent strife;
It’s winds, the goings of His love; it’s dew, the dew of life.

We for our children seek thy heart, for them the father’s eyes;
Lord, when there hopes in us depart, let hopes in thee arise.
When childhood’s visions them forsake, to women grown and men,
Thou to thy heart their hearts will take, and bid them dream again.

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