Since becoming a mother, God has been particular about showing me just how much of a choice He gives us. He doesn’t force our hand in anything, but by the Spirit guides us when we are in Christ, and we can choose to follow Him or to live in the flesh.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:16-17
Paul exhorts us here to walk in the Spirit; it’s an action. It’s something we must choose to do, to say, “Okay, I am going to walk in the Spirit”. This implies that walking in the Spirit is not the only option. So what is the alternative? Walking in the flesh.
A few verses later, after detailing the fruits of the Spirit “against which there is no law”, Paul says that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
Yes; but is this a one-time crucifixion to the flesh? Well, Paul says elsewhere, in 1 Corinthians, that he “die(s) daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). He knows that the flesh wants to resurrect, but we must “consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).
So then, we are, as Christians, commanded to be alive in Christ, but in that, there are a number of invitations God gives us. He doesn’t force us to say yes, but He invites us into them for His glory and our good.
I have never more deeply felt these invitations from the Lord than since being a mother.
He has invited me to…
Die to myself and get up in the middle of the night to comfort my son when he needs me;
Die to my to-do list and get down on the floor and play with him;
Die to my worry when he’s sick and put my trust in God;
Die to my schedule; everyone with a baby knows that blowouts, missed naps, messy lunches, and more can change our plans in an instant.
Die to my idea of productivity; motherhood is anything but what the world calls productive, but oh-so “productive” in the Kingdom.
I don’t have to do these things as a Christian. But…if I have the Holy Spirit, I increasingly want to do these things as the Spirit leads me to do them and my hunger for Him increases while my appetite for the world decreases.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11). Oftentimes our sanctification is really the Lord discipling us, correcting us, training us. There are much more comfortable ways, but those ways are not the narrow road. Those ways don’t produce the harvest of righteousness and peace Paul writes about to the Hebrews.
No, I don’t have to be up in the night with my baby. I could choose to let him cry. But I sense God inviting me to lay down my life to go to my sweet babe and comfort him; God left His perfect place in Heaven to come to us.
Honestly, part of why I say yes to this invitation is because it is sooo. sanctifying. I have never more had to practice abiding in Christ so tangibly, in such a desperate moment of need. I’ve literally cried to Johnny in moments of such utter exhaustion saying, “I can’t do it. I’m so tired. I can’t get up to help him.” Johnny often helps me with the night wakings too, and is so patient and enduring in the midst of them. But overall I enter into this cuddling with my baby boy who has no other way of communicating than a cry. Who was created for cuddles and closeness and bonding and who NEEDS those things. I lay down my life; I don’t try to save it. That is the Way for the Christian.
“All things are lawful” Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “but not all things are beneficial.” In other words: because of Christ, our standing with God is no longer held by what we do, but by what He’s already done, so all things are lawful…but if I am in Christ, I’m going to actually be seeking what is beneficial. And God wants those beneficial things for us.
So I have to ask God…according to You, is this behaviour/attitude/thought beneficial?
I sense God inviting me into deeper relationship with Him and deeper understanding and experience of His love for us as we become parents ourselves. If Jesus is truly the centre of our lives…if we truly love Him with all our hearts…we will live and love sacrificially, and I believe that our kids will see that and take note.
I say none of this of what God has been doing in me to puff myself up. On the contrary, I boast in my weakness so HIS strength can be seen, as Paul modelled for us. Truly, truly I am the weakest mother. I am selfish when it comes to night wakings. I am selfish when it comes to wanting alone time. I am selfish, period. But Christ in me is not, and He compels me by His love to mother selflessly, to live selflessly.
My prayer is that, Christian, you would ask God: How are you inviting me into deeper relationship with you? Where am I still living alive to self? What beliefs, attitudes, and/or behaviours am I living out that are in contrary to the Spirit who lives within me?
If you are not a Christian, my prayer is that you would receive the Gospel: That Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, came down to earth, lived among us, and then died the most gruesome death for the forgiveness of sin. He rose from the dead 3 days later, and in repenting of our sin and believing in Him, we submit to Him as our Lord and Saviour and look forward to eternal life with Him: a life that starts here and now.