Motherhood seems to be made up of a million small things. We hold our tiny babies. We fold their little clothes. We lose their tiny shoes in our mini vans and their teensy weensy socks in our dryers. We celebrate baby steps and small victories. And there are days when we can’t seem to think past the smallest increments of time—five more minutes of sleep, thirty-second showers, two-minute time outs. All of those small things have a tendency to narrow our focus, but in reality the big picture is much, well, bigger.
Bigger Than We Think
There’s nothing bigger than the Gospel. The message that Jesus Christ left heaven, came to earth and died on the cross to rescue us from our sin and to make a way for us to live with Him for eternity is huge. It’s significant. It’s complex. It’s weighty. Do you see my point? The good news of the Gospel is very, very big.
Does the big message of the Gospel have anything to teach us about the seemingly small tasks of mothering? Can we learn anything from the big story of Jesus and apply it to the little stories we are living out with our children?
A Lesson in Family History
The New Testament opens with these words, “The book of genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).
From there, the Gospel story unfolds with a long list of birth announcements. For seventeen verses the writer traces Jesus’ family through forty-two generations. The list includes mothers like Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Other mothers’ names are left off the list, but their role in the bigger story is not lost. The greatest story ever told begins with a history of parents and families. This is how the stage is set for the arrival of the Messiah.
The genealogies listed in the first verses of Matthew wrap up this way, “And Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (vs. 16-17).
And suddenly we see her. She’s the new mom at the table. At this point Mary probably had more questions than answers about diapers, discipline, and sleeping through the night. She may not be a seasoned veteran yet, but her mothering journey has much to teach each of us as we parent. Her son is our hope. Her womb once held the secret to our freedom and her story helps us grasp just how sacred motherhood really is.
It’s impossible for us to look at the issue of motherhood through the lens of God’s Word and not talk about Mary. If any woman in history has ever been defined by her role as a mother, it’s her. It is because she’s a mom that we even know her name. It’s not that Mary herself is sacred, but the circumstances of her family help us see why mothering is such a big deal.
Before she got pregnant, Mary was just a simple Hebrew girl who wasn’t on anyone’s radar screen. Well, that’s not exactly true. God’s eyes certainly saw her. Gabriel spoke boldly of God’s favor on Mary. In fact, He chose her for a monumental mission. What job title did God give her? Not pastor. Not missionary. Not revolutionary. Nope. God’s assignment for His favored one was to be a mom.
Jesus’ choice to come to us through a mother’s womb is a huge reminder that motherhood matters. Jesus took on flesh, but He could have come as a fully grown man. Instead He shared the very human experience of being born and cared for by a mother.
Extraordinary in the Ordinary
It’s true; Jesus had spectacular birth. His birth announcements came in the form of a choir of glowing angels (Luke 2:8-21) and a moving star that lured wise men to travel from faraway lands (Matthew 2:1-12). But Mary’s role in those historic events was pretty ordinary.
Since it is the ordinary nature of motherhood that often causes us to question its significance, it is worth considering whether the ordinary or the extraordinary had a greater impact on Jesus’ story. The shepherds saw Jesus once and then went back to herding sheep. The wise men left their presents at the baby shower and then returned to their own land. But Mary . . . Mary is woven into every crevice of Jesus’ story. From His conception until His death and resurrection, Jesus’ mother is a constant player in God’s plan to redeem us through the life and death of His son.
The list of lessons that Mary can teach us is long. Her story reminds me that God’s favor is shown to me by His choice to allow me to become a mom.
- The “little” things I am doing every single day with my children are more important than the noneternal but seemingly big things others are doing,
- Jesus values mothers.
- Extraordinary doesn’t always translate to a greater impact than the ordinary. I am influencing my children in big ways by consistently taking care of the small stuff.
And God has His eye on you to carry out His extraordinary purposes through your seemingly ordinary life as a mom. You may sometimes feel like you’re living life on a small scale, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you, like Mary, are uniquely positioned and called to be a constant player in both your child’s life and God’s Kingdom.
Erin Davis is a popular speaker, author and blogger. Her latest release, Beyond Bath Time: Re-imagining Motherhood as a Sacred Role (Moody Publishers, April 2012), seeks to help mothers embrace the high and holy calling of motherhood. This article is excerpted from chapter six of Beyond Bath Time with permission from Moody Publishers.