But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother (Galatians 4:26).
Before I became a mother I did not think it a very difficult job. I knew it wasn't easy, but I also didn't think it arduous. I grossly underestimated motherhood.
Sometimes being a mother is jolly hard. I don't recall my own mother struggling as I seem to. Perhaps I was oblivious to it. At times it is overwhelming. I am quite capable when it comes to looking after myself, and am happy to deal with the consequences. But the weight and responsibility of caring for little ones is more than I expected. Joyous. And gut-wrenching.
Recently I have been challenged. The Spirit of God has called me to be a mother of grace. He does not want me to see motherhood as hard. I am to see it as easy. I am to be a mother out of rest, not burden. Where my parenting begins in grace, because that is, after all, where it belongs.
Abraham's wife, Sarah, was a mother of grace. She did not get everything right. She made mistakes. She even answered God back from time to time. But she was not a mother of law, she was mother of freedom and grace.
The past few weeks of my life have been testing, especially related to family and my ability as a mother. I have made mistakes, and may have even given the Creator of the Universe some cheek. When first invited to be a mother of grace, I thought it was about showing more grace to my children. I now see that it is more about showing grace to myself. That when I exercise grace in the hard times, the burden becomes light, and the road ahead, free.
The Blame Game
When things go wrong, we look for someone, something to blame. Quick to point the finger, quick to judge. That, my friend, is the opposite of grace.
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him" (John 9:1-3).
Parents just want to do what is best for their children. I often find myself second guessing, longing for the gift of hindsight before making decisions. You feel as though everyone scrutinises your parenting ability, from relatives and friends, to complete strangers. Jesus did not enter into discussion as to whether this child's parents were at fault. Neither should you.
Things happen. In this world you will have trouble. Stop looking for someone to blame, or taking blame upon yourself. Instead, allow the power of God to manifest in your situation. I don't know why things go wrong, but I know God longs to show himself strong. When you find yourself feeling condemned or disappointed, pray that God's power will manifest.
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him (2 Chronicles 16:9).
Content in Everything
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little (Philippians 4:11-12).
If anyone knew how to be joyful in all things it was Paul. Shipwrecks, assassination attempts, prison, beatings, along with the excitement of raising people from the dead and planting great churches, Paul rejoiced always in the Lord.
Life holds highs and lows, smooth sailing and raging storms. The secret is contentment through it all. Not so easy for women. We are naturally emotive. I don't know about you, but when things fall to pieces, I fall to pieces. When life is good, my countenance lifts. Retail therapy pick-me-up anyone?
God does not want my life to consist of peaks and troughs. A mother of grace is content in all situations.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
It may not always look like God is present, let alone very present, but he is. He is our refuge and strength. He will bring us through. Accepting that God has everything under control, and will work everything together for good, produces contentment. He is faithful. He will deliver.
Forgive and Forget the Past
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead (Philippians 3:12-13).
I'm still walking out this revelation, I have not got it all together. I am learning how to be a mother of grace more each day. But one thing I must do is let go of the past, and set my eyes on the future. Forgiveness is a choice. Contentment is a choice. Getting up when I am beaten down is a choice. Moving forward with my family is a choice. Putting hope in God when my soul is downcast, is a choice.
Being a mother of grace means celebrating victories, and moving past failures. A resolve to let nothing hold me back. Press on, moving toward my calling.
And that calling is to be a mother of grace.
Sarah Coleman is an Australian author and communicator. Her books include Single Christian Female and Make Yourself Amazing. She is passionate about the Kingdom of God. She also loves being a wife and mother to two boys. To read more of Sarah's thoughts go to sarahcoleman.com.au.
Publication date: May 2, 2014