I wonder how many stay-at-home mums out there feel they are missing out on 'the race'? I know I sometimes do. Often I feel like the Kingdom is coming, but its not coming near me! Since my second child was born 10 months ago, my life has revolved around my two small children who take up my every waking minute; one of them demands my attention all day, and the other demands it all night! I know that being a mother of small children is often a barren time spiritually, but recently I realised it is also a time when I don't feel I'm making a valid contribution to the Kingdom either.
God recently spoke to my feelings of being on the sidelines when I was reading the latest Heidi Baker book, Compelled by Love. In the chapter I was reading, Heidi was talking about being spiritually poor and she quoted from 2 Corinthians 6 (from the New American Standard Bible):
...giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
As I read the passage, some of the words jumped out at me in a new way. Instead of thinking this passage is for those people 'out there' doing hard-core mission, for the first time as a mum I felt like I was included in what Paul is talking about.
Though I am not on the frontline of ministry as Paul was, I too, go through 'much endurance' as I look after my two children at home day-in and day-out, and I too, feel 'imprisoned' when I am not free to leave the house as and when I want to because I can't leave the children, and I too, know 'labours' every day as I walk up and down the stairs a hundred times a day meeting the constant demands of little children, and I too, know 'sleeplessness' with my youngest who doesn't eat well in the day so makes up for it in the night with night feeds..., and the list goes on.
God was telling me that He sees my efforts at home as valid in the Kingdom. God made this passage speak directly to my life. He saw my hidden thoughts and spoke to encourage me. As mums stuck at home, our job of raising our children is important to God. As well as telling me that my sacrifices as a mother were noticed by God and were a valid part of the work of the Kingdom, I felt there was a second part to the message - just as Paul needed the power of God to carry out his work, so the power of God is available to us to empower us to carry out our work too.
Yes, I can relate to 'much endurance, distresses, labours, sleeplessness, hunger,' etc, but it's good to know that because the first part of the passage resonates with me, therefore the rest of the passage is for me too; in faith, I can carry out my mission to raise my children 'in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,'.
How wonderful it is to know that I too, just like Paul, can call on the power of God to fulfill the demands of my day with the children! When I am at my wits end, exhausted and frustrated, with feelings of failure, instead of admitting defeat and giving in to my impatience or anger, I now know I have as much right as Paul to call on divine help to persevere.
If you can relate to what I'm talking about, then may God speak to you as He did to me - 'My Beloved, you are not forgotten'.