Call to Hear
Good morning everybody and Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers, soon-to-be mothers, and grandmothers joining us this morning. We are delighted to be able to celebrate, to rejoice, with so many of you who have been and soon will be mothers. While today is day of joy for many of you, it is also a day of sadness for others. Our hearts go out to those of you whose mothers are no longer on this earth; the women who have had a tough time with fertility. As well as those moms who have lost children whether in the womb or in the world. Having gone through two miscarriages with my wife Alicia I have seen the weight that a mother carries when this happens. And so, to all of the moms I just want you to know that our God sees you! He hasn’t forgotten you! And most importantly – He loves you!
Please take a moment to pray before continuing.
When Mike came into my office to say that he wanted me to preach on Mother’s Day, I did what any sensible man in my position should do, 1) I prayed because this is one of those time where the old adage “if momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy” really applies. 2) I asked my wife for help. Therefore, if I say anything that makes the slightest bit of sense you can thank the Holy Spirit and my wife.
So let’s get into it. I want to start by sharing a piece of a story from Meredith Ethington’s blog, The Identity Crisis of Motherhood. She says,
I’m guessing that every mother goes through the identity crisis of motherhood. We have this idealistic view of motherhood before we actually become mothers, and then, when reality hits, we question whether or not we truly are who we thought we were. But I thought I was so patient. But I thought I was a good multi-tasker. But I thought I was a good cook. Motherhood swallows some of us whole and spits us out like newborn puppies. We stumble over our feet and fall flat on our faces just trying to walk a few steps.
I imagine that at some point most moms have felt that way. That’s why we will take a look into God’s Word and discover His truth for moms. Now, I will be speaking directly to mothers this morning, but my hope is that the rest of us will stay tuned in long enough so that we can hear what the Spirit of God is speaking to our hearts today.
Point #1: Don’t build towers
If you have your Bibles, please go with me to Genesis 11:1-4. Thank God for His Word. His Word is Truth and by the Truth of God, the people of God are sanctified.
There are two things that I want to encourage you with this morning moms. The first thing is this, no matter how you may feel about yourself as a mother (good or bad), DO NOT BUILD A TOWER AT THAT PLACE.
In the story of The Tower of Babel we find a group of people with an identity crisis. While their actions do highlight a blatant rebellion against God I also see in their architectural planning a need to know themselves and a need to be known by others. What I find is that the construction of the tower seems to be directly linked to the people’s identity. Come they said, and “let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves…”’ (Gen. 11:4a). One major issue that the people faced was knowing the truth about their identity. The truth about what defined them. Something to keep in mind here, identity is always dependent, it does not exist on its own.
In an article from CRU.org, Melissa Crutchfield quotes a psychologist by the name of David Benner who says that identity can be defined as “‘who we experience ourselves to be – the I each of us carries within.’” Michelle goes on to say that “Often, we feel the pressure to define ourselves through our jobs, financial status, successes, grades, appearance, what other people say about us and many other means”. The issue of identity is common to all people and tends to run deep within the realm of motherhood. So much pressure has been placed on women to become moms and on moms to be perfect mothers, that it becomes difficult to have an identity apart from how they are raising or have raised their children.
A woman by the name of Lisa Zamosky shares a personal story of her own identity crisis with motherhood,
I had just solidified my place in what seemed like a great mommy group filled with smart, professional women who regularly met at a neighborhood toddler play class.
As I positioned my son’s stroller along the back wall and leaned over him to unfasten his seat belt, one of the new moms in the group stood over us watching. Suddenly, she let out a horrified, “Please tell me that’s not Cheetos dust on your son’s hands!”
I felt a red hot flush come over my face. His little toddler paws were covered in the telltale bright orange powder; there was no denying what he’d been eating. I quickly fumbled for a wipe to clear away the mess, not to mention my maternal shame, and slinked quietly into the class, hoping I wouldn’t be cast out of the group as the failed mother who (gasp!) allowed her child to eat junk food.
And that’s just one story of a mother under pressure to parent “perfectly”! There are many others.
Furthermore, when we bring in the issue of infertility and the sobering fact that some women will never have children, the crisis of identity increases. Some women spend their entire lives and tons of money trying to become mothers. According to Womenshealth.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “About 6.1 million women in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant….” So then, image the heartache that these women would feel if they have been lead to believe that their identity is somehow linked to the towers of pregnancy and motherhood. In many cases, this drive or need to define ourselves by what we do or what we accomplish is often motivated by fear.
As a matter-of-fact, it seems to me that fear was the motivating factor behind the plans to construct the tower of Babel! “…let us make a name for ourselves OTHERWISE we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4b). Fear of being spread across the globe, fear of losing connection with each other, fear that they would lose their individual and communal identity lead to the construction of the tower. Something that I have learned in my short time on this earth is that FEAR is a quality of a self-reliant people. But FAITH is the characteristic of a people who know their God. FEAR is the result of trusting in ourselves. FAITH is the result of trusting in God. That’s why God tells us in Isaiah 41:10,
Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Therefore, I believe that if we are operating from an understanding of God’s truth then we will not build towers to our good parenting or the things that we have accomplished in this world, instead we will build monuments of faith to a God who has redeemed us and called us by name!
This brings us to our second point.
Point #2: Build Faith
The second thing that I want to leave you with this morning is this, instead of building towers, BUILD FAITH by remembering where your real identity comes from.
Let’s go to Matthew’s Gospel. I want to show you something that is rarely mentioned when we read about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. READ MATTHEW 3:16-17. In Matthew 3:17, immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the moment that He comes out of the water there is a voice from heaven and the Father tells us who Jesus is. He reveals His identity. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” In Matthew’s account the words are spoken as though the Father was removing doubt for those who were witnessing Jesus’ baptism almost to say, ”If there is any question about who He is, This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.”
Now, I’m rather partial to Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism because Luke makes it more personal. In Luke’s account, the Father doesn’t speak these words to anyone except Jesus. Read Luke 3:21-22. Look at verse 22 again, the Father say to Jesus, “YOU are my beloved Son, in YOU I am well-pleased.” In Matthew’s account the Father’s words are communal. In Luke’s account the Father’s words are personal.
Just this past week, Mike asked a question on FB about what we think God thinks about us. Now, the catch with these kinds of questions is that our answers can really reveal our understanding of who we think God is. A.W. Tozer once said that “no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God”. Some people replied to Mike by saying that God thinks, “You can do better.” In my opinion, this is a very damaging view of God. The reality, my friends, is that you CANNOT do better. If you could there would have been no reason for Jesus to die in your place!! Moms, you’re going to mess up and that’s alright. But if you build your tower on whether or not you’re a good mother you will be hunted by your constant failings. However, if you build your faith on the assurance of what God has spoken you will endure until the end!
Read Matthew 4:1-11, just a few sentences after Jesus hears those beautiful words from the Father, Satan comes on the scene and the first thing he does is attack Jesus’ identity. “If you are the Son of God/If you are who the Father says You are…turn stones into bread. If you are who the Father says You are…throw yourself down from the tower…bow down and worship me” (Matt. 4:1-11). You see Satan was trying to get Jesus to build a tower on a foundation made of sand, but what He failed to realize is that Jesus is the Rock!
- He is the Chief cornerstone rejected by those who build towers to themselves (Luke 20:17).
- He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to those who refuse to surrender their wills (1 Peter 2:8).
- He is the rock which became a resting place for Jacob in the wilderness (Genesis 28:11).
- And He is the Foundation upon which our entire lives are built (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Moms, let me be honest with you, the same thing the devil tried with Jesus he will try on you. It’ll sound something like this, If you were a good mom your child would have better grades in school. If you were a good mom, you wouldn’t let your child spend all of that time on the iPad or watching TV. If you really were a good mother, you wouldn’t let your child misbehave in public.
Or, it’ll sound like this, you’re a really good mom because your children graduated from college and are now successful in business. You’re a good mom because none of your children are on drugs.Your kids married the right person and have no children out of wedlock.
Both the shame that comes from your kids NOT turning out how you hoped they would and the pride you feel because they did are equally unstable foundations upon which to build your maternal identity. Do not build a tower at that place, instead BUILD YOUR FAITH on the assurance that your identity comes from the Lord!
Don’t get caught up in the elusive pursuit of “being a good mother” because as every parent soon discovers, when you feel like you got things figured out there’s another loose end to tie up. Don’t chase perfection; be persistent. As a mother, and really as the people of God, we have been called to a life of faith-ful-ness; not fault-less-ness.
Every story in the Bible chronicles the faith of those who encountered God. The characters of the Bible are either remembered for having faith or for not having faith.
Look at the story of ENOCH. READ Genesis 5:21-24. In this passage we discover a man by the name of Enoch who lived 365 years. He is the father of Methuselah, the oldest person known to live. After Methuselah was born it is recorded that for the next 300 years of his 365 years on earth Enoch walked with God and that he enjoyed such a special relationship with the Lord that one day God said, “Come stay with me” and poof! “[Enoch] was not because God took him.” One commentator toys with the idea that it may have been parenthood that inspired Enoch to take his relationship with God so seriously. That’s a very interesting thought. The story concludes in Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Again, as the people of God, and as mothers – stewards of the little lives entrusted to you – we have been called to a life of faithfulness; not faultlessness! Be remembered for how your life was pleasing to God. BUILD FAITH; not towers.
Call to Respond
Let me close with another confession from Meredith Ethington. She says,
“It would be so easy to have an identity crisis because people are living more well-traveled lives than I am. People are out past 8 p.m. and drinking wine and talking about the current crisis in Syria and what they would do to fix it. People are joining the Peace Corps and doing very important big things that don’t involve fixing the 2-year-old five different meals. People are getting degrees and awards, and making TV appearances. And I could feel very, very small. I could feel invisible. I could easily tell myself I don’t have anything left to contribute except maybe to the laundry, the mopping, and the butt-wiping society right here at my house.
But, you know what? I refuse to accept that.”
Meredith decided that she would not build towers to motherhood, and neither should you moms. For those of us who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb we must build our faith upon the Truth of God’s Word and the assurance of our salvation in Christ.
Proverbs 18:10 reminds us that “the Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe!!” We don’t have to build our own towers because one has already been built for us! It is Jesus Christ Himself. Moms, in the Name of Jesus, you can find safety from the judgmental stares of other moms. In the Name of Jesus, you can find safety from the pressures of society that try to dictate to you what a good mom is suppose to be! In the Name of Jesus, you can find safety from your own false narratives about what a good mom is. When the devil tries to get you to question or forsake what the Father has already confessed about your identity, Build up your faith by running into the Strong Tower of Jesus. Clothe yourself with the mind of Christ. Put on the Lord’s armor. Take up your shield of faith and take comfort in the fact that your life is hidden with Christ in God. Don’t build towers; build faith!