As I trudged into the kitchen one evening, I saw it. There on the counter sat a lonely, cold cup of coffee. Instantly, I said to myself, “Ugh, I forgot to drink my coffee again. Those kids! What have they done to my brain?” That full cup of coffee had been waiting there since morning, and I totally forgot to drink it as had happened many times before.
After recovering from the dismay and rinsing my coffee down the drain, I realized that cup illustrated a truth to strive for in my life as a mother, a concept that can build up the strong and strengthen even the most downhearted Christian mother. God has given mothers a precious gift, the opportunity of using motherhood not only to build growing lives but also to identify with the life of Christ.
There can be no doubt that motherhood is a great blessing from God.
Much of the time it brings pleasure and immeasurable joy. However, when the days and weeks come where fatigue and discouragement reign is there a cup to drink from which provides more than just a few hours’ boost? I believe that “cup” of fulfillment is Christ’s own, which He partook of on the cross. As mothers we can have the privilege of sharing in Christ’s “cup” of self-sacrificial love. That sacrifice may take different forms throughout life. Some mothers would love to be with their children daily but make a sacrifice in working outside the home in order to provide for them. It may be as simple as missing your morning coffee or as complex as sacrificing a particular career. Whatever the sacrifice, we have the opportunity to grow more like Christ, thus building these qualities into our children as well. That coffee you never drank, or that dessert you never ate could illustrate a profound concept that you were drinking from a much greater “cup”, identification with Jesus.
Mothers, especially those of us with young children, can use this period of our lives as an occasion for growth.
We can follow Christ’s example:
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Some type of process was evidenced even in Christ’s life. It is our decision whether to use the difficult times of mothering to embitter us or to transform ourselves into His likeness. Will we allow the tough experiences to perfect ourselves, or will we just get through them looking for better days? If we strive to use our “sufferings” and self-sacrifice as an opportunity for growth, we can develop humility and character rather than a critical spirit and despondency. Remember that each day we have persevered, responding to our humble role with dignity, is a day in which we have refined our own character.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.” (Philippians 2:14-17)
Laying aside many of our own desires and abilities is also an opportunity to drink from Christ’s cup and conform to His likeness.
A popular thought in churches today is that parishioners need to be using all their gifts to serve God, and if they are not, they need to go somewhere or find some way to use them immediately. Yet, I believe God gives us occasions to utilize our gifts and periods when we need to wait and see where He can use us. Possibly, we need time to grow and mature. There is a time for everything, and that time may not be “all the time.” Our priorities teach us this concept, and our character tells us to do what is right with the circumstances God has given us each day. As mothers, God has given us children; hopefully their care is one of our highest priorities. They will need us to varying degrees during certain periods of their lives. There may be times when mothers feel they can (or must) pursue their own careers. There also may be periods when they are able to stay home with their children or greet them after school each day.
“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but make Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)
It may be possible to enjoy some of our own desires while raising our children; it could also be, however, that giving them up builds our character. Jesus chose sacrifice over selfish ambition and suffering over comfort.
We need to focus upon the goal of being conformed to the likeness of His Son: meditate upon the eternal purpose of God for our lives and our children’s.
Many times in Scripture the concept of perfecting is mentioned; therefore, there must be some significance linked to the state of our spiritual maturity when we go to meet Christ. I believe our life on this earth and the growth we experience here will stay with us for all eternity. Have we used wisely the period of time that we’ve know Him? Motherhood that models Christ is the self-sacrificial giving up of one’s own desires for the sake of another. Every day lived with unselfishness can be a day of conforming to His likeness, for He is the ultimate self-sacrifice.
So when you see that cold cup of coffee think of the greater “cup” you can drink from, and rejoice that maybe you forgot about that coffee because you were giving of yourself to help your children. As mothers, may we look upon our role as a golden opportunity to share in His cup of self-sacrificial love and to peer into the limitless depths of the heart of God.
What a privilege!