Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mothering By Faith

Jochabed used her forearm to push the hair off her forehead.  Her heart pounded and a sick feeling settled deep into her stomach.  Her nimble fingers moved fast and silent, though her palms were slick with sweat.  Every little sound outside made her stop and listen.

It wasn't the first time she'd weaved a basket like this one--she knew what she was doing.  But this one was different; this one held precious cargo.  And if you'd have told her as a young girl being taught this skill by her own mother that one day she'd be using it as a desperate grab at saving her own child, she'd have said you were crazy.  Yet here she was.

She glanced nervously over at her sleeping baby boy.  She felt that lump begin to rise again, and even though she thought there were no tears left, a few more escaped and ran down her cheek as she tried to focus on her work and not the inevitable.

This was it.  This was the boy's only hope.  Her only hope.

And though the doubts seeped in like a foul smell on a hot day, she reminded herself that it was either this...or that.

And that would be the end of her.  That was just not an option.  Not for her and her son.  But she'd watched it happen over and over again in her village; baby boys being ripped from their mother's arms.  She'd heard the cries of the babies.  And the screams of the mothers.  She'd hugged the mothers close as they sobbed and sobbed.  There was a good chance she'd never be able to forget those sounds, though she wished she could.  She knew it would be her soon if she didn't act fast.

For three months she and her husband had been able to pull off hiding their son.  But they sensed that their time was running out before the king's soldiers would be at their doorstep;  it was getting harder and harder to hide the sounds of the infant, who was getting more vocal everyday. 

The basket was done.  It was waterproof, and hopefully the tar and pitch would hold.  She'd done her best to make it comfortable for her baby boy.  Cozy.  She felt it was the least she could do.

As she lowered him into it and kissed his chubby little cheeks and his perfect little lips what she dreaded would be one last time, she caught the gaze of a curious little pair of eyes from across the room.  Her daughter was awake.

Stay strong, Jochabed.  She can sense your fear, she thought to herself, though a moment earlier she was sure she might collapse from the weakness in her knees.

The young girl--Miriam--rose from her bed and made her way over to where her mother stood.

"What's gonna happen, Mommy?" Miriam asked quietly.

"I don't know, sweetie.  I don't know," she whispered, cupping the girl's cheeks in her hands, wishing with all her heart that she had a better answer.  Wishing she knew what was going to happen.  Wishing that it didn't have to be like this.  "Come.  It's time now," she breathed, picking up the basket containing her one and only son, and headed toward the door.  He slept through it all.  Thank God for small blessings. 

She stopped in the doorway and turned back to Miriam. "You coming?"

The girl raced after her mother and followed her into the dark of the night.

It was both the shortest and the longest walk Jochabed had ever taken to the river.  And as she stood on the bank and looked out over the vast expanse of water, she fought back hard against feelings of panic.  Of hesitation.  Her mind spun wild notions of escape.  They could leave it all behind.  Flee into the desert and live out the rest of their life in hiding.  Yet she squashed that fancy quickly, knowing that it would be no life at all and--worse--if they were ever found by the Egyptians it would be certain death for the entire family.

No, this was it.  It was time to trust.  At least this way, her son had hope.  And before she could lose her nerve, she waded into the water, set the basket down among the thick reeds, released it, and turned and walked away. 

We know the rest of the story.  It turned out alright in the end for Jochabed and her infant son, Moses.  More than alright, when you consider how God later used Moses for His purpose, and the fact that Jochabed was able to have a hand in that. 

But as a mom?  This part of the story cuts straight through me.  We don't learn a whole lot about Jochabed, but what we do learn is that this woman had faith.   The kind of faith it takes to let go of a basket that's holding your infant son inside of it and let it float down the river.

I feel like I have a strong faith...but that's hard for me to wrap my head around.  And yet there's something familiar in it, too.

Day after day, minute after minute, I am reminded of how quickly I come to the end of myself and have to just simply trust.  Lean.  Do what I can and let the rest up to God.  Have faith.

Especially with this mom stuff.  Too many times to count I have fallen into my bed replaying my day, and feelings of discomfort seep into the deepest part of me.  I've done what I could, and I know that, usually.  But still I worry.

What if it wasn't enough?  I could've handled that situation better.  I should've said this, not that.  I missed this opportunity.  What if it's too late?

I pour my everything into every day and when my weary head finally hits the pillow all I can think about is the ways I've fallen short.  I stress and plan for how I'll do better tomorrow. 

And I wonder...perhaps it's not all the doing our best that gets us as moms; perhaps it's the doing our best, then letting go and letting God do the rest that does us in.

I've learned that one of the hardest things for me to do as a mom is to resist the urge to be the do-all, end-all for my children.  Yet I know my faith is strengthened when I am willing to release my children and my efforts into the arms of God.  Tested, yes!  But ultimately made stronger by this act.

I believe that He honors the simple act of me--humbled to my knees--offering up to Him my bloody, tattered, tear-soaked efforts of all that I am as a mother.  Because ultimately, my children belong to Him, and He loves them more than I ever could or will.  At the same time, He knew exactly what they needed in a mom, and He gave it to me!  And I know that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  (Romans 8:28)

I have to believe this.  Jochabed did. And He honored that.  And that, my friend, should be so encouraging to us as women!

One of my favorite passages from the Bible can be found in Hebrews.  (Hebrews 11)  There is so much to grab in there about the faith of those who came before us.  Verse after verse starts out with, "By faith so-and-so did this or that."  It even mentions Moses' parents:  "By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict."  (v 23)

But this is the part I love the most; it goes on to explain how all of these people were known for their great faith, and yet none of them received what had been promised, since basically their stories were only part of God's plan..."that only together with us would they be made perfect."

Did you catch that?!  I think that sometimes we can get to believing that all of the fantastic stories we read throughout the Bible are the whole of God's great story.  But it was only just the beginning.

And what this passage ensures me is that these stories, plus my story, plus your story, plus my children's stories and your children's stories are ALL part of it.  His beautiful story.  He's still writing!  We only need to let Him write it.  This often means doing only what we've been equipped to do and then floating our proverbial baskets down the river for Him to take care of.

So, I can add my name to this long list of faithful characters and interject my children's names as well:  "By faith Amy did her very best to raise up Jyllian and Katelynn and Evan to be godly forces for good because she knew God would honor her efforts."  I like that.  And I love that we serve a God who would want me, you, and other courageous women like Jochabed to be a part of His story.  Don't you?

 I'm praying for you today.  For everything your basket may hold and that you might have the strength to let go of it and let God write His story.

"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of  faith."  Hebrews 12:1-2 

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