You're probably wondering about the daughter Isabella loves to clean-she comes by it honestly. I am a shameless clean freak. One morning I was working away in the kitchen while she had the mop I'd left out overnight to dry. And I look over to check on her and my then-7-month-old son, and say the five words I never thought I'd say as a parent, "Isabella, don't mop your brother!" He didn't mind, and she just wanted to make sure he was sparkly. So welcome to my world!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Piggy Banks and Missions

When I was a kid, every Sunday night when we had Bible story time at church, we pulled out this tiny globe bank. Each of us brought up our pennies or dimes or whatever, and as we dropped the money in, we quoted 2 Corinthians 9:7b, “God loves a cheerful giver.” It was just what we did and, being 7 or 8 years old, we didn’t really think anything more about it.

But this verse just hit me like a ton of bricks recently as I was reading Ann Graham Lotz’s book I Saw the Lord. Here’s what first captured my attention: “In our work and in our mission we are motivated, not by a sense of duty, not by our pride or privileges, not by our reputations or responsibilities, but by the same revival fire that burned within Peter and Paul: we have seen the Lord, and we work for Him simply because we love Him!” (pp. 159-160) And the other part that got me was a few pages over: “His [Isaiah’s] service was not to be some holy hobby or short term project…it was to be a lifestyle!...The success…would not be determined by the number of people whose lives he changed but by his faithfulness to obey his Lord.” (pp. 161-162)
I was so struck by the fact that my “wifery”-serving my husband, and my mothering should not be duties, or things I just “do”, but should be done because I love the Lord. My success-either at the end of the day or when my children leave home-will not be based on their changed lives (although that is a major part of it), but instead on my faithfulness to God-which includes training them in the ways of the Lord. As moms we’ve all had those days where we’re eager to get the kids to bed and flop on the couch, exhausted and defeated. We look at the mess still to be cleaned up, the things that didn’t get done, the time we yelled at our littles or completely blew a situation, and we can beat ourselves up about that. Or…we can see the nose wiping, the diaper changing, the lunch fixing, the picking up of toys, the time spent playing CandyLand for the millionth time, the day-long interaction with our children as obedience to God and know that, at the end of the day, we served Him out of love and faithfulness.
But here’s where 2 Corinthians comes in. I’d always equated that verse with giving money-after all, God loves a cheerful giver-what else could that mean? I looked through the Greek words and didn’t see that this is absolutely tied in with money. So I went in search of the exact verse to journal about and here’s where it blew up:
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, ESV
Verse 7: “as he has decided in his heart”-other versions say “as he has purposed in his heart.” First off, I have to purpose in my heart to spend my day in faithfulness and obedience to my Lord. It’s bringing up from the stores in one’s heart. Of course, this requires my heart to be full of God’s purposes and the fruits of the Spirit.
“not reluctantly or under compulsion”-not out of annoyance or affliction, not out of necessity, imposed either by the circumstance or by law or duty or distress. This speaks to the serving out of love and not because “I’m a mom-it’s what I do.”
“cheerful”-prompt to do anything (obedience!) God loves a woman who is prompt to do anything for her husband and children. I must admit, I’m not always prompt to meet their needs. More often than not, my kids hear, “In just a minute,” while I finish up what I’m working on. This doesn’t mean we have to drop what we’re doing the second the request for milk comes through, but it does mean putting away my agenda and being on God’s.
Verse 8: “grace”-that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech, good will, loving-kindness, favor
“abound”-be over, in abundance, overflowing
“sufficiency”-a mind contented with its lot

So, if I can sort of piece this together and make my own version of these verses as they related to our missions as moms, it would look something like this:
“The point is this: whoever pours the bare minimum into their husbands and children will get back the bare minimum, and whoever pours much into their husbands and children will get back much. Each woman must serve her family as she has decided to obey God in her heart, not out of annoyance or a sense of duty, for God loves a woman who obeys Him quickly. And God is able to give you overflowing joy, pleasure and delight in serving Him through your family, He will cause you to be contented with serving at all times, and you may be overflowing in your joy in serving."
So, what began as a verse we quoted over a metal piggy bank that we plinked dimes into to help missions all those years ago has become a direction-giving, strengthening verse to help me with my job mission as a mom.

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