“The gospel is so foolish (according to my natural wisdom), so scandalous (according to my conscience), and so incredible (according to my timid heart), that it is a daily battle to believe the full scope of it as I should. There is simply no other way to compete with the forebodings of my conscience, the condemning of my heart, and the lies of the world and the Devil than to overwhelm such things with daily rehearsings of the gospel.”
Milton Vincent, The Gospel Primer
I accepted the Lord when I was very young. I feel so very blessed that the Holy Spirit prompted that in me because I’ve been able to walk through most of my life with His guidance, and that is a gift.
However, familiarity can breed complacency. It is easy to become stagnant and forget the significance of the things that brought me to faith in the first place. And somewhere along the way, I inaccurately defined the gospel as simple and boastfully presumed there was not much left for me to discover.
I needed Jesus, God gave me Jesus, I accepted Jesus and was saved. From that point, it was time to pull up the old bootstraps, put in the work, and figure out on my own how to look like Him. It was on me to develop a love for others, patience, kindness, be good, gentle, and self-controlled.
When I did not do these things well, God did not approve. When I did, God wanted more of that kind of behavior. I operated as if my standing with him swung on a pendulum based on my actions. I don’t know how I missed the part in Galatians that talks about how these are fruits of the Holy Spirit, not fruits of my own production.
Therefore, the key to looking more like Jesus was to lean into the Holy Spirit and let Him do the work of producing the Fruits of the Spirit within me. When I decided to live in a state of surrender instead of a state of constant striving and production, I never felt freer in my life.
I also never felt more thankful for the richness and depth of the gospel. When I think about the fact that Paul spent most of his time writing the gospel to believers (the beginning of Ephesians, Colossians, the first eleven chapters of Romans to name a few), restating it to them as a means of encouragement, admonishment, correction, and love, I’m reminded of the significance of it and what it does to my soul when I preach the gospel to myself and meditate on it as a regular spiritual discipline.
This is significant in my role as a mother because the state of my soul and the posture of my heart directly affect how I interact with my two lovely children. When I intentionally meditate on gospel truths, I am better equipped to display those truths to my kids (and actually see them as lovely, which, in truth, is hard sometimes). I can’t show them what I’m not experiencing myself.
In Christianity, meditation is not an emptying of the mind. It is, as Richard Foster defines in The Celebration of Discipline, an intentional filling of the mind. Foster also speaks to the significance of silence and quiet in the practice of this discipline, which is important, but hard to find in the early years of motherhood.
In that, I’m learning to capitalize on the time I do have and trying to find peace and quiet stillness in my mind when it isn’t found in my reality. So, when I can’t find silence, I can still commit to the intentional practice of filling my mind with the truths of the gospel.
I can think of countless examples with my own kids when I have needed an intentional shift in my thinking. I had a feeling I wasn’t alone, so I asked my wonderful and wise friends to share when they feel like they need the gospel the most in motherhood.
It was apparent that we can all clearly see our need for the gospel in this beautiful, challenging, and sanctifying role. I was not too surprised to find a thread of connection between all our answers. Really, we all need the gospel to remember who God really is, who that means we really are, and how we can show both of those things to our kids. We want them to know God and know who they are because of God. We want them to feel fiercely loved, fiercely protected, and experience the richness and fullness of the gospel themselves.
Gospel Meditations for Motherhood Moments
When my kids aren’t meeting my expectations:
I am first and foremost a child of God, who constantly fails and falls and is still wrapped in the Gospel of Grace. My children are first and foremost children of God who are gifted the same blessing by their heavenly Father. God sent Jesus because I could never be perfect righteousness on my own. I am not crushed by the expectations of righteousness, but Christ was on my behalf. Therefore, when my kids fail the expectations I set, I can see that I too am a child who could not begin to meet the expectation of righteousness. But God, who loved me anyway, showed me grace. Instead of being frustrated by my lack of righteousness, He gave me a way to be righteous through his Son.
When I need patience:
My flesh is not naturally patient. But, because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, leading to the gift of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling within believers, I have the power and strength to be patient when my flesh does not want to be. In his long-suffering love, God is the most patient towards me always, gently correcting and guiding. He does so, not with unintentional or distantly harsh gestures, but with an intimate and personal embrace. I can do the same with my children, asking the Holy Spirit to show them His patience through me, that they may see a picture of his love in me.
When I feel like a failure:
I need grace. I need the Love of the Father to remind me that my imperfections as a parent are not moments that will destroy my kids forever but are opportunities for me to model to them what humility looks like. What self-forgiveness looks like. The gospel reminds me that I am not above apologizing, that I can and should express remorse for my mistakes, and seek restoration. The very foundation of the gospel is forgiveness and restoration. The gospel also shows me that my failures do not hold more weight than God’s sovereignty. The gospel narrative is riddled with people who made mistakes and failed a lot, but God’s plan for salvation still came to fruition. I can forgive myself for my own shortcomings and ask for forgiveness from others, knowing that God, who is rich in mercy, has forgiven me.
When I need to show grace:
The Father, in His goodness, does not withhold his grace. My children are not things to be managed, but people to love. They need that grace in their lives as much as I do, and I want to be a tangible representation of that grace to them. Therefore, when I need to show grace to my children, I can cling to the grace the Father shows me every moment of every day. And grace is not the withholding of correction, but rather the foundation of correction. When I show my children grace, I am showing them that their behavior does not change the levels of my affection for them and that the cost of a wrong choice is never my love.
When I need to discipline my children:
The Father, in His goodness, does not withhold his discipline. Correction and teaching are not separate from grace, but grace and discipline go hand in hand. In The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges defines discipline as “all instruction, all reproof, and correction, all providentially directed hardships in our lives that are aimed at cultivating spiritual growth and godly character.” If discipline is for the sake of growth and development of Godly character, and the Lord’s grace is what allows his presence to be so prominent in our lives, then his discipline only comes on the foundation of His grace. Cultivating Godly character is not a punishment, and growth is not a negative consequence. As I model the Lord, the discipline I give now and, in the future, should never be devoid of grace.
When I desire good things for my kids:
The gospel is the most beautiful gift! God, being a good Father, has given us everything we need for life and godliness in the gospel. When I desire good things for my children, when I want to give them the best of gifts, I can see the goodness of God the Father, who has blessed me abundantly with the gift of His Son. I can relish the love He has for me, and for my children.
When my anxieties or fears are about my kids:
I am not the only one who desires good things for my children. I am not the only one who wants to protect them and see them flourish. The gift of peace the gospel gives to me is also there for my children. When they are outside of my care and out of my sight, they have a God who will be with them through any difficulty they may face in this life. The gospel speaks to the trouble of this world, so as heartbreaking as it is, I know I cannot stop my children from experiencing it. I can, however, show them how to experience the comfort the Prince of Peace provides through hardship. When I entrust my fears to the loving hands of Jesus, it models to my children that they can do the same. The gospel also equips me to intercede in prayer on my children’s behalf, knowing that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, making my requests known to God.
Looking for a community or someone to grab coffee with who is in a similar life season? We’d love to connect with you and get to know you better! Below you will find a few people that can’t wait to meet you, shoot us an email so we can make a plan!
Tyler OJ Campus
Teresa Ator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bethanie Tayler: email@example.com
Tyler UB Campus
Max Heller: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrisleigh Heller: email@example.com
Molly Pontius: firstname.lastname@example.org
Debra Kirby: email@example.com