A few weeks back, Sojourn Community Groups Director, Mike Crowe, placed a copy of a Modern Reformation article in my box. The article, Simple Grace, Simple Growth by Kate Treick (March/April 2009, vol. 18.2), contains some faithful encouragement for busy mothers. Here are some best excerpts:
I'm not a monk, I'm a mother! In fact, I am a mother of two children under the age of two. My days are filled with sippy cups, bottles, diapers, Elmo, crayons, chores, church activities, and occasional moments of coveted nap-time solitude. My individual spiritual practices? Let's just say they don't involve hours spent alone under trees with my Bible imagining myself as Mary Magdalene. A few moments reading Scripture, and prayer for friends and family as they pass through my mind.
Sanctification is not a work we undertake through various methods and disciplines, but an amazing act of God's grace. We simply turn to him in our brokenness and receive from his this treasure of grace as he makes us more like Christ. This is fundamentally different from believing that it is up to you to cultivate spiritual growth through the faithful practice of spiritual disciplines.
As the Old Princeton theologian Archibald Alexander affirmed, our spiritual growth is no found in our own attempts at devotion. Instead, "To be emptied of self-dependence, and to know that we need aid for every duty, and even for every good thought, is an important step in our progress in piety." I don't know about you, but I find comfort in this fact, even as it sobers and humbles me.
If I see retreats or even time for personal Bible study as the fundamental component of my spiritual growth, it is easy to become self-absorbed in my spirituality. But if my spiritual life is shaped by meeting with God in the presence of his people and hearing the Word preached by someone set apart to preach it, then the chance of me focusing only on what I want to hear is somewhat lessened. There I am reminded that it was not something I did that made me part of God's people, any more than any other Christian person; rather he chose me to be part of his people (1 Peter 2:9-10). I am part of his Bride. The gathering of his people is to his glory, and to spend time with his people is to my great benefit.
I experienced this last Sunday. I had rushed to get to evening church, setting up my toddler with a few bites of supper while I fed our three-month old baby. After a drive bombarded with the sounds of Elmo and his Sesame Street friends, I deposited my daughter in the nursery, and, finding my usual side-door entrance locked, hurried up the long hill to the front of our church. I careened into the foyer, my beeper from the nursery falling out of the diaper bag and sailing across the floor... And then I encountered God. Not with flashes of light and angels singing, but in the sweet voices of the men and women around me as they began to sing his praise... [Our pastor] reminded us that we often seek that which only gives temporary satisfaction, and Jesus would draw us to be satisfied in him. We turned to the Lord in prayer, asking him to help us find our satisfaction in him. Then I came forward to receive the Lord's Supper... I knew that my satisfaction is in Christ alone, and that I need this time with his people to remember that. I can count on the Lord to use these means of grace to bring his spiritual work in me to completion and to glorify himself in the midst of it all.
Be encouraged. Christ is our sufficiency and satisfaction.