When I gave birth to my first child nearly eight years ago, I was totally unprepared for the immense change she would bring to my life. Sure, I knew about 2 AM feedings, sleepless nights and endless piles of laundry. I was aware a newborn would be dependent on me and that this job would consume me like no other occupation. However, I could never have prepared for how emotionally and spiritually consuming this job would be. I had no idea that a child could take such possession of your heart.
At seven and three my daughters no longer require the constant care that they did just a few years ago. Yet the mental and emotional energy my job as a mother requires often leaves me exhausted, with very little to offer my husband and friends. Meanwhile, I imagine God watching in the distance, waiting for me to come and sit with Him, only to be addressed by my half-conscious form as I fall into bed, thanking Him for His blessings—for getting us through another day.
I've spent a great deal of mental energy in my mothering years trying to figure out ways to enhance my time alone with God. I've tried it all—rising early, staying up late, utilizing naptime and even, horror of horrors, putting on a TV show while I sneak away for devotional time. My children, however, seem to have some internal alarm that goes off as soon as I open my Bible and before you know it, someone's been hurt, had a nightmare or needs my attention right now (think: potty training). In the rare times that I haven't been interrupted, I find my thoughts wandering to the dentist appointment that needs to be cancelled, the poor grade on the report card or the sweet exchange I witnessed between my daughter and her Daddy earlier that day. Before I started down the road of motherhood I could pore over passages of the Bible and mull them over for hours on end. I prided myself on my analytical abilities and my love of reading. These days I consider it an accomplishment if my attention span holds out until the end of a paragraph.
So, I often conclude my devotional time feeling frustration and guilt, resolving to try harder next time. When I think of other young mothers with many more children and much more on their plates who manage to study the Bible and spend quality time with God, I wonder, is there something wrong with me? Maybe with a little more perseverance or a more engaging topic I'll have more success. I resolve to find the right study, the right time, the right method—I will leave no stone unturned until I discover it. And if I don't, my youngest will be off to college in a mere fifteen years. Will it be too late for me to begin then?
Lately, God has been challenging me to look at the process a little differently. He keeps drawing me back to the theme of loaves and fish (Matthew 14:14). Jesus himself was faced with a seemingly insurmountable task. There he was in a remote place with a large crowd and dinnertime was quickly approaching. His disciples surveyed the crowd and all they could find was a boy with five loaves and two fish. Under no circumstances would that be enough. They advised him to do the only logical thing, send the people away to find some food. Instead, Jesus took a child's paltry offering and fed the five thousand, collecting twelve baskets of leftovers. Not just enough, more than enough.
I believe in a God who specializes in making something out of nothing. His Word says He is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). I have seen this principle carried out so often in my life: my health, my finances, my human relationships. Yet, when it came to my relationship with God, I found myself believing that I would have to sustain it on my own, that somehow I had the power to do so. What I hadn't realized was that while I thought that I'd been upholding our relationship in the past, it was God doing the work in me all along—His strength made perfect in my weakness.
So when I carve out a moment to come to Him now, I visualize myself holding a paltry offering of too little time and attention. It will never be enough. But I bring it in faith, trusting that He will multiply the little I have and provide me with enough nourishment for that moment, with some to spare.
Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Logos Bible Software. Each issue of Bible Study Magazine provides tools and methods for Bible study as well as insights from people like John Piper, Kay Arthur, Mark Driscoll, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Barry Black, and more. More information is available at http://www.biblestudymagazine.com/. Originally published in print: Copyright Bible Study Magazine (Nov-Dec 2008): pg. 9.