I was 24 years old and headed home from the hospital after having our first baby.
My husband took me through the drive-through of a fast food place to compensate for 48 hours of hospital food and I popped the passenger’s side mirror down for a look at my new Mom face.
Two days ago I was an ordinary woman.
Did I look different? Could the miracle be reflected on my face, not just in my postpartum body?
I looked into my eyes, examined the reflection critically and hopefully, and then I found it.
My first gray hair.
No one told me about this. They promised that my brown locks might change after delivering a baby, but I was hoping for curls or at least some waves in my stick-straight hair.
No one said I’d begin to go gray the moment I gave birth.
Dear women, we need to keep each other informed about these things!
So, I just had to absorb the shock right there while staring into the car mirror.
There have been other moments since then, of course, the slow acceptance of the changes that Mom-life brings:
More gray hairs.
The putting aside of jeans that do not now and will likely never fit me again.
The loss of sleep and “me” time.
The inability much of the time to finish sentences, remember why I came in the kitchen, or call my children by their rightful names without first running through every other child’s name.
And the hardest of all, the accepting of the post-C-section body in the full-length bathroom mirror.
But after mild shock (or perhaps a private cry) and the eventual resignation, there’s something deeply beautiful about this idea:
That Christ gave His very own body up for me…..
Surely I can give of my very own flesh to others.
It’s not just a mother’s privileged sacrifice, but this is ministry and this is Christ-love.
That’s what Paul tells the church:
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
How do I care for my son in 2 a.m. feedings and all through the day every day? I’m nurturing him with my very own self, putting aside my own agenda and desires to satisfy him, love him, pour health and growth and well-being into him.
Paul says he did this, cared for the church so much that he tended to their needs and nourished their faith with spiritual food brought forth from his own unselfishness.
He didn’t just share the gospel of God. No, it went beyond that, to the very giving over of his life also, all because he loved them.
Yes, Paul laid his body down for the church, for the lost, and ultimately for Christ, enduring the beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, storms, imprisonment, snake bites and more that came with His calling.
Our calling likely requires sacrifice, too. Maybe not the same as Paul’s. Maybe not the same as a mother’s.
But God calls us to lay self down and pick up that hefty splintered cross daily to follow Him.
Sometimes I want self-protection instead, comfy ministry without sacrifice or self-denial. I want my rights, my privileges, my agenda and my plans.
Yet, here is my calling, a ministry to my family, a ministry to others…..
Long ago, a man named Darrell Evans sang:
I lay me down…
I lay it down…
I lay my life down…
A living sacrifice to You
In order to lift up Christ, I lay this down.
All of it.
And you? Has God asked you to do this, to care for another as attentively and sacrificially as a nursing mother pouring in life to an infant in her arms? Has He asked you to share, not just the Gospel, but your very own life, as well?
Perhaps for your husband, for your children. Maybe for the struggling young mother in your church, the single mom, the homeless and hurting, the young children sitting in your Sunday School class?
This is our daily worship, the sacrifice we lay on the altar for God’s glory and for Christ’s name.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King