The definition of a radical, risky life might be someone who goes off to be a missionary or sells all they have and gives to the poor. Those things are radical and they sure are risky! But I’d like to add something to this radical, risky list: motherhood. Risk is a word that is rarely associated with motherhood.
John Piper, writing in his new book Risk is Right, writes that a life unwasted looks like a life that honors Christ, magnifies Christ, and makes much of Christ. He writes:
“There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus. If Christ is so valuable that the hope of his immediate and eternal fellowship after death frees us from the self-serving fear of dying and enables us to lay down our lives for the good of others, such love magnifies the glory of Christ like nothing else in the world,” (Kindle 111).
A contented mom who serves her children through menial tasks, shares her faith, lays down some desires, and presses into Christ to know him more sounds like a mom who is trying her best at sacrificial love. The mom, like mine, who works hard during the day for her family so that her children will be able to eat and have a chance at a future, then comes home to continue lovingly serving her family through practical demonstrations as well as with knees down on the ground in prayer, sounds like a mom who is sacrificially loving other people.
The stories of moms and their sacrificial love would be too many to number, and honestly, we will never know many of them. They will live and die never to be known by anyone but their few friends, their church, and their children. You may never be known or rewarded on this earth as a big risk taker—but you are.
Pastor Piper defines risk as: “An action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury” (128).
Moms, we know that there is a loss associated with motherhood. We lose sleep. Our bodies are put through the wringer to give birth. We lose a sort of independence because we now have sweet little lives who are dependent on us. We lose babies through miscarriage or death—putting our hearts at risk. The single mom laboring day and night alone, you are risky. I only have small children and I can sense the risk associated with mothering, I’m not even going to think about the teenage years. And the mom who takes that step of faith to adopt a child and become his mother, you are a risky woman.
And we know that “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
Therein is the crux of our loss. We lose not for our sake and really not even for the sake of our children, but for the sake of Christ. We live to Christ and we die to Christ. It is for his sake that we give our lives to the service of child-rearing. Like Paul we say, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
Our loss isn’t a loss at all. It’s a gain! Our gain is Christ. Less of us, more of him. That is a wonderful exchange. And our kids are a gift from God, a most definite gain!
I want to make something clear. I’m thinking of all moms. I’m talking to you, mom, who is making a valiant effort to show Christ to your children. The mom who puts food on the table and labors to love. The mom who wipes noses and kisses boo-boos. And yes, the mom who labors in secret, often in her home alone without fanfare. You don’t have to go to China to risk your life, we want to be senders and pray for those who go and perhaps assist financially. But, lay down your ordinary life and you will have risked it.
( A version of this originally appeared on Women of God Magazine)
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