By Mary Beth Odom
I watched from across the room as his chubby baby hands clung to hers. I thought about how those precious weathered hands of hers had served me tirelessly over the years. Their eyes locked, they exchanged smiles, and he let out a squeal of delight. Time seemed to stand still as I stood watching my dear mom hold my infant son. I saw a look of joyful satisfaction in my mom’s eyes as she held her newest grandbaby. She caught me staring, soaking in this sweet moment. As I went back to the chaos of a busy morning of cleaning up a cereal spill, packing lunches for my picky eaters, looking for a missing pair of shoes, all the while downing some caffeine to wake me up from a long night with the baby, she spoke words of wisdom that I needed to hear. “Honey, one day it will be quiet and you will miss the noise, the messes, the chaos. Before you know it, they will all be grown. So for now, knowing there is rest ahead, find joy today.” But it was one of those days where I didn’t feel joy. I wasn’t even fighting for it. I was like Peter walking on the water to meet Jesus, looking around at the waves, and I was sinking. God used my mom that morning to make me think, lead me to His Word, and redirect my gaze upon Him, and there I found joy despite the waves.
My mom was wise to help me to look ahead down the corridors of time. In the midst of a season where my days are filled with changing diapers, mopping up spilled apple juice, teaching them to write their names, and pick up their socks, wondering if I will survive on such little sleep to make it to the day where these little people can feed and actually bathe themselves. It helps to remember this is only a season. One day, by God’s grace, they will all be able to read, they will all be potty trained (although some days I have my doubts), and will grow up to be responsible human beings. In faith, I look ahead, and I’m encouraged to press on and embrace this calling and these fleeting days. Yes, there is a joyful satisfaction and even rest ahead one day, but God has joy for me now.
Fixing my Eyes
The writer of Hebrews compares a life of faith to a runner in a race. It’s a long race, one that requires endurance and most definitely faith. The call is to throw off any weight that hinders, to run with endurance, and here is the key, to fix our eyes on the finished line, the prize–Jesus. And get this, He runs with us giving us faith and perfecting it along the way (Hebrews 12:2)! Then, God has given us the most beautiful picture and example to follow. Jesus himself, for the joy set before him, endured opposition, ran his race to the cross, took the wrath of God upon himself, and gave his life for us. He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God in the satisfied joy of His Father. When I consider these glorious things, I can have joy because:
My joy is present because it is fixed in the past work of Christ,
sustained in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit,
and set before me in the future glory and presence of my Heavenly Father.
Counting it all Joy
Yet what about those days where we don’t feel joy? What do we do when our kids don’t obey, when they sin against us and we sin against them? We run to Him (this one’s a sprint!) We fix our eyes on Him once again, and remind ourselves and our kids how much we all need the gospel. And when the trials come, consider Jesus (Hebrews 12), count them as joy (James 1:2), knowing that He is at work in you, using them for good (Romans 8:28).
Embrace whatever season you are in
Each day I get to spend with these vivacious little creatures is a gift. We get to laugh together, hide in homemade forts, play wiffle ball in the backyard, and learn about the God who has orchestrated them so wonderfully (Psalm 139). It helps to think ahead, but I don’t want to miss the joy God has for me today. For as we run this race, if our calling is motherhood, then it will be sanctifying, and God has much of Himself to reveal. So regardless of the season we are in, whatever is keeping you up at night, whether it be rocking teething babies, waiting on teenagers to come home safely, or the loneliness of an empty nest, there is joy because Jesus is there. And dear Mom, God desires that we live with joy, that’s one reason he gave you His Son and that’s why he gave you these little people; they help point you to Him and your desperate need for Him. So let’s fix our eyes on Jesus, for He Himself is our joy.
Mary Beth Odom has been married to her husband, Dave, for almost 12 years. She is the mother of four children, one girl and three boys. She has been a pastor’s wife for 8 years, and has now embraced the new role of a church planter’s wife. They are in the process of planting Redeeming Grace Church in Franklin, Tennessee this fall. She enjoys writing about what God is teaching her through marriage, parenting, and serving the church.
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