Every year I follow along with the Passion Conference via the live stream. Sometimes it’s just sheer piercing pain to follow along, to hear the speakers calling out to and calling up the next generation, speaking to purpose and destiny. For the past three years I’ve followed along while nursing babies, while recovering from birth in the hospital, while washing dishes in the sink and surrounded by scattered toys and laundry basket.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. I cannot express enough how much I adore this season of being a momma. It was always a dream of mine to be living THIS right here, babies and a house and just the ordinary work of the home. Maybe you think that’s a small dream, I don’t know. When Brandon and I found out our little firstborn was on her way, I didn’t have some big career I was leaving behind like so many of my momma friends. I had been working service jobs for some time since graduating from college. So it wasn’t a hard thing to switch to stay-at-home-momma mode. It has been the greatest joy of my life!
Still, you get a bit in the trenches of it and then you tune into something like Passion and the other ambitions of your heart, the other ambitions for great kingdom work around the world are stirred up again. They are remembered again. Oh yes, that’s who I used to be. I mean, that’s who I still am. Somehow and somewhere, buried under the piles of laundry, bills, dishes, and dark-circled eyes. Somewhere beyond this little world the big world is still spinning.
It’s hard to not be set aflame with great desire to see the nations glad in God when you watch something like Passion. And then you sit there amidst your four little walls and the temptation is to feel small. What is this that I’m doing here?
And then the dangerous question, the question that comes up so often in my heart: Is this enough, God?
Is this enough, in light of all You’ve done for me, Jesus, to just be here cleaning toilets, filling tummies, reading stories, teaching manners, nursing babies, mediating sibling rivalries, folding clothes, running errands? Is this a worthy way to spend my days? Is there more I should be doing? Something more important?
I think any momma who is honest will admit she asks herself that question.
Last night I watched + listened to Christine Caine speaking from 1 Kings 19. It’s well worth your time to go and read the account in its entirety. She was speaking about Elisha, how he got his beginnings in ministry. Did you know that second only to Jesus, he worked the most recorded miracles in Scripture? Elijah found him plowing, and he became Elijah’s assistant.
Did you catch that? Elijah found him plowing. There he was, just working his field, behind a long row of oxen’s rear ends. A place of anonymity. A place of slow progress and slow returns. God found him busy working. God found him. While he was being faithful in the mundane, the unglamorous + irreverent, the dirty, the small, the stinky, and anonymous work, God saw him. God came to him there and gave him a ministry.
Christine Caine was making the point that we simply cannot be resistant to work. We must be busy working, right where we are, wherever we can be. If we want to be greatly used in the kingdom of God, we simply cannot be afraid of plain hard work.
Are we looking for importance? For a big name? For a glamorous position? For esteem? Success? Money?
As I’ve gotten deeper into parenting (while, admittedly, I am still quite the newbie to parenthood), I’ve gotten better at learning what I can feasibly take on and what is going to put too much strain on the family. It’s still so hard to say no sometimes. Yes, there is pressure and guilt, whether real or imagined, from a culture (even the Christian culture) that places such a high premium on productivity, activity, and busyness.
There are a lot of opportunities that I would love to be a part of. Even hearing about global and foreign needs can make me so restless at home. Is this really enough, God, when children are starving? When children are being trafficked? When there are so many who are still unreached? It feels wrong in some ways to just be investing into my own home and children when the need is so great. Yet I know it is “my field” right now.
My husband and I recently went on a little “visioning” date for the New Year and over the course of a few hours worked through Jennie Allen’s “dream guide” and then discussed it together. One of the things I am most convicted about afresh this year is to be wholly given and devoted to my primary field, which is Brandon and my children. I’m often busy mentally at home with girlfriends, fellow mommas, this blog space, and responding to needs in these spheres. While that’s all so good and important, it can’t be that I’m neglecting my kids in order to “minister” elsewhere. I’m so convicted that, as for me, the very best and firsts of my strength must be given to my immediate family (1 Tim. 5:8). If there are scraps of time and energy and resources left, then of course, I am eager to invest it in others as much as I am able. For me the struggle is often getting that backwards, and the result is a husband and children who are getting the scraps and leftovers.
But if you’re like me do you ever wonder, what, then, do I do with these burning desires in my heart to participate in these other kingdom works? When I’m aching to go to Africa but have no means? When there are needs at church that I simply cannot logistically work out a way to help with?
Maybe it’s not revolutionary to you, but the realization hit hard last night while watching Passion. “PRAY the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matt. 9:38) Send the workers into the harvest, Lord! My field here right now may be very small, very tucked away on an obscure little anonymous and unseen plot of land. But I can pray. I can pray the Lord of the harvest to equip and send workers out into the field. I can pray for souls to come to salvation, for all nations to be made glad in Him. I can pray for daily opportunities to plant seeds while I’m plowing this little muddy field. I can trust that at some point, I will be the worker He sends into that field. But in the meantime… this right here is the field I’ve been sent to: For the one so desperately wanting to contribute, you are contributing to the work by raising children up in the fear + admonition of the Lord. God has entrusted you with these children, these precious lives, and you, in all the world, are the best equipped to love, to suffer long with, and train up these little lives. That’s why He gave them to YOU. If you don’t invest in them, who will?
Don’t miss this precious and most important work right in front of you because the global need is beckoning and your former freedoms haunt.
With that said, let’s not discredit prayer as a major contribution. But, see, it too is unseen. It feels small. It feels unimportant and, once again, anonymous. God sees. God hears. The God who beckons us to pray for Him to send out workers, He will honor that prayer with a harvest. A harvest of workers in fields where we cannot work.
If we are not willing to grow smaller in our labors for Him we can never expect to be used greatly by Him. It is the humility of our plowing the prepares us to serve Him in more public endeavors with humility. You see, while we are busy at our plows, He is also turning the soil of the hardened ground of our hearts, breaking up the hard clods of pride there, making us soft, broken, pliable, ready, available, open. Preparing us, accustoming us to decreasing, that He might increase.
What an incredible God we serve, who both calls and enables us to co-labor with Him. What an incredible God, who always reminds us that the servant cannot be greater than his Master (John 13:16), who takes us from one place of serving to another. In the end, no matter what plow He has sovereignly placed in our hands, let us serve Him there with great humility and joy. Let Him find us working!
3 thoughts on “Keep Plowing”
Thanks for sharing Martha! Right on. We must learn to work the slow long haul work in parenting. It is a rich life indeed but yes! I am right there with you asking those same questions…struggling w when to say yes & is this “enough.”
Thank you so much for reading, Amanda, and your encouragement! It’s a beautiful messy joy, this gift of motherhood, eh?!
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