A devotional focusing on the art of sacrificing and the joy that can actually come with sacrificial motherhood. In a culture of self love and self care, Mothers are still called to place their child’s needs above their own, but I fully believe that is a good thing!
I think the term “vessels” should be a interchangeable with the word Mother.
They are essentially the same things.
We are vessels, filled up and poured out, for God time and time again. Even in the absolute most literal sense.
Have you ever thought about how amazing it is to be invited by God to carry His next great creation into the world?
Sometimes we can look at children as just another step in the road of life.
Sometimes we can even think they are owed to us.
In a culture where abortion, frozen embryos, and this idea that “children lead to poverty” are completely commonplace ideas, no wonder we forget the value of children. And subsequently, the value of the title of Mother.
But God has allowed us as Mothers to step into a very undeserving and sacrificial role.
We are invited to be a vessel.
He didn’t need us to fill the world with His precious image bearers. He made Adam from dust, after all. And Eve from Adam’s rib.
He did not need the womb of a woman in order to create children.
He freely and lovingly invited us into that space.
Filling Vessels of Honor
So what does it mean to be a vessel, to be a mother?
Our hearts are a lullaby, our bodies a passage way.
Deep within us, something-oh, so very tiny– begins to grow. Sprouting arms and legs, a tiny intricate heart beating. a completely new and different being- created with purpose.
And all of that happens without your management.
I’m guessing if I asked you how to grow a human arm, you would insist you don’t know.
And you don’t. Though you may have grown 10 of them! Because you are a vessel.
An empty bottle that God Himself has used to create new life.
There is really no better way to realize you are not your own than to get pregnant.
Suddenly foods you love become appalling to you.
Things you would never eat become obsessive cravings.
Try as you might to push past the morning sickness or GERD, it is all consuming. The whole “my body, my choice” argument flies out the door the minute you are pregnant.
It isn’t ‘your body’ at all anymore.
It belongs to a growing, demanding baby the size of a grain of rice.
We can paint this negatively, and when you don’t feel well, it is super easy to do so.
But were you ever your own? No, you were bought with a price.
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20
Your body is now glorifying God in a new way. A vessel of honor- being filled to bring glory to God.
A Vessel Poured Out
I’m always thankful for how the Bible addresses childbirth.
So many women want to paint it as a painless experience, and I hope that for you it is. But it has never been for me.
I’m thankful for the process (afterwards, anyways) but it isn’t fun or enjoyable.
The thing is being poured out is hard. Whether in the figurative sense or the literal.
There is no painless way to empty ourselves. You may numb the pain or push past it, but still the pain occurs.
In Psalm 22:14 there is an amazing prophecy about Jesus on the cross and it says:
“I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint.”
Jesus knew what it meant to be poured out in a very literal way.
He knew the pain of being a vessel poured out for God’s glory.
And He embraced it and endured it- for us.
Being invited into a space where we can labor with God- where we can be filled up, poured out, and suffer alongside of Him who knows the pain all too well- is no small thing.
Mama, you are a vessel- and your body, your life has been laid on the altar.
Life on the Altar
When something is laid upon the altar, it is no longer yours.
It is an offering to God, a complete surrender.
Even Isaac, who did not remain upon the altar where Abraham had laid him was ultimately left there, in the sense that Abraham chose God over Isaac. And that didn’t change when Isaac got up.
Perhaps we realize it at the time, and perhaps we don’t, but when we receive salvation- we lay our lives upon the altar.
We don’t walk away a better version of our past selves. We walk away a new creation, a new heart that is sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
Immediately, we become a vessel for honor.
And we walk in that daily from that point forward.
Time and time again placing our lives back on the altar and surrendering the places where flesh still seems to break through.
It happens when we become a Mama, too.
Motherhood is a high and noble calling.
It is not an invitation to get flowers on Mother’s Day and praise from Mom groups. Instead it is an invitation to lay down our lives- our dreams and our desires- and put someone else above ourselves.
When the baby cries at 2am and you pull yourself up in bed, exhausted and sore, peeling back your eyelids to nurse your restless baby- your life is on the altar.
When you watch the school bus drive by through tear dimmed eyes, thinking how nice it would be to just send them to school for a few hours as you pour over the math lesson and a fussy seven year old- your life is on the altar.
And when you want so badly to hold on to that sweet young man as he tightens his tie on his wedding day, knowing that you taught him to uncleave from you and you should be proud- your life in on the altar.
The Empty Cup
I’m sure we’ve all heard it said, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
But I’ll bet you do.
As Mamas, there are moments when we are empty- pregnant or not.
There are moments when there is nothing left to give. Some may call this burn-out.
Tears sting our eyes as we push through the feeling of complete emptiness and life continues to shake us in hopes that a few drops may yet spill out.
And somehow they do.
When you come to the end of yourself and still somehow manage the bedtime routine to to bandage another scrape.
When your insides are exploding but you somehow manage that preschool teacher voice to whisper, “What’s wrong now honey?”
Motherhood can be tough, and sometimes our cup is empty. Sometimes we are empty vessels, still laid out on the altar, what then?
The Overflowing Vessel
So how does a Mama who is poured out and emptied become full once again?
I think we all know our culture’s answer to this: self care.
The best lies are the ones that have a little truth in them.
Taking care of ourselves is important. It isn’t a selfish thing at all to eat well, work out, read a book, or sip a coffee in solitude from time to time.
There is a difference however between taking care of yourself and this new culture of self care.
Self care is this idea that anything or anyone that inconveniences us or weighs on our mental health is best left behind.
This culture of self care has caused hundreds of thousands of people to write off relationships with loved ones labeling them “toxic”. It has inspired many to rid themselves of anything hard like marriage, children, and even work. Self care is selfish and self centered.
So how should we, as Mamas embracing sacrificial motherhood, ensure that our cup remains filled without being selfish or placing our children on the back burner?
The answer is so simple: Jesus.
Jesus is the answer to how an empty cup continues to pour out. Jesus is the answer to how we refill our cup when we are low. And best of all, Jesus is the answer to how our cup overflows spilling over onto all of those around us.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.”
– Psalms 23:5
When Jesus is the fountain from which you drink, there is never a lack.
Sure, hard days will come and you will feel empty sometimes, but you know where to go for a refill. And He continues to overflow our cup time and time again.
These Long Days, and Short Little Years
As Mamas, we do a lot of things.
I sit here writing this- a vessel 32 weeks filled– preparing to be poured out again.
My one year old fast asleep in my arms and my two year old snoozing at my side. To someone else, it probably looks like I have wasted my life- my youth– on raising littles.
A comedian recently put out a video that went viral on what a day without having children looks like. (If you haven’t seen it, don’t watch it. It isn’t very nice.)
Essentially it looks like smoking pot, sleeping half the day, jet setting, and being Wonder Woman… I don’t know what is more sad- the fact that childlessness is seen as a way to get ahead. The fact that selfishness is the ultimate goal. Or the fact that she has had three abortions in order to maintain her carefree lifestyle.
My days don’t look like that.
And I’m guessing yours don’t either.
I, for one, am so glad they don’t.
Mama, I know you are tired.
I know you forgot what sleeping in looks like.
I know your body is marked by stretch marks- your wardrobe stained with spit up.
These are long days- and short little years.
Your main credentials at the moment are memorizing Madeline and not burning dinner- and I hope you know how beautiful that is to God.
You are a vessel, a life on the altar. Living out the beauty of sacrificial motherhood.
To our culture, you settled.
You aren’t reaching your full potential.
You are trapped beneath the glass ceiling.
But to God, you are a vessel of honor. Chosen. Beloved.
When you go for that final push in labor, it is Him that pulls you through.
When sleepless nights come- He sees you.
When you feel like a shell of who you once were, He reminds you He is making you new.
So heat your coffee one more time. Hold your littles while you pee. Consider grocery trips a break. And embrace the invitation to be a vessel- sacrificial motherhood is such a high calling.
Happy Filling up and Pouring Out, my sweet friends!
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