Dear Church Family,
Have you ever heard someone say, “Find out where God is working and then join Him there”? Several people, including Henry Blackaby in his study Experiencing God, have made statements like this one along the way. My intention for this newsletter is not to comment on the usefulness of this directive, but to ask the question, “How do we know where God is working in the first place?” Well, how would you answer? What areas do you think of first?
For many of us, we think of evangelistic crusades, world missions, anointed preaching, or Christian camps. In other words, we think of special or unusual events. We think of extra-ordinary occurrences. We don’t tend to think about God working through the regular, usual, or ordinary. Sadly, this disposition causes us to miss some of the greatest and most beautiful ways God is working in our midst. One of those is in the miracle of motherhood.
In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah has just come down from a literal “mountaintop” experience. The fire of the Lord fell from heaven and consumed the altar made of twelve stones that had been soaked with twelve jars of water. The people of the Lord fell on their faces and confessed the Lord is God. It was pretty clear to everyone God was at work in this unique moment. But surprisingly, we find a discouraged prophet fleeing for his life and then wanting the Lord to take his life so soon afterward. Eventually after eating, drinking, and sleeping, Elijah comes to a cave where in his isolation the word of the Lord comes to him with a question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah explains that his devotion to the Lord has lead to his despair. Elijah believes he is all alone.
Then the Lord does something very interesting. He causes a great wind followed by an earthquake followed by a fire—but we’re told, the Lord was not in any of them. All these extraordinary displays of might are followed by the ordinary sound of a low whisper. At this, Elijah recognizes the presence of the Lord and wraps his face in a cloak before he stands before Him. Again the question from the Lord comes, and again, Elijah’s answer is the same. The Lord then gives him a set of specific instructions and caps them off by telling Elijah He will preserve 7,000 who are devoted to the Lord like he is.
I do not claim to understand everything about what is going on in this passage, but at least one thing seems very clear. Elijah was able to recognize that God was not in the dramatic displays of force that passed before him. Instead, he sensed God’s presence was revealed in a low whisper. This was a picture of what Elijah should have recognized about the Lord’s work in Israel. Elijah was convinced he was the only one left, but quietly and unnoticed by Elijah, God had been working to raise up and preserve 7,000 faithful. The point—just because we can’t always perceive God working doesn’t mean He isn’t working all the same.
So what does this have to do with motherhood? There is no possible way for us to know the full impact mothers have in our lives and in the course of human history. Changing dirty diapers, wiping away tears, answering endless questions, modeling humble service, thinking of ways to encourage, praying for conversion—none of these “low whispers” may seem to contain the presence of God on the face of it. The ins and outs of routine and everyday regular life may seem to be meaningless in comparison with what we often only hear or read about in other places or with other people. But sisters, it is through these unnoticed, unthanked little moments that God is making His presence known and is one of the ways through which He is accomplishing His work in the world.
As mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and mothers in the faith, you may feel like Elijah. You may be rocked with discouragement or filled with doubt as you think about your life and its impact for the kingdom. But let me encourage you to remember what Elijah had forgotten—God is at work in your ordinary faithfulness. You may not always be able to see or sense His presence, but He is with you and He is at work in you for His Own good pleasure. Thank you for your care, your resolve, and your love. May the Lord continue to display His presence through your faithfulness as He works through you. Happy Mothers’ Day!