Monday, January 31, 2011

A Devotional for Story Bible Moms

This is the first in a series of short devotionals especially for moms of young children. Please check back next week for more.

I read about these moms who say that they get up an hour before anyone else in the house, settle down with their cup of coffee, and spend some quiet time reading scripture or praying. What a good idea! What a wonderful way to start a busy day. What a grounding, spiritual time. It makes me think of my favorite Martin Luther quote, "I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer." Or maybe the mom version of this is, I shall spend the first half hour (or 15 minutes would be nice, right?).

Here's true confession time. I am certainly not the first person to rise in my household, and if I can help it, I'm usually the last one up. Nor am I the last person to go to bed at night, making quiet prayer time in the evening an impractical proposition. So that nice, grounding time that I know would make my whole day better, well, it just doesn't ever happen.

In fact, many times my daily scripture reading is from Hannah's story Bible. My time for prayer and reflection is listening to her little voice recite the bedtime prayer I taught her. While maybe I can pretend that this is the proper spiritual life for a mom, the truth is, it's not. In fact, I'm dreading the day when Hannah is old enough to ask me what I pray for, and I'll have to tell her that sometimes, I don't.

And I'm sure that I'm not the only person in this boat. Am I right?

Last weekend, Jonathan took Hannah to the library, giving me a precious hour to myself. He asked, "What are you going to do? Read? Sew?" I said, "Wash my hair with no interruptions!" (My morning shower usually sounds like the courtroom scene from Legally Blonde. "Mama, what are you doing?" "I'm in the shower." "Are you in the shower?" "Yes, I'm in the shower, Hannah.")

So I was having my uninterrupted hair washing session, and in the ultimate irony, I was interrupted anyway - by God. A little bit of scripture floated into my brain, from Isaiah 58, "Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen?" Didn't I sign up to do exactly this thing, to spend my days with my child? Is this not the life that I gave up my "other" life for? Isn't this just what I wanted to do?

Yes! It is! I wanted to wash thousands of loads of diapers and scrape dried oatmeal from the floor. Well, maybe not that, but I wanted to be there when Hannah started crawling, and then took her first steps. I wanted to take her to the library and read dozens of books together. I wanted to make sure that she has a nice meal at lunchtime, and that our family has a good dinner on the table - at least most of the time. And I have all of these things. What more could a mom ask for?

Yes, this is exactly the kind of fasting that I have chosen. But this does not mean that I have chosen to fast from reading God's word, or taking the time to say a bit of a prayer here and there. In fact, it is exactly because of this life I have chosen that spending some time with God becomes all the more important. Because if I wanted to be around my kids more so that I could teach them things, what better thing to teach them than the importance of a prayer life, or the discipline of studying scripture? And what better way to teach them than through my example?

This is the fast that I have chosen, and what better way to prepare for it than to spend, if not three hours, than at least three minutes, in prayer?

(By the way, I feel like I have to give this scripture verse a little more credit, and say that this is one of the most beautiful social justice verses of the entire Bible, calling us to social and economic equality by working to break down injustices and build up a society of love and mutual respect. The rest of Isaiah 58:6 says, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?"(NIV) But the context that God gave me last week was definitely about my particular choosing of motherhood.)


  1. I wouldn't want my pastor to know this, but I'm going to start reading your devotionals every week, even though I can't always pay attention to his sermons (you know, kids, distractions). As one of those church people might say, "You have a gift."

    ps - like the new Valentine's Day look for February!


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