A number of years ago, Keith gave me a bunch of poppies. It was not a beautiful bunch of flowers at first, as it was a bunch of pods. I put them in a vase in the middle of our kitchen table, thinking I never would have chosen this particular bunch of flowers as it looked rather ugly.
Much to my surprise, these pods turned into the most spectacular bunch of flowers imaginable - and it happened before our eyes. My family would sit at the table and watch a pod “pop”, bursting out of its shell and revealing a brand new flower. I can still remember how I felt very much like the pod and desperately longed to become one of those flowers.
Being a mother of small children had exhausted me, and I had few reserves remaining. I was a Christian, and could tell you with my mouth that I was God’s precious child, but I certainly didn’t feel it inside. I honestly didn’t think that I mattered to God at all. Keith was working at a large church and was very busy, working many nights and long days. I felt like what he did was important and mattered to God. I had invested most of my energy into being a wife and mother, but didn’t feel like I was doing a particularly good job at either and must be a profound disappointment to God.
Soon after this bunch of poppies arrived, I was asked to give a talk on grace. God in His profound goodness, used this talk to speak to me of His grace toward me. It was like becoming a Christian all over again and I felt like something burst inside me – I was no longer a pod, but God’s beautiful flower.
We are not saved by being perfect
If you find yourself feeling like a no good, very bad Christian mother, it is good to remind yourself of the depth of God’s deep deep love for you. A wise mum knows that she is nothing without God’s grace. His love for you today is the same as it was on the day you were saved.
Perhaps it is just me, but it's easy to forget we are saved by grace. We are not saved by having perfect marriages, perfect children or filling our day with good deeds. Of course, these are all good things, but our salvation is not dependent upon them. It is easy to demand perfection of ourselves and think this is also what God demands. But let me tell you, this will lead to a pretty bleak, “pod-like” existence, because perfection is unreachable.
If you look at Zephaniah, it describes how God feels about His chosen people:
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (3:17)
This verse tells us that God actually delights in each one of us! Why? Is it because we are such utterly adorable creatures? Or is it because our children are so totally irresistible? No – He delights in us because He loves us just as we are. That is one of the wonders of grace.
Don't forget about grace
Fifteen years down the track from that first bunch of poppies, I still need to be reminded about grace. Don’t you think I would have it nailed by now? I haven’t got small children to entertain during a wet school holiday week. I am not in that same state of zombie-like exhaustion. However, I have mastered the art of forgetfulness. It is easy to live each day as if grace is not a truth that has profound implications for how we treat others, how we see ourselves and the choices we make.
I have started reading Psalm 100 most mornings – in five verses, the reader is reminded to be joyful, thankful and glad. Why? Because the Lord is God, He made us, we are His and He is good. His love endures for ever and his faithfulness continues through all generations.
When I remember these things about God, I remember that I am saved by His grace, and I am filled with much thankfulness.
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