Last week I posted a short encouragement to moms of infants and toddlers. I average 200 or so visitors to the blog daily. I’ve had a few times on this blog that daily visitors have spiked over 1000. The Gospel Coalition has picked up a few of my posts. I posted a few articles on Desiring God, and hits to the blog spiked then too. But after the post for moms of infants and toddlers, no major source picked up the blog article. Even so, hits to my blog were at an all-time high. Over 450 (*now it’s 500) individuals shared the article on Facebook—most definitely an all-time high for this blog. I pondered all of this. No major evangelical outlets picked up this article. It didn’t stand out to them, and I respect that. Yet, for the moms in the trenches, it struck a major nerve.
Moms in the trenches—now there’s a demographic. You’re not the soccer moms. More the spit-up moms. The poop moms. The keep-them-from-swallowing-poison-today moms. Raising these little ones has exposed in us something raw and needy. Childbearing. Child rearing. It is not for the faint of heart.
A few years ago, I sat through a Mother’s Day sermon that made me cringe at the onset. The pastor announced his passage, and I wanted to walk out. It was 1 Timothy 2:15.
“Yet she will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.“
Come on, Pastor?! Don’t you know better than to go there?!! Paul sounds like such a sexist there. And, yet, on this particular Sunday, the message ended up being a real encouragement to me. I finally got the point of Paul’s words. I’m sure it helped that I was the mother of 2 young boys stuck in the trenches. As I listened to the pastor’s explanation in light of my own experiences as a young, naïve, but earnest mother, the Spirit made some things clear to me from this passage.
I grew up thinking the term “saved” referred simply to that one point in time in which I walked down the isle of my church, repented of my sins, and publicly professed belief in Christ. That was “getting saved”. Once I “got saved”, that term had served its purpose in my life, and I needed to focus on other Christian obligations. As an adult, I’ve come to understand the broader way the Scripture uses the term salvation. Salvation is a process that follows me from the day I first understand my need for Jesus Christ (or more accurately, from before time began) until I sit at the Marriage Feast in heaven as the Bride of Christ. Scripture uses the terms justification, sanctification, and glorification to define this process. I was saved (justification). I am being saved (sanctification). And I will be saved (glorification).
The term saved encompasses our redemption from sin and reconciliation to God. The entire process is by God’s free grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It begins with justification—God opens my eyes to my need for Him, and I repent of my sin and place my faith in Jesus. God declares me righteous through Christ’s payment for sin on the cross, switching Christ’s perfection to my account and my sin to Christ’s account. But then I wake up the next morning, and I still struggle, quite consistently, with sin. This leads to sanctification—where slowly over time God roots out our sin and conforms us more and more to the image of Jesus Christ. It’s becoming in reality what God has already declared us to be in heaven—i. e. perfectly righteous. Glorification is the end—in heaven, God will present us to Jesus at the Marriage Feast in beauty and perfection. We will finally be in reality a Bride worthy of the Lamb.
But here I am now, a 40 something mother of 2 young boys, stuck right in the middle. I am justified—God has declared me righteous in heaven. I am reconciled to Him through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. But I’m still a sinner. In the midst of that, I begin the process of bearing (the Greek here indicates bringing into existence, forming, becoming, developing) children. For me, this process began years ago when I was a single woman who thought I may never get married and have kids. God was sanctifying me back then through my fear of never bearing children. One older single friend gave testimony to me of the great spiritual struggle she had to say goodbye to the children she would never bear. God rooted out much fear and wrong thinking in her life through that struggle. During the mother’s day sermon in question, the pastor made the point that single and infertile women shouldn’t feel excluded from I Tim. 2:15, because God still uses the issue of childbearing in their lives for their sanctification. I have heard from many women who struggle because they are unable to bear children. They too give testimony that God has used the issue of childbearing to sanctify them much.
Once I did get married, we got pregnant easily, miscarried, and then had problems getting pregnant again. Again, well before I ever physically bore a child, God was using the bearing of children to reveal to me my fears and unbelief. Then finally I had my beautiful boys. They daily bring me great joy. And God uses them daily to reveal to me my great sin. Before I got married, I had no idea how selfish and self-oriented I was. In marriage, I began to see it a little bit. But now, I am bombarded 100 times a day with the need to die to myself. I had NO IDEA I was so alive to myself in the first place. I’m also becoming increasingly aware of how little I trust God. It’s one thing to trust Him with my own safety. Another thing to trust Him with my grown husband. But to trust Him with my vulnerable, little boys?! God once again is rooting out my wrong views of His character and replacing them with the truth of His trustworthiness from His Word.
So, yes, I am being saved—redeemed from sin and conformed to His image—through the bearing, development, and formation of these boys. I realize that for the rest of my life, I will be the mother of these 2 boys. And for the rest of my life, God will use them to test my faith and reveal my wrong thinking, lack of trust, pride, and selfishness. This is my marathon, which is why Paul warned of the need for perseverance in I Timothy 2. God will use them to root out sin, but then He’ll replace it with the righteousness of Christ as He conforms me to His image. To the praise of His glorious grace.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.