Never was I the girl who dreamt of unicorns, tiaras, and Prince Charming. Growing up, I was an “accidental feminist” who fought for women empowerment. In hindsight, it would seem that I have grossly misunderstood God’s design for women, as settling down was farthest from my mind when I entered seminary back in 2005. Homemaking and child rearing, I thought, would just slow me down if I allowed myself to fall victim to this oppressive male dominated society. Yet because of God’s providence, He allowed me to discover the true essence of femininity as taught in the Scriptures. The Lord also led me to find a kindred spirit, with whom I share the love for good coffee, good books, and good theology.
When my husband and I first got married, we faced the challenges of church planting together. It was a lot like caring for a baby, and we were both treading on new ground. We both faced the increasing demands of a fledgling ministry, and the prospect of another newborn in nine months.
A year into our marriage, the Lord was pleased to bless us with a daughter. It was also during those times that I, together with my husband, made the conscious decision that I will be setting aside public ministry for a while, in order to become a full-time mother. While I understand that some women choose to walk both paths of family and career at the same time, it became my conviction that the best way to rear my child was to stay at home. Not surprisingly, I was cajoled more often than I can remember that my seminary degree would be put to waste if I did. However, knowing that the formative years are particularly crucial, I was neither convinced to allow somebody else to stay home my child, while I concern myself with other more important duties. I took heed this caveat from an old venerable pastor,
The babe grows into the child; the child into the youth; the youth into the man; and the man into the immortal; and that immortal will be an heir of glory—or a child of perdition. Let this be remembered from the beginning and always acted upon.
In the same manner, Martin Luther, too, asserted the importance of child-rearing as each parent’s supreme gospel work to children:
Now the ones who recognise the estate of marriage are those who firmly believe that God himself instituted it, brought husband and wife together, and ordained that they should beget children and care for them… But the greatest good in married life, that which makes all suffering and labour worth while, is that God grants offspring and commands that they be brought up to worship and serve him. In all the world this is the noblest and most precious work, because to God there can be nothing dearer than the salvation of souls. Now since we are all duty bound to suffer death, if need be, that we might bring a single soul to God, you can see how rich the estate of marriage is in good works. God has entrusted to its bosom souls begotten of its own body, on whom it can lavish all manner of Christian works. Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal. Whoever teaches the gospel to another is truly his apostle and bishop… See therefore how good and great is God’s work and ordinance!
My primary role as a mother of my child is to raise her in the instruction of the Lord, for she has been gifted to me for that very purpose. This I was determined to do, by God’s grace, in the home that He has blessed us with.
Yet the more I journey in this season of motherhood, the more I realize that there are even more bridges to cross. Without understanding the beauty and blessings of the Gospel daily, I would never be able to embrace and exercise the role of wife, mother, and homemaker, at the same time. It is a constant dying to the desires of doing “more relevant” work, of acquiring another academic degree, or pursuing other vain pursuits and paths to glory. But as a wife to my husband, the Gospel assures me a dignity that is no less than his. We are co-heirs in the grace of Christ. It is vital that I daily recognize and recall my divine calling to come alongside him in his own mission from the Lord. One of the ways of doing this is to fulfill my responsibility as a mother to our child in the home no matter how seemingly mundane it can be. As a mother, I am called to instruct my child in the Word of God by seeking to show her that the Bible is not a compendium of separate stories or mere examples of moral principles that she can follow, instead God’s plan of redemption is on every page of Scripture—Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world in order to save sinners like me. This Gospel also allows me to take comfort in the fact that even though I have not gotten every single thing right, my covenant child’s salvation rests in God’s unfailing mercy and the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ. As a homemaker, my identity is neither found in how beautifully ornate nor how effectively organized my home is, rather it is in the promise of the Gospel, that our Redeemer will come again and make all things new. And He will bring His imperfect children, including stress-driven and sleep-deprived mothers, to glory, as they bask in his perfections for all eternity.
The late Elisabeth Elliot once said, “A mother is a chalice, the vessel without which no human being has ever been born. She is created to be a life-bearer, cooperating with her husband and with God in the making of a child. What a solemn responsibility. What an unspeakable privilege—a vessel divinely prepared for the Master’s use.” This is my calling. This is my mission. This is my ministry.O
This article was originally published in the July-September 2015 edition of the Biblical Seminary of the Philippines Alumni Association E-Journal. This article is republished in this blog with permission from the editor, along with a few changes.