Tuesday, November 11, 2014

gospel mama, part 4: empty love



The golden morning sun seeped in through the slits in the blinds and baby birds squeaked outside in the branches of our live oak trees.


“Mama!” a little voice whispered earnestly beside me in bed. Two boys were cozied up under the blankets, waiting for me to wake up.


We aren’t cosleepers, but some mornings we are co-wakers. There is no more precious moment in my day than this one.


My babies now walk around in their long, lanky bodies and read chapter books with their great big, developed minds. Growing up and away a little more with each year, there are moments I grieve the loss of chubby toddler cheeks pressed up against my own.


Motherhood fills you up and then empties you out in more ways than one.





How the filling and the emptying happens is a mystery. One day your swollen abdomen is full of life, and the next your womb hollows out but your heart is still so full it could burst.


You carry the emptiness every day, though.


Every baby belly laugh, the cock-eyed wink of your toddler’s eye, all the gaping grins over birthday candles, each flubbed ballet recital reminds you that a vacancy sign hangs over your life. Like an echo through the quiet rooms that once housed the little people you adore, the emptiness holds melancholy joy. The good days slip through your hands faster than you would like.


There are the other kinds of empty days, though, too. Ones that start with a frantic hunt for that singular lost shoe, screaming babies being tortured by emerging teeth, or sick mamas dragging themselves around the house in search of a precious lost toy. The grinding begins at dawn, there is no rest for weary bones, and the demands of a family are monumental when there is no reserve of energy left inside. These children have emptied you out, and still they demand more.


Mamas live in a continuous state of emptying. It would be too sad to bear except for the way living out sacrificial draws us so close to God.


It takes faith to live a full life when you find you are empty. The gospel sings out to us in the vacancy of soul, though, and there is a great blessing for those who choose to follow Christ into the emptiness.





In Luke 9 there was a man who wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus warned him that the path would not be easy:


“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” -Luke 9:58


Christ leads us into fullness through the path of empty.


We are empty like Christ, perhaps, who was so humble He, "emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant"? (Phillipians 2) Empty like a tomb, whose stone has been rolled away to reveal that what was dead has been given new life and has risen up to the Father? Empty like the many jars of the widow in 2 Kings 4, that were filled miraculously from only one jar of oil?


Yes, let’s live empty like that.


Motherhood can make us funnels for God’s love. Funnels are meant to be empty. It is their express purpose and design to remain empty, ready to direct what is poured out in great volume into smaller vessels. To be effective funnels we must empty out all the fear and faithlessness that could block the flow. Self-centeredness, vanity, impatience, self-pity, criticism, and hopelessness must be left behind on this path of following Christ.


The greatest miracle of it all is that our empty lives become a dwelling place for God’s presence. God finds a place to rest His head when His children live in obedience to His greatest commandment to love God first and others more than ourselves.





We offer a Him one singular devoted life, and He multiplies it in the lives of our children. This motherhood gig isn’t just an act of biology. This is a ministry. This is God’s call to lay our lives down for one another, to feed His lambs, to care for His sheep.


Who knows the impact our mama love will have on the world? With a meager offering of loaves and fish, Jesus fed thousands in Mark 6:


“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.” Mark 6:41-43


Jesus took what people could offer and He gave thanks for it. He does the same today with what we are able to bring Him. God rests here with us, giving thanks for our empty lives, and He pours out His presence into our homes.

All because love makes space for the gospel, the gospel makes space for more love, and we never find the end of Gods fullness when we live His way.

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