Panic! I was startled awake this morning with a disconcerting sense that my son was in danger. It was one of those thoughts that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Panic!
“Will he be okay? Should I do something to make certain he is safe? Take a deep breath. Calm down. Oh, wait! We are all safe in our beds; it’s still dark out. It was just a dream. But what if it were real? My son might get hurt if I don’t keep him safe. Stop! Try to rest. Sleep.”
“No use trying to fall asleep now. I might as well get my day started. Better shower before the kids wake up. So much to do today: homeschool my youngest two kids, meet my husband at his staff lunch, take my daughter to her college class, make a Wal-Mart run, tidy up the house for community group, help one of my other sons with his high school homework, and pay a few bills. Oh yeah, and I want to touch base with our new neighbor to see about going for a run later in the week. Oh, I’m also behind on texts and emails.”
Before I can even finish my shower, I’m already feeling empty, inadequate and drained. I want to serve my family well and minister well to the women in my church body. I want to run a good race, and be a light to our community. But too many mornings start the way this one did – with a sense of panic and an overwhelming awareness that I can’t possibly do it all. Then I end up slogging through the day just trying to keep my head above water.
The mission directive is clear: glorify God. Accomplishing that mission in the trenches of day-to-day living is muddy. Am I really worshipping God with my life? Or am I worshipping the Christian mission, the “to do” list? Has my task list grown more important than the condition of my heart?
I’m guessing that many Christian moms can relate to these questions. And as a pastor’s wife the “mission” can feel pretty overwhelming. We know we should have regular quiet times. We know we should train our children to love the Lord their God. We know we should look for gospel opportunities with coworkers, neighbors, church members, and family members. But instead, the business of living distracts us, drains us, discourages us.
I truly believe the enemy takes advantage of us in this state of vulnerability. It’s easy to believe the lie that if we just work harder or faster, we can accomplish more. Or the lie that our actions and accomplishments, the things we strike off our “to do” list, are an accurate measurement that our hearts are in a good place. In other words, it’s easy to lose sight of our true mission.
To regain our focus, we need to bring our fears and uncertainties (and our busy schedules) to God. We need to ask, “Who do you call me to be, Lord? What do you want my character to look like? How can I remain on your mission and still complete the tasks at hand?”
I turn to Titus 2 for my spiritual re-alignment. It reads: “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:1-5
Ah, clarity. Our God is so gracious to give us direction and a roadmap. In this passage, we see how important sound doctrine is. This is where living out our mission begins. In the Word, we find all we need to make wise decisions. We learn to combat the lies that produce fear, with the truth that produces freedom! We uncover the idols we’ve been worshipping – the idols of “control” and “self-sufficiency.” We are led to repentance as the Spirit reveals sin. And we find a picture of what it looks like to live on mission: to live a life that glorifies God.
The Apostle Paul describes a woman on mission. A woman on mission is reverent, in awe of her God. Her prayer? “Help me to remember who you are and not fear. To make much of you, Lord, not much of me.”
A woman on mission uses her words to give life, not tear people down. Her prayer? “Help me to practice patience, grace and forgiveness, Lord, just as you have granted them to me.”
A woman on mission is not a slave to her desires, but rather practices self-control. Her prayer? “Lord, give me the fruit of your Spirit that is; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
A woman on mission teaches and trains others to be on mission with her, to live lives marked by love, selfless service, and purity. Her prayer? “Lord, I’m so dependent on you, and you are so faithful to provide just what I need every day.”
A woman on mission lives in submission to her husband. Her prayer? “Help me to put away my pride and trust you, Lord. Help me to show kindness to my husband while, accepting his leadership without grumbling, loving him and putting his needs before my own.”
A woman on mission lives a life that brings honor and glory to God, a life in accord with sound doctrine so that the Word of God will not be criticized, attacked, denounced. Her prayer? «Lord, bring your Word to mind so that your truth is what I dwell on. So that your truth is the light I hold out in this sin-darkened world.»
At the end of another day – a day that began with fear and discouragement – I am reminded that I am a woman on mission by God’s grace, through his power and for his glory. So I pray, “My mission today, Lord, is much more clear. It is to know you better today than I did yesterday. It is to follow you closer today than yesterday and to bring my children and my friends along with me in the journey. When I take my eyes off you, my relationships get so messy. Then I need to practice repentance. Your grace is made evident by your gospel sanctifying my heart. My soul is at rest as your peace that surpasses all understanding washes over me.”
Today, with the truth re-aligning my heart, I will remember who God is. I will worship the One who gave me his mission. I won’t be driven or controlled by guilt or fear because my trust is in him and what he has already done for me!