Oh no. Here it comes again.
My husband introduces himself and talks about his work. He politely introduces me. Then the question: “And do you work, too?”
My mumbled answer: “Stepped back from my career during this season … loving being a mom … thinking about some part-time opportunities.…”
“Oh, so you stay at home with the kids?”
And there it is. The implied “just.” Just! You’re just home with the kids.
I want to get in this person’s face. I want to give my speech (well-rehearsed in my own mind) about the beauty of motherhood. The eternal significance of my calling during this season. The gravity of this calling, which places me in the most strategic, daily position of shaping young minds and hearts to worship and love the Savior. And, by the way, I’m keeping small children alive each day!
But I don’t give the speech—of course. And the reality is, I don’t always believe my own speech. Or, at least, I don’t feel it. There’s another unsatisfying night of sleep. Another bout with flu. Another doctor visit. Another diaper. And the kitchen is dirty again. And … laundry. So. Much. Laundry.
Longing. We long for a sense of purpose. An eternally significant role to play. We wonder, “Do I have meaningful work in front of me?”
Some might say “no.” Sometimes you feel the “no.” But God says—definitively—“Yes!”
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
And so, here is a word for you from me (a mom of four young ones). When those longings come—longings for a role, a purpose, real work—here’s where you need to start: We are the work of the God of the universe.
Don’t miss this. An understanding of the significance of our work begins with an understanding of our significance as the work of Jesus Christ our Savior. “We are his workmanship.” That’s what the verse says. Created by the Almighty Father. Redeemed by the Glorious Son. Sustained by the Gracious Spirit. We are God’s work. Sister, Jesus bled and died—and rose!—to make you his masterpiece. God was up to this plan long before time began. However often you need to remind yourself of this beautiful reality, do it. You are God’s workmanship. Created, planned, loved, redeemed, forgiven, welcomed, accepted, cherished. The workmanship of the loving and gracious Father of all.
Then, only then, comes our work. And our work becomes wonderfully meaningful as we discover that our work is meant to reflect the master Worker.
God, our Savior, prepared these “good works” beforehand for us to walk in. This is huge. It means the good that is in front of you today, whatever it may be, was planned for you by the God who has made you his workmanship in Christ Jesus. The good that you know you must do today was planned for you by your Savior.
Now, notice with me, Ephesians 2:10 doesn’t say “big work.” Or “paid work.” Or “full-time work.” It says “good work.” Let me break this down:
The 5th dirty diaper for you to lovingly change, smiling back at the cooing baby face gazing up at you … is prepared beforehand for you by God.
The gospel-shaped discipline that you are forced to provide to your six-year-old, with the prayerfully formed right balance of toughness and grace … is prepared beforehand for you by God.
The load of your husband’s laundry that you are preparing to wash (and by the way, didn’t you ask him to stop wearing that one shirt that doesn’t fit him right?) … is prepared beforehand for you by God.
The part-time work that you juggle on the side to make a little extra money for your family (in all your spare time, with all your extra bandwidth) … is prepared beforehand for you by God.
The discipline of showing up on Sunday morning to church with the goal of encouraging someone else in the congregation … is prepared beforehand for you by God.
And dear sister, you get to tackle that (difficult, exhausting) work as one who has been declared to be, in Christ, the “workmanship” of God.
What is my role? What is my identity? I am, by the grace of Jesus, the workmanship of the eternal God. This is a God who, at the very first Christmas, came near to a broken world to make broken people his masterpieces.
What is my purpose? What is my work? I will, by the grace of Jesus, throw myself into the work in front of me, which has been prepared beforehand by my loving Lord. My work must be shaped by the beautiful, Christmas love of a Savior who had cosmically significant work before him, but who didn’t despise a smelly manger as his nursery.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
What is it that most often drives you toward feelings of insecurity, insignificance, or despair? How do you push back with God’s truth when those feelings come?
Why, as followers of Jesus, must we first remember who we are in Christ, before we seek to think rightly about what we do for Christ? What problems can we avoid when we do this?
Jeanne Nielson is wife to Jon, who serves as Senior Pastor of Spring Valley Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Roselle, IL. They have 4 daughters, ages 1 to 8, and love the fun and energy-filled season of life they’re in. When Jeanne isn’t busy doing “mom stuff,” she’s a trainer at OrangeTheory Fitness, involved in Women’s Bible study, and is working on her sanctification as she coaches her daughter’s traveling soccer team (!).