Sacred Mess * Advent Devotional


Few things can humble a person like parenthood.

A new friend and I met at a pool with our kids a couple of years ago. My son and her oldest were two years old; her youngest was only a few months. The kids behaved like kids do. One had a potty accident, the older ones begged for snacks, the baby wanted to nurse and then didn’t and then did and then didn’t.

Putting sunscreen on them was like wrestling tiny crocodiles. Neither of us had slept much the night before. We both felt awkward in bathing suits because our bodies no longer felt completely like our own.

“I have a master’s degree,” my friend said at one point, near exasperation with the mundane tasks of motherhood.

“Me too,” I giggled. “Good thing, because this parenting thing is HARD.”

There’s humility that’s chosen and humility that’s thrust upon a person, and motherhood is both. Most of us knowingly sign up for the hormonal fluctuations and the changing body shape and the midnight nursing sessions. But as each phase comes, there are new challenges, new exhaustions, new opportunities for humility.

Before Jesus was born, Mary had a sense of what she was in for. She was unmarried. She was poor. She was young. This wouldn’t be easy.

And yet, when she sings of the goodness of God, it is not the difficulty she mentions but the blessing:

Luke 1:48 (NIV)

“For he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed.”

Because she is humble, she is blessed. Mary’s words foreshadow Jesus’ own when he will gather his followers on a mountaintop and remind them that the poor will be blessed, the persecuted will be happy, those who mourn will be comforted.

God notices the humble. Those who work behind the scenes. Those who strive for hours to get the kids dressed and fed and to church even when the spouse is uncooperative. Those who made it through labor pains and are covered in food stains and are so tired they can’t form a proper sentence anymore.

Mary is blessed beyond measure because she accepts God’s task with obedience and joy. Her task was monumental: birth and raise a son and then watch him die for the sins of the world.

The everyday tasks of parenthood we face are usually far less dramatic. Wipe another nose. Dry another tear. Bandage another knee. Wash another dish.

And yet in the humility of these tasks, we can honor God or begrudge him, commune with him or ignore him, thank him or complain to him.

In the humble tasks of your day today, how can you wait for God to show up?

He is mindful of you in those humble places. Look for him there.

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