A wise man once said that there are two lifestyles: worldliness or godliness. That is, living by faith or living by sight. Living in fear of man or living in fear of God. When we live in fear of God, we live in his will by his power with an awareness of him.
Making decisions based on self rather than the good of the child is the antithesis of motherhood. We are to love, that is lay down our life, then we experience more of the sanctifying effects of motherhood.
We have to guard against our own drive for sleep compromising our parenting.
I love this quote by comedian Paul Reiser:
Paul Reiser certainly makes a point and gives us some perspective: Did we have kids just to have a quiet house and sound sleep? Umm, no, those things pretty much went away in the bargain! We have a much higher calling now than racking up hours of sleep and quietness; and I say, have a much higher return on our time than what we lose in sleep and quiet. Those things are being traded in for hours spent training and raising new, independent human beings, there by the hand of God as He used our bodies to bring them into the world. There, because He has entrusted them to us as stewards for Him, with the awesome high-calling of exchanging time for eternity as we raise human beings with eternal souls and and eternal destiny shaped in part by how we spend the time we have with them, and the values and experiences we impart to them.
Certainly as creatures we can’t deny our need for sleep. And there’s no question that sleep deprivation is a common challenge for parents. It’s a season. It will pass. But in the meantime we must guard against sleep-seeking encroaching on our decisions about how we are caring for our children. It can become a form of self affirmation. Let’s check our hearts to make sure we are trusting God to meet your needs as you lay down your life for the needs of your child. He promises His grace will be sufficient. Seek His grace, for He provides the strength to do all that He requires of us. Life, and the grace needed to live it, are handed down to us moment by moment by our God who determines the course of our life and is working out His plan for His glory, and how we may glorify Him in that particular moment.
To put it another way, we don’t worship at the altar of sleep, we worship at the altar of the living God. He gives strength to the weary. He knows our needs, and he knows as well the tasks he has laid before us. Go to him for grace and strength. Pour out your troubles and needs to him. You are after all a steward for him. You are clocked in for him. He is your master. You mother for Him. As it says in Exodus chapter 2 verse 9, “take this child and nurture him for me.” As Pharaoh’s daughter said this to Moses’ mother, so God is saying this to each mother. “Take this child and nurture this child for Me.”
Don’t just see yourself alone with a child, rather see God’s presence with you and make decisions based on what pleases him. Offer yourself up to him as a living sacrifice in every situation, as it says in Romans chapter 12 verses one and two. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Don’t make decisions based on the screaming demands of your flesh. Deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Jesus. Jesus said: “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” This is the basic tenet of Christianity. As a Christian, this is your motto for all of life. Then it must be your model for motherhood. There are children following in our footsteps.
We are being reproduced in our children in many ways, not only in eye color and hair color, but our very attitudes, actions and responses are being passed on. Let them be godly. Remember the warning of the millstone: Jesus said if anyone causes one of these little ones to sin, it is better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the heart of the sea. Our sin has repercussions for successive generations. Grace reigns and enables us to say no to sin. So when you are in that stretching circumstance, and tempted to make selfish decisions, basing actions on fleshly desires or self satisfaction, rather say “no” to the flesh and say “yes” to the cross. We belong to God, we are not our own.
I’ll tell you how to really get a victory over the temptation to complain: turn it instead into an opportunity for praise! That’s right – praise! Say to yourself: “I am not able to sleep right now because I have a new baby! Thank you Lord for this wonderful entrustment of a new human being to raise to know and serve You! After all, who am I that I should have such a grand entrustment??” Think these things…when you are tempted to complain: “I cannot go out”…”My baby is crying”…Then say, “Praise God he is breathing and healthy and alive! And he is feeding and growing! But, most of all, this being housebound and hearing nighttime fussing means…”I am a mother!”
Thoughts of self are anti-parent; as parents, we are called out of self-centeredness. This aspect of parenting is not only wonderfully sanctifying, it also matures us.
As mothers, we have many wonderful opportunities to live in what Paul calls “the most excellent way,” the way of love, agape love, self-sacrificing love. 1 Corinthians 12:31, “And now I will show you the most excellent way.”
Agape love, Christ’s love, is a self-sacrificial love. It is the basic life-calling of the Christian: “If you would come after Me,” that is, be a Christian, “you must deny yourself” first, then “take up his cross,” then “follow Me.” Jesus tells Peter this same thing in John 21:18 “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
You used to come and go and do what you wanted. Now you will deny yourself, go where I tell you to go, take pain and suffering for Me, and follow Me in life and death.
1 Corinthians 10:13 assures us that no temptation has come upon us except what is common to man. It also assures us that God is faithful – he is with us in the trial, and assures us that he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. We also know we have a very real enemy who contradicts God’s word. Be aware of the thoughts the enemy seeks to plant in your mind. God is faithful and he will strengthen you as you look to him.
Let us look to God to meet our needs as we lose ourselves to meet the needs of the children he has entrusted to us. May we take this charge seriously, for it will affect the outcome of these other human beings.
In this season of little sleep, be encouraged that you are redeeming the time in a greater way! Think of it this way: At the end of our lives, are we going to wish we had more sleep, or that we did more for God? I think it’s going to be the latter.