Jeff asked me to write up what I shared last week. For some of us, the image of God as Father is not helpful. During the week I was reminded of an alternative to seeing God as Father by the inspiring article below (from facebook). He made both man and woman in His image. I’m not advocating feminizing men or God. But God does have a motherly side to him that can supplement our image of God. Here’s the article, then I’ll explain further…
FaceBook Story post from Dayna Mager
This was from several weeks back, yes, I climbed in the crib in hopes to soothe my screaming, teething, blushed faced, and tear soaked little girl. My husband came home to this, and I am re-posting because this captures the essence of my heart, and my “why…” There I was in the heat of this exhausting, beautiful thing we call parenthood, and I remembered a promise I made to her.
One of the first times Matt and I left Luella, was to a worship concert. At that conference, a missionary shared his story, and it shook me to the core. A moment that would forever be burned in my fragile, hormone raging, new mommy heart that had already become 100xs more fragile after meeting her.
That missionary was in an orphanage in Uganda, and he has been in many before, but this one was different. He walked into a nursery with over 100 filled cribs with babes. He listened in amazement and wonder as the only sound he could hear was silence. A sound that is beyond rare in ANY nursery, let alone a nursery where over 100 new babes laid. He turned to his host and asked her why the nursery was silent. Then , her response to him is something I will never, ever forget. EVER. This was my “why” moment.
She looked at him and said, “After about a week of them being here, and crying out for countless hours, they eventually stop when they realize no one is coming for them…”
…They stop crying when they realize no one is coming for them. Not in 10 minutes, not in 4 hours, and maybe, perhaps, not ever…
I broke. I literally could have picked up pieces of my heart scattered about the auditorium floor. But instead, it stirred in me a longing, a hunger.. A promise in my spirit.
We came home, and that night as Luella rested her tiny little 10lb body against mine and we rocked, I made a promise to her. A promise that I would always come to her.
At 2:00am when pitiful desperate squeals come through a baby monitor, I will come to her.
Her first hurt, her first heartbreak, we will come to her. We will be there to hold her, to let her feel, to make decisions on her own, and we will be there. We will show her through our tears and frustrations at times, that it is okay to cry, and it’s ok to feel. That we will always be a safe place, and we will always come to her. #luellamaepressplay #magerspresspause
Mar 31, 2016 near Chelsea, MI · Public · in Mobile Uploads
For me, there are times when the image of God most helpful is Mother. As an adult, going through an overwhelming trial that literally left me trembling in fear, I was flipping through the scriptures (you know, the magic eight ball version of looking for an answer in scripture by flipping through the pages hoping to serendipitously land on just the right verse?) Well, God sometimes answers the cry of our hearts and I was struck with a passage in Isa:
66:2 “to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” That’s me! God, is that You?
66:5, “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word;” and as I read I was indeed trembling, and while quite afraid, I read on, hoping God was speaking to me, too. From there God opened up a few scriptures that only He could know I desperately needed, that offered the only image of Him who could comfort me (my father was a violent man), and He showed He was Mother as well as Father. Very often since, I have climbed into Mother’s arms. Here is what I found.
Isa 66:9 “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.” Properly, He is speaking here of Israel, of His people. But like God so often does, He seems to be speaking in several dimensions, His voice echoing across the varying needs of nations and people. He understands a mother’s travail and a mother’s desire to see her newborn child, count its fingers and toes, and cuddle this little creature in her arms.
Then vs10-12, “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.”
He chooses the perspective of comfort that ones loving mother provides. Still, clearly, He speaks of His people as mother here, that through her (The Wife, now, the Bride) the peoples of the earth would be nourished, be cared for, be sustained. But notice how in the next verse, He has become the mother:
vs 13 “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
Now, slipping in like a shimmer of truth gleaming from behind dark clouds, Mother is more than Israel, more than the church, Father is also Mother. And truly the prophet explodes with the joy of seeing this Nourisher (vs 14), “And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.” My trembling and fear left me. Peace, like a river…
Searching for more insights on this, I found Isaiah earlier showed us a glimpse of God as Mother, would we listen to His assurances, the tenderness with which He comforts. Israel felt, as we in these clay vessels sometimes do, that, “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.” God answers quickly in Isa 49:15, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Our God has the heart of a mother for us His children.
The heart of a mother seems to be moving when God speaks in Jeremiah 30:15-20
Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.
When I saw the picture of that mom asleep with her child in her arms in the crib, and read her story, I thought of this verse: Psalm 27:7, 10 Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me … When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. (Note: They say that on the battlefield, wounded and dying men cry out for their mothers, not their fathers.)
Years later, in 1997 (I just happily noticed I wrote the date next to the passage), I spent a weekend praying together with a close brother at a hotel. Again God reminded me in Psalm 131 of this intimate, Nourishing relationship He opens to us. In the warmth of His presence as we prayed together, we understood these verses differently, more deeply. I am certain here you understand that place, and this One:
Psalm 131:1-3 (NIV) A song of ascents. Of David.
My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.
(note: the NIV has it, “I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
We see this Mother’s heart in Jesus when He calls out Israel and laments over her in Mathew 23. He concludes, “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
God may be my Father but He has a Mother’s heart.