A few months ago I had one of those days that stays with you for years. It was awful: The three youngest of my children were crying and having a melt-down all at the same time. The one year old was teething and cranky and when I tried to put him down he let out a blood-curdling scream. The five year old woke up from a nap in a bad way and started crying and screaming. The eight year old broke out into tears over math (which this child actually happens to be good at).
So when this sort of thing happens, (as it does to mothers of all ages and in different seasons of life) what do I do? What do I grab hold of? Where do I get strength and courage? Because honestly, at times like these I need boatloads of strength because I’m standing there ready to cry myself. During these times, they need help and I need help. They need love and I need love. They need rescuing and I need rescuing. So where do I turn and what will rescue me and help me help my children?
At times like these, I have not—and will not—find strength, endurance, or a tender heart from a romanticized vision of children (I’ve tried that one), sappy sentimental stories, or pithy sayings. I have lived this, and every one of these illusory tricks we use to bootstrap ourselves up fails us in the deepest and most important ways: Because there is no power in these things. Nothing could have given me the wherewithal to be a gentle and loving mother in the midst of three crying children but the power and the presence of Jesus Christ. Nothing.
My deepest need as a woman, and as a mother, is the grace of God in Jesus Christ. No parenting book or metaphor-laden blog post will ever be able to meet that need. They may give practical advice and there is a time and a season for that. However, there is no life in those things. Jesus said he is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
So how exactly does the admonition to “cling to Christ” differ from secular self-help notions? Well, to someone who doesn’t know Christ it might as well be another impotent saying. What are you clinging to? Some abstract concept? Some historical figure whose biography you sort of have outlined in your head? That guy we sing about every Sunday? Or, is he a real living person with whom you have a relationship? How do you live in that relationship? You need to speak and hear him speak. You need to devote real time and effort to the relationship, not as a new “law,” but because he told us,
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
Know Jesus. Befriend him and no longer be mere servants. Know your friend’s business. His business is rescuing you.