Growing up in the church I was familiar with ministry nights. I also grew up experiencing the full gamut of Christian conferences and retreats. These events included extended times of prayer and worship accompanied by serene guitar strums and low lighting. Sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit felt as effortless as the melodies falling softly on my ears. These felt like special times when God would reveal himself to me in my stillness, and the Spirit would convict me of sin and help me set my sights on Christ.
These organized events can be refreshing and beneficial, but I’ve realized I should be seeking ministry from the Holy Spirit at all times. The Spirit’s ministry doesn’t have to be still, quiet, peaceful, and at a scheduled time. The Holy Spirit works in the mundane everyday moments of life — the nitty-gritty daily grind.
The Hard Things from God
The strongest and most real times of Spirit ministry have been in my role as a wife and mother. It’s easy to feel ministered to when soft guitar strums are playing, but harder when it feels like I’m a bunch of grapes being stomped in a wine vat. The stomping comes in the form of bitter thoughts towards my husband from a previous conflict, when my son disobeys for the fifth time in one day, and when my toddler won’t stop screaming for me to hold him. Yet, the pressure put on the grapes is turning them to sweet wine. Likewise, if I yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in these daily pressures I’ll progressively find myself producing good fruit.
The hard things in life are designed by God to push and pull me more into himself. The daily grind of being a wife and mom reveals how short I fall from God’s standard more than all organized Christian events I’ve attended. The Holy Spirit uses my husband and children to minister truth to me by showing me I am nothing like Christ, but the Spirit is my helper armed with power and grace. The sacrificial path of pain and denial leads to fuller experiential grace in my life, which I can then pass onto my husband and children.
Sympathetic High Priest
We have “a great high priest” who sympathizes with the weaknesses of a wife and mother like us, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:14–15). He is the one who bears the failures and weaknesses of his bride.
Jesus’s experience with the spectrum of sin and his infinite compassion makes him fully able to relate to the busy demands of wives and mothers. He knows what it’s like to be grapes breaking and squirting out sweet wine. He was molded and shaped on the path of obedience to his Father. His role as teacher and healer was difficult and taxing on his time and energy.
Primarily the breaking of Jesus was at the cross, but we overlook his daily breaking in his itinerate ministry work. Every day he broke himself through denial to meet the needs of others. All throughout the daily tasks before him that led to Calvary the Son operated out of his intimate and rest-filled relationship with the Father. Luke 5:15–16 says,
But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
In the Gospels we can see a pattern of Jesus getting away from the crowds and disciples who would be looking for him. Jesus wasn’t getting away to get some quality “me”-time, but was seeking his Father through prayer. Jesus in his humanity could grow tired like us, he would most likely be drained from his ministry work, and he knew Golgotha was before him. His true need for strength was found in intimacy with God. In the same way, we need to draw from the wellspring of God’s reserves of grace for us through prayer and the word. This is how we open ourselves up for the ministry of the Spirit to work in us. The Spirit uses our daily pressing trials to minister to us our need for grace, but also provides the grace through prayer, so we can endure to the end in his power. We must position ourselves to receive from the Spirit, just like Jesus did with God the Father.
The cross was the culmination of Jesus’s daily grind. In the end — when Jesus’s body was crushed on a tree — it poured forth the sweet wine of redemptive blood (Isaiah 53:5–10). Christ was crushed so that we would only be pressed. Spurgeon once said for the Christian, “Trials are the wine-press out of which shall come the wine of consolation.”
Pressed for Purpose
This is what life as wives and mothers is doing for us because trials are a place of real-life pressures where the Holy Spirit uses to make us more like Jesus in his earthly ministry. This is the work of the Spirit in our lives. We must not resist the getting pressed out of ourselves, because, like Christ, fuller joy comes when we humble ourselves and let the Spirit work in us.
If we stay inside the fleshy grape we won’t experience true freedom, joy, and grace. We also won’t be able to give of ourselves with joy, freedom, love, and grace. If we want the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in our lives, we must let him smash us through his ministry in the mundane. Then we — and our husbands and children — will delight in the fully produced wine.