When Does Mommy Get to Rest?

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The words barely roll off my tongue as I bend down to hear my three-year-old son whisper in my ear, “Mama, I want a snack.”

My hands feel around diapers, wipes, and extra clothing items in my bag and then grab onto a small packet of crackers. I tear open the packet and hand it to my son as I resume singing.

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

I glance down to see my son huddled over his blue sneakers, tugging at the yellow laces that have come untied. As I continue to sing one of my favorite hymns, I plop my son down on a chair to retie his shoes.

This is a typical Sunday morning service for young moms — worship as a mother. We sing praise with our mouths to God, while worshiping by tearing open cracker packets and tying loose laces. It’s Sunday, a Sabbath day for many, a day to rest, take it easy, be refreshed, and prepare for another week of schedules, appointments, and work. And yet my hands are busy at work all day. How can I enjoy rest when caring and nurturing is a round-the-clock job?

Weary and Grumbling

Like the lines from the hymn above, motherhood can feel like an endless wandering through seemingly meaningless activities. I’m prone to wander through the wilderness of dirty diapers, bite-sized table food, potty-training, and disrupted sleep. I can relate to the Israelites wandering in their literal wilderness. How long until I can enter the Promised Land of freedom and rest? Will it be the boring chores of manna and quail forever? Can I get to that permanent place of milk-and-honey alone time?

The Israelites didn’t enjoy their testing in the wilderness. They grumbled and complained. They even voiced that returning to slavery in Egypt was better than the lot God had given them. Their pride and self-sufficiency led them to distrust God — distrust so deep at one point, that in an effort to control their situation, they built a golden calf to worship.

The Israelites were unable to enter God’s rest because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:16–19). They didn’t believe God was enough for them, because they were far too easily satisfied with smaller things. In much the same way, are we, as moms, too easily satisfied with trudging along in our wilderness in our own strength? Pride and self-sufficiency in our mothering can make us prone to wander — “to leave the God we love” in our hearts and minds.

The author of Hebrews goes on to say,

While the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. (Hebrews 4:1–2)

Rest for Today

The rest offered to the Israelites was not just found in the literal place of the Promised Land in Canaan, but an eternal Promised Land that would be embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. He came to fulfill the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Christ came to do the hard work to secure God’s favor; now he commands us to rest in his finished work for us. In the midst of unfinished tasks, we can have confidence that we already own our true Sabbath rest. In Christ, busy moms live in the rest of Christ. Rest is no longer a day; rest is a person (Matthew 11:28).

Christ is more than enough to help us meet the demands of the day. God gives grace to the humble mom who stops striving in her own strength.

Where our strength ends, faith begins. The good news in Hebrews meets us in the broken and weak places of motherhood. When our hearts wander in the mundane of routine, we must remember our hearts are sealed in Christ. He came to bring rest to the weary mom, because his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

The promise of entering his rest still stands today — everyday — in the life of busy mothering. We must put off our unbelief, return to God’s help and strength, and rest secure in the arms of our Savior.

Rest for Eternity

Mothering remains a challenge. Moms with young kids are always on-call. Who knows what the next seven days will entail? But in whatever needs are to arise, moms live in an everyday promise we have in Christ. One day we shall see him face to face and enter into eternal rest with him.

We can sing about eternity on a Sunday morning while serving our children, because we already enjoy, in seed form, the sweetest rest of Christ now, and because we look with joy to a coming day when rest in Christ will be fully realized in our lives. Motherhood exposes us, our self-sufficiency, and our own needs, and pushes us closer to enjoying the everyday rest we have in Christ.

But it is a sweet thing to now spoon-feed our babies, change wet sheets on our toddler’s bed at midnight, and to brush little teeth, all while singing,

Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.