“This job [of motherhood] has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
― Elisabeth Elliot
“Therefore it is an offering that I make to God”
We are continuing our discussion of this Elisabeth Elliott quote. Today we will take a look at motherhood as an offering to God.
When we think of an offering today we envision a felt-bottomed brass plate being passed from pew to pew in church. In the Old Testament, offerings of animals, food, fine linen and gold were frequently brought to the temple. So how is motherhood an offering to God?
First, what are we offering? What are we depositing in the collection plate? What exactly are we laying on the altar? We are offering our very lives.
Surrounded by innumerable distractions, diversions and temptations, we mothers must push aside many other things in order to focus on the task before us, the raising of our children and the caring for our husband and home. But diversions are hard to refuse and often we find ourselves over-committed to things elsewhere even though we have committed to stay home and take care of our families. Don’t misunderstand, study groups are valuable, hobbies are wonderful, morning coffee with friends is therapeutic. By all means, do them occasionally. However, too much time spent focusing on ourselves and our own pleasures turns us away from the task at hand. An offering of motherhood to the Lord is a relinquishment of the self for the Lord. Our offering is not in coin but in surrender; surrendering to God our time and talents, that could be used elsewhere, for the sake of our current privilege of motherhood. Which is our gift. Which is our job.
Second, why is motherhood an offering? Let’s look at a passage from the Old Testament. When the Israelites were building the Tabernacle under the direction of Moses, under the direction of God, people collected and created offerings according to their abilities because they understood the enormous spiritual significance of those contributions:
“Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.” Exodus 35:20-29, ESV
This passage states that the Israelites’ hearts were “stirred” to bring offerings because they saw the larger implications of their smaller contribution. It wasn’t just about donating some cloth; it was about creating a temple. It wasn’t just about giving some gold; it was about glorifying God.
Our offerings of dedication to our children aren’t just about our children, their about the church. As mothers, we sacrifice our body of sleep sometimes, food sometimes, or diverting pursuits sometimes for our family, but ultimately we sacrifice for the sake of building up the body of Christ. We are raising future generations for God. And we are raising those future generations to raise future generations. We are a small, yet invaluable, thread in the fabric of God’s plan, yet our meager offerings can have an enormous impact on generations to come and on eternity. Behind every Samuel, there’s a Hannah. Behind every John the Baptist there is an Elizabeth.
I love how Rachel Jankovic puts it in her June 16, 2011 Desiring God Ministries* article entitled “Motherhood As a Mission Field”. She states, “Think about the feeding of the five thousand when the disciples went out and rounded up the food that was available. It wasn’t much. Some loaves. Some fish. Think of some woman pulling her fish out and handing it to one of the disciples. That had to have felt like a small offering. But the important thing about those loaves and those fishes was not how big they were when they were given, it was about whose hands they were given into. In the hands of the Lord, that offering was sufficient. It was more than sufficient. There were leftovers. Given in faith, even a small offering becomes great.”