BCC Staff Note: You’re reading the first of a week-long BCC Grace & Truth blog series on mothers and Mother’s Day.
The Heart of God
The preacher’s words stir me to attention. “I want to talk to you today about the heart of God.”
A limited man, yet a man empowered by God’s Spirit, used his tongue, which I dare say came close to what may be described as “the tongues of angels,” to speak about the heart of God for His people. How do mere words do justice to a topic so immense and otherworldly? The Spirit gave words accompanied by power. Forty minutes pass and I am almost speechless. My sandals need to come off my feet. My face should find the floor.
“Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:20).
From this text, the preacher spoke eloquently about the Father’s feelings toward his messy children. He yearns for His children whom He deeply loves. Though He must speak against them as their sins have deserved, He covenantally remembers them, gives them mercy, and yearns for them, his dear sons, his darling children. The terms of endearment are “almost embarrassing, making one blush,” says the preacher. As a mother, I can resonate with the endearing terms as I consider my own yearning heart toward my children.
Yearning: deep longing, especially when accompanied by tenderness. This is what dictionary.com tells us and what motherhood is surely accompanied with.
Motherhood, Yearning, and Ascending Praise
Women were created with a special bent toward nurture, love, and care. Motherhood can be one of the most profound “scratch” to a women’s yearning “itch” to nurture. We see this yearning for motherhood from the earliest of ages as little girls mimic the love and care of mothers with their own baby dolls. However, this yearning is not necessarily satisfied in full when one actually becomes a mother. It grows deeper as it takes on new forms.
As a mother of four, I know from experience the fervent emotions of fierce, yet tender love that can almost feel as intense as pain when I look into the faces of my children. I know how easy the decision would be to give my life in exchange for theirs. The yearnings of motherhood are now tied to desires to protect and provide for them. Edwin Chaplin has said of a mother’s love, “No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love.” I grasp for fig leaves upon reading these words because I know my love as a mother, mingled with my brokenness, has failed a thousand times. Yet still, despite the failings, I wonder at the grace of God that would plant the gift of profound, yearning love deep into a mother’s heart.
Each May, we rightfully appreciate and give honor for the love and labor of mothers. If many moms could be honest, they may admit that Mother’s Day can be quite a challenge. Our yearnings, or deep longings, take an entirely different form on this day. Many moms spend the day fighting back the ugliness of their prideful hearts as they begin to believe the press they are reading in the Hallmark cards they receive. Or, the other unassuming, yet tenacious side of pride may rear its ugly head in the form of disappointment from unsatisfied longings to be made much of. Yes, this can become a day when expectations rise a little higher, comparisons come a little easier, quiet disappointments loom a bit larger, followed by a possible afterglow of guilt and shame. Happy Mother’s Day? Unfortunately, because of this reality, it isn’t always a happy day for many.
How can this year be different? Is there a way to take these unfortunate yearnings for self glory captive and replace them with rightful worship? Can the praise and esteem that we receive and give on Mother’s Day ascend higher “along the beam” to the praise and worship of God, our Father? Here is where that sermon on the heart of God from Jeremiah 31:20 comes in…
Unique Reflections of God’s Amazing Love
Mothers are made in God’s image and so reflect a unique aspect of His character. On Mother’s Day, we celebrate their love and sacrifice. Yet, the tenacity, grit, and beauty that we experience and appreciate in a mother’s love is but a faint echo, a soft ripple on the water’s surface, of a deeper love that burns in the heart of God (as described in Jeremiah 31:20). His matchless love is exponentially stronger than any mother’s impassioned love for God is love (1 John 4:8).
Let’s consider how He chose to put His divine love on display, to be enjoyed and gloried in. It’s not as neat and tidy as one would expect. Everything seems turned on its head. It’s counterintuitive to our notions of love for it involves death, curses, and an unfair substitution.
Because of the unfathomable love and compassion God has for sinners destined to become dearly loved children, the Father and His Son, Jesus, agree to the terns of this costly love. The Son would willingly pay with His own life the debt for sin incurred by us, the sinners. This dearly loved Son would receive the full measure of the Father’s rejection, hatred toward sin, and curses that our sins deserved so that we could experience His Father’s full measure of acceptance, love, and blessings that we could never earn.
Only because the Father turned His face away in utter rejection from Jesus can His Father now cup our faces in His tender hands and whisper “darling child” into our ears. Only because His dear Son took our punishment can we be deeply loved by our Heavenly Father who now longs for us, yearns for us, covenantally remembers us and gives us mercy (Jeremiah 31:20). Only by His death can we now live in the abundant joy and rest that comes upon believing we are fully known, yet completely loved by our Father (1 John 3:1).
As we reflect on the beautiful love of motherhood, or feel the pull of fleshly yearnings for glory on Mother’s Day, let us bend our hearts toward God. Let us be grateful for our mothers, yet in awe of our God for His gloriously fierce, shockingly sacrificial love best seen and realized in the gospel. Only the inherent power of this glorious love can replace our yearnings for glory with a yearning for Him to receive all glory. Ascending praise and worship of our Father can give us a genuinely glorious Mother’s Day as we aim to satisfy and calm our restless hearts in His boundless love.
Join the Conversation
How can Mother’s Day be a day to exalt our heavenly Father?