5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
In the black of night, I rise. Those two tiny syllables that form my new name echo through the monitor, calling me to wake, to come, to comfort, "Mama, mama, mama."
I reach for my glasses before crawling out of bed. I need my eyes to go before my heart. I need vision clearer than the night brings if I will be content to serve in this seemingly invisible place.
If I'm not watchful, standing guard against the values of my kingdom, this place has the potential to bring to light something dark in my heart, something exposing of what my heart truly loves and treasures. Because even the shadows of night do nothing to relieve the heart of man of its desire to be seen.
Peace on earth and mercy mild
The entrance into motherhood enlightens our hearts with a new sense of awe and wonder, with moments too pure for words. Moments of rare and unspeakable joy, untainted peace, and sacrificial love willing to bear and endure all things for the flourishing of this little life entrusted to us.
And as holy and sustaining as those moments are, motherhood is also full of moments that require more of us than we ever thought possible. This new role and all of its responsibilities beg for our dignity. The diaper changer, the laundry folder, the dish washer, the boo-boo kisser, the middle-of-the-night comforter. The stage we've walked onto has no audience, no one to tell us “good job” when we want it most, no one to acknowledge how many times we’ve given up desires of our own, no one to watch as we lay down our lives day in and day out. And if we begin to look for our worth in this new role of mama, we can start to feel a little insecure, a little lonely, a little taken for granted, a little like a servant.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
I recall another dark night. One that makes all of this unseen faithfulness matter. The one where another babe cried in a starlit stable, the only witnesses ordinary animals and common shepherds. The Light that gives life to men flickering in a tiny corner of the world. That night, glory got low and unexpected. That night, God ushered in His Kingdom and established it by a baby, by a God born in the likeness of men, by a God who took on the very nature of a servant.
At last, our God shone a light on us who sat in darkness, a light that would pierce our souls with what it revealed. His Kingdom would not be what the world expects or values or chases. But like those rare moments in motherhood, the way of this King and His Kingdom – the way of decreasing so the King might increase, the way of losing our lives in Christ rather than living to find it in the eyes of men, the way of laying down our lives for the flourishing of others – illuminates life as it was meant to be.
Mild He lays His glory by
Through His unlikely entrance into the world, God revealed to us on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus Christ laid aside His glory to deliver us from the destruction of seeking our own. His life would unveil the mystery of giving up glory, of living in the honor the Father bestows. He lights up the darkness and leads us in a new way. "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted," Matthew 23:12.
While His ministry attracted thousands, His death, like His birth, attracted almost no one.
"He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
And no beauty that we should desire Him." Isaiah 53:2b
But here is where we must look. If we have any hope of peace or joy or contentment in our motherhood, our gaze has to shift from the desire to be seen and fixate on the humility of Christ. We must see Him whose life and death relieve us from practicing our righteousness before the eyes of man. Whose life and death relieve us from craving glory and reaping shame.
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Motherhood puts flesh on the gospel in a tangible and gritty way. Motherhood knows lowliness. God hard-wired moms to understand innately the necessity of putting others before self. But what we have the privilege of knowing more and more in this road of motherhood is the God who got low with us. Our God wrapped Himself in servant’s clothing to wash us clean and make us fit for His dwelling. He delights in abiding with us, beckoning us to live before His eyes alone. And in this humble way, we connect with the God who eternalizes otherwise insignificant moments with the glory of His presence.