I was kneeling on the carpet, beside his crib in the dark, reaching my arm through the crib bars and softly rubbing his little back, singing “Jesus Loves Me,” trying to soothe him from crying, when suddenly, there on my knees:
I had a flashback.
It must have been my posture.
The kneeling, the singing, the way I leaned against my hands–but it came hard, and strong, and when it came, I got a lump in my throat, and I couldn’t sing anymore.
This was the flashback…
I was 17 years old.
My knees sank into the cold concrete floor, as I knelt at our church camp altar, which was just a long wooden board wrapped in musty, orange 70’s carpet.
But it didn’t matter.
I had come trembling that night. Because…
God was calling me.
Calling me to give my whole life. My whole heart. And not just part of it. To Him.
So, I came forward, to the altar. I came and knelt and wept into my hands, while my perfectly straightened brown hair spread all around me, while my mascara ran down my cheeks.
But somehow, I didn’t care. I didn’t care anymore…about the boy I liked. Or what my friends thought of me.
I just knew I had to go.
Because God was there.
And He was asking me, to come to Him…
And there in that old warehouse building, that barely qualified as a camp, I gave Him my whole life. And my whole heart.
I remember how the guitar played, and the speaker’s deep voice beckoned in the microphone:
“Some of you, God is calling into full-time ministry tonight,” he said.
And my heart burned. Because I knew, that was me.
“Yes, Lord,” I prayed. “I am willing, I will go, send me. I surrender it all to You. Take me anywhere, I’ll do anything. My life is Yours.”
I remember the barn-like doors of the building swinging open in the wind, and looking out at the dark night. The dark world was out there. But in here, was a soft glow. A light I had to share–out there.
And my heart felt wild and free, staring out into this mystery. This great big world. And I wondered where He might take me, and what He might have planned.
My mind swirled with all the possibilities…of what “full-time ministry” would entail. Maybe I’d be working with a large youth group at a big church, and leading teenagers to Christ, or be a missionary in a bullet-ridden landscape, or be speaking in front of large groups of people, maybe I’d be planning spiritual retreats for people to meet with God. Maybe I would travel the world and have all sorts of adventures?
What would a life of full-time ministry look like?
There were so many exotic images in my head.
But out of all them, one thing I did not imagine was…
I did not, in all my wildest dreams… imagine this:
Kneeling next to a crib and singing “Jesus Loves Me” in the dark.
Reaching my arm through crib bars and rubbing the back of a two-year-old boy–my own two-year-old boy. Night after night.
I just didn’t know then…
I say this with tears, I just didn’t know then, that what He was calling me to, was in fact this.
It wasn’t a place.
It wasn’t a position.
It was a posture.
It was a kneeling, surrendered posture.
It was a kneeling, surrendered heart.
That’s all He ever required of me.
He did not call me to be a Christian celebrity.
He did not call me to different countries.
Or, even to different stages.
He called me simply to be a mom.
It’s not that all my exotic ministry dreams were bad, it’s just that they were narrow. So very narrow, and small.
I didn’t know the depth, or the breadth of the other, hidden, unseen-by-the-world kinds of ministry.
Make no mistake, God did call me into full-time ministry.
The ministry of being a mom.
(Which didn’t come easy. You can read our infertility story here.)
The Full-Time Ministry of Being a Mom
Being a mom is full-time ministry. (And I know for a fact, that someone is rolling their eyes right now. Because I would have rolled my eyes at this, too. Before I was one.)
But now I know, being a mom is full-time ministry.
No one will tell you this, though.
I actually remember my college professor telling our class of youth ministry majors that “full-time Christian ministry” means that you get paid to do full-time “Christian” work, unlike a “lay person” who just “volunteers” in their spare time.
(But I don’t believe that anymore.)
In college, I actually dreaded becoming a mom because I thought it meant the end of all ministry opportunities.
I didn’t know it actually meant: the beginning.
The beginning of my full-time ministry.
But on a snowy, January night, when they laid my daughter’s slippery little body on my chest, and I breathed in her scent, and kissed her wet head for the first time…
a ministry was also laid on my chest.
It was her.
I remember feeling the weight of her on my chest, feeling the living, breathing treasure she was. Touching her for the first time, was like touching something from another world.
Never had I held something so precious.
The night she was born, was the night my ministry was born.
It was as if God whispered, “Okay, here she is…”
“Here is the full-time ministry I promised you.”
And it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would.
I don’t have a huge ministry, or thousands of followers–I have two followers. Their names are Selah and Jesse. And by God’s grace, I’m pregnant with a third as I write this. Their little eyes watch me constantly, their little feet, quite literally follow me everywhere. Even into the bathroom and shower. And their little hearts, are always watching mine, listening, for my voice, my attitude, for better, or for worse. Their hands, reach for mine, their faces search for mine–wanting my eyes on them. “Watch Mommy,” they say again and again, until I look up.
Always wanting my attention, wanting my love.
I’m not reaching the lost, or the far away people groups, but I am reaching my arm through the bars of a crib, and rubbing his back when he cries. I’m climbing up to her top bunk and laying with her in the dark. Whispering stories. And praying away her monsters and ghosts.
My ministry doesn’t happen on a stage. It happens here at home. And no one sees it. But God. It happens in unseen places, like the kitchen, and living room, and in messy bedrooms, and amid mountains of laundry.
It happesn while we drive, and sit around the table. But it happens mostly, when I’m least expecting it at all, in those moments when the Holy Spirit moves in their little hearts, and mine.
I don’t wash feet, but I wash whole bodies, and syrupy hair, and loads of dishes. And clothes. And I get to do this, because He called me to do this. And when I run out of energy and ambition, which is pretty much every day, He gives me more grace. And I’ve never needed Him more, than right now.
My face isn’t on any billboards, or book covers, but it’s the face they love to see every day, smiling on them with kindness, looking into their eyes, and laughing at their jokes. (Even when it’s not that funny, and it’s the same joke they tell every day.)
My voice isn’t on the radio, or TV, or podcasts, but they don’t care, it’s the one that soothes them every night. And sings them lullabies. And tells them stories. That aren’t really that good–but they act like they are, and beg for more.
My body isn’t toned or tanned, like it once was, but my arms still wrap around to hold them. I’m soft enough, to love them. I’m there enough, to hold them, and at the end of the day, that’s all they really want.
I don’t get paid. Not a penny. And yet, I am wealthy. I hold great treasure, that the world cannot know. I have something more precious than can be bought, or earned, or achieved.
I have them.
I have my husband.
And most of all, I have Christ.
Who can argue His worth?
And on nights like this, I feel His hand upon me.
And on nights like this, I kneel in the dark and cry.
Because I feel Him near.
And I wonder, how many other moms were “called” into ministry–like I was?
I wonder how many other moms think their “ministry” is on hold because of these babies?
I wonder how many other moms think that becoming a mom somehow made them “step-away” from ministry…
they were just stepping into it.
If that’s you, I just want you to know:
You aren’t missing it.
You are exactly where you are supposed to be.
This is where He was calling you.
This is what He has been preparing you for all along.
It was never a place.
It was never a position.
It was always a posture.
Just a kneeling, surrendered posture. Just a kneeling, surrendered heart.
And that one follower you have. Or those two, or three, or more…
may just change the world.
It may just look different than you thought. In fact, it most definately will.
Because full-time ministry doesn’t need a stage. Or a microphone.
It doesn’t need a passport. Or a huge following.
It just needs you.
Offering all of your heart.
Welcome to motherhood.
Welcome to full-time ministry.