Borrowed Pots

When you step out in faith, you will be rewarded.

It’s Mother’s Day, and I, like every other mom, was blessed with some flowers and gifts, and lots of hugs and love to commemorate my having done…well, nothing all that extraordinary, really. Naturally, in receiving these gifts, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I’ve been blessed with the children themselves. They are the gift. The flowers are going to fade, and I’ll probably lose or break the gifts eventually. But the souls I’ve been blessed to nurture are forever. To God be the glory!

On Mother’s Day, especially, people are extremely complimentary about my largish family. Of course they are! They’re kinda forced to be, aren’t they? I get to hear all day what good kids these are; what a blessing to be able to have so many; how happy I must be; how busy I must be; how patient. (Lord, have mercy. Ask my kids about that sometime.)

It is both pleasant and difficult to receive the compliments and comments about my offspring, whether on Mother’s Day, or any other day. It is pleasant because I agree fully: I am extremely blessed! You won’t find a happier mother than me anywhere! It is difficult because I want to give God all the glory, and not take it for myself. I might be tempted to think I’d really done something here, when in fact God gives the life and the increase. I’m just along for the ride.

There’s another reason it’s difficult, though, and it is because the assumptions behind some of the compliments are quite distressing to me. The assumption is often that I had all of these children because I’m just some kind of mothering machine, better and more suited to that task than most women. That “just Mommy” is all I ever wanted to be. (OK, that one is true and I love it.) Or that I am some kind of idiot who just couldn’t figure out how to shut the machinery down. Sadly, Christians make these assumptions nearly as often as everybody else.

Now, not everyone makes these assumptions, and I want to take care that readers understand that nobody in my own church seemed to be saying these things to me today. I’m speaking of the wider culture now, my past experiences, but nobody in particular today.

In our Sunday School lesson this morning, we were talking about Elisha and the widow whose husband had left her in a great deal of debt. From 2 Kings 4:1-7:

 

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”

I wonder, when the widow went to borrow pots to store something that she clearly did not have, did her neighbors think she was crazy? Did she feel silly asking for empty pots that she knew she didn’t have the wherewithal to fill for herself? She only had a little oil left in the house, and no prospect of getting any more. What could she possibly do with all those pots? Did she tell her neighbors that she expected God to fill them? Did she even know herself what the prophet planned to do?

All I know for sure is that she did as she was told, and her faith in so doing was rewarded.

Now, what in the world does that have to do with Mother’s Day and having a bunch of kids? Much! First of all, it shows that the sons left to the mother were a blessing to her in the absence of her husband. Provided that the creditor didn’t take them from her to pay her husband’s debts, they would be a blessing to her for the rest of her life. Children, even in extreme poverty, are a blessing in and of themselves!

But, more importantly to my point today, it shows what value there is in being blindly obedient. Even when we can’t see for ourselves, and our neighbors certainly can’t see, what God is planning to do, we must take the action we’ve been told to take.

I could so easily have missed out on my eight greatest blessings if I had thought of children the way everyone else does: As expenses. As time-sucks. As troubles and trials. As part of a lifestyle that requires a special kind of person to maintain. All I had to do was be “wise” and “responsible”, and I would be short some number of wonderful people in my life.

I’m sure I looked crazy to my friends and relatives as I birthed eight children (let’s call them my little pots now) in the space of thirteen years. I’m sure they had no idea what I could possibly do with all those empty pots, seeing that I myself have just one small vessel, and barely enough oil (energy, money, time, patience) to take care of even myself. I’m sure they thought we were innumerate, irresponsible, and just plain incompetent to make our own decisions as we kept adding children every 18-20 months.

And I am very sure that I had no idea what God was going to do with those little pots. But I was told to gather them (“be fruitful and multiply”), and so I did.

And I have seen with my own eyes over these years the miracle that is promised to those who believe and obey. After collecting these eight pots, closing the doors, and sitting down and endlessly pouring oil from my own vessel–much more oil than my vessel can even hold!–into those little pots that He gave me, I can say with confidence that there is reward for faith. I’m still pouring, and the oil has never run out yet!

Every pot that I borrowed is perpetually being filled. I borrowed as many pots as I could. Some will be able to borrow more, some less. But all must exercise faith by gathering the pots. And of course, I say “I” because the widow’s story is a story about a mother, and it’s Mother’s Day, so it just flows better to speak as if I were the mother in the story. But my husband also has his little vessel, and equal faith to pour his oil out. We’ll do his part of the story on Father’s Day, ok?  I have not done all this without him!

Now, I’m no Elisha, but I feel the need to prophesy to the young couples:

Borrow as many pots as you can, right away. 

Three times this week, I’ve heard young couples say that they were worried about being able to afford children, or being able to afford them right now. These couples are Christians. As readers well know by now, I am ever amazed that believers think that what they can afford has anything at all to do with what God wants for them.

The widow did not wait to go and ask her neighbors for their pots. She didn’t worry about the timing, or what people would think, or even what Elisha wanted pots for. The widow was not slow to act when she was told to gather the pots. And she was not sorry she’d asked for so many once she saw what was to be done with them.

Close the door on the World.

The World, and (God forgive us!) even the Church, have told these young people to be responsible. Make some money first. Make sure you have your degree and a good job first. Make sure you have life experience first. Above all, make sure you have some fun first! The World is sure to be whispering about what you’re up to behind those closed doors, but you will have excluded them from the conversation. This is between your family and God.

Close the door to all this worldly thinking. Close the door to worry and doubt about your own abilities. You are not able! It’s true! You do not possess the oil–the love, the experience, the wisdom, the patience, or the holiness–that you will need to be parents. You will never have those things if you don’t first gather the pots to put them in.

Just keep pouring.

As a parent, you will inevitably be called upon to give to your children many things that you do not have. But God in his generosity will give you all of the holiness, the patience, the faith, and the wisdom you need if you will just trust Him to do so. And if He will give you those things, do you think He won’t take care of the easy stuff? The food and the clothing and the doctor bills? The money, the energy, and the time? That stuff is easy for God. Just tip your one small vessel over and see how freely all of the oil you require pours out!

God does not say any of the things that the World says about children. Do not listen to those who say to you that you are responsible for filling up your pots. You, future mothers and fathers, are responsible only for first receiving the pots, then closing your doors to the World, which can’t understand what you are doing at all, and just pouring.

I put together an ebook from several blog posts I wrote over the years on this topic. It’s a little bit old now, and written by somebody who obviously wasn’t as far down the motherhood road as I am now. But it’s still good, and I wouldn’t change very much at all, except to be even more sure of myself and my Jesus. He is faithful. Taste and see!

Click on the cover to read it, spread it around if you find it useful: