I woke up a couple of Sundays ago to the ear piercing screams of a fully blown tantrum outside my bedroom door. I used to wake to an alarm clock, never pleasant, but necessary. Generally my mornings are slow and the children relatively content, but this particular Sunday morning was not to be so. A small Goldby was complaining loudly about our lack of yoghurt. I kid you not, but natural yoghurt was the cause of this cacophony. Our small child was devastated that their choice of breakfast was compromised by our lack of shopping. There were multiple other suggestions made, in an attempt to pacify the wailing, but all in vain, it seemed that yoghurt was the only solution. Whilst this particular scene was playing out another smallish Goldby entered stage left and with equally loud siren-like wails and declared that they had been bitten by a slightly older sibling. Seriously, this was not a good, or common start to the day. Comfort was provided and the perpetrator of the bite questioned over their motives for this unusual behaviour. I was just beginning to recover from this early morning assault on my senses when crisis number three was presented to me. One of our older children was being obstreperous and was refusing to consume any of our delightful breakfast offerings. At this point I made it loud and clear to anyone listening that I was to be left alone as my morning had not got off to a good start.
I withdrew under the bed clothes, hoping that when I came out all would be well and the last 15 minutes had just been an early morning bad dream. Sadly it soon became evident from the noises downstairs that all was not well and moods had not improved. Closing my weary eyes I sent up an arrow prayer. I asked God how I was to keep going for another 20 years. 20 years ago I started my mothering journey and it has been often wearying, sometimes worrying but unquestionably wonderful. I’m now older, a little wiser, but I am going back in some ways to the beginning. Our new little blessing is due in less than 2 months and so I must start again. Where will I find the energy, the inner resources and the strength to keep on? God whispered in his still small voice, ‘Vicki, this is a marathon, not a sprint’. I knew it was Him who had put that thought in my mind and so I mulled it over, Googling how to prepare for a marathon.
Soon enough the noises from downstairs grew louder and I knew bed could no longer hide me. I dressed myself and the little ones, brushed multiple sets of teeth and we prepared to drive to church. At this point disaster number four showed up, the bus had a flat tyre. Phil thought he could pump it up, as he had done before, but it became clear the hole was just too big. So we decided to go to church in two runs, using the little car.
Phil left Jonathan with some little ones at church and returned for the rest of us. In the car on the way down (now really late) I spoke to Phil about my morning and the word from God about motherhood being a marathon. I said that I just needed to hear something at church about running a race. We squeezed in at the back of church, in the hope of not disturbing the service. We were just in time for the sermon to begin. On the screen came up the topic of today’s sermon, ‘Running the Race’! I had no idea this was the planned talk, but clearly God knew what I needed to to hear. Goosebumps ran up my spine and tears welled in my eyes as I realised that I really had heard from God and he really had seen my rubbish morning and he really did care about my struggles. Oh what a wonderful God we serve!
The sermon was much better than my Google search and told me exactly how to run this marathon. I was to rely on Jesus to be my refreshments provider, my paramedic, my trainer, the one who would show me the way, He would provide everything I would need, I simply have to keep my eyes on Him.
It sounds so simple and yet I still struggle to obey in this area. I find it easier to look at my fears, to look at Google, to look at the world and seek answers from these places. When I finally remember to seek God I realise I am so dry that I really need Him to be my paramedic. He is so good though and He picks my up, feeds me with His Word, provides me with water that won’t run out and strengthens me with His joy.
I can run this marathon, we all can, we just need to look to Jesus, He is all we need. motherhood is a marathon, especially when raising a large family, but the Christian journey is also a marathon. We will always have struggles, whether that’s with children, spouses, loneliness, work, illness or a hundred other unknown challenges, but Jesus will help us through, we just need to ask Him.
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’ Hebrews 12:1
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