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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Unwanted Parts of Motherhood - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Unwanted Parts of Motherhood - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Unwanted Parts of Motherhood - Part 2
TOPICS: Mother's Day, Motherhood

It's an honor to be with you today. I wrote a series of messages around Mother's Day. We're gonna share a part of that with you today. This one, we're gonna focus on some of the unwanted challenges in being a mom, or just in parenting in general. You know, for all the wonder of watching the children grow and the joy it can bring to your life, it can be a real challenge, and not all parts of that assignment are always fun. But with God's help, there's a meaning and a purpose in every day that transcends the routine or the drudgery or even the exhaustion. Enjoy the lesson.

Then, in Luke chapter 2, verse 43, Jesus has grown a bit. He's made it to the age where, in Jewish culture, they'll recognize him as a man, so he's included in the family's pilgrimage feasts from Nazareth to Jerusalem. So he's made the trip with Mary and Joseph, and the feast is over, and they've headed home, and after the feast, it's verse 43. "While his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it". Whoops. "Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. They began looking for him among their relatives and friends. And when they didn't find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. And after three days," they have looked for three days. Is it safe to say that may not have been the most joyous reunion? I can see Joseph, "Mary, he's your kid. You do something about him". "In the temple court, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions".

You know, if you overlook the needs of one of your children, that would make you a normal parent. We can all tell stories, I suspect. Not because of negligence or something willful, just life happening or our lack of experience or all of those things, no matter our best efforts. And as awkward as that is, as horrifying as that could be, I talked to a mom this week whose child had rolled off a counter while they were reaching for whatever they were tending to their child with. And as horrifying as those moments can be, can you imagine losing the Son of God? You gotta let that just sit there for a moment. Do you ask for help? Do you pray? "God, I know you know where he is". I'm not exactly sure how you address that. And they're several days into this, so I'm thinking there's probably some anxiety that's built up.

Is it just safe to say when we read that little portion of the story that it's pretty clear that Joseph and Mary had some feelings of being unprepared and inadequate for shepherding God's Son into adulthood? I mean, what do you do? Did he misbehave? Did he treat his brothers and sisters fairly? Do you put Jesus in timeout out? When you do, does time stop? Or does it speed up? I mean, I have questions. There's enough information given to us that I don't think we're being disrespectful or irreverent to suggest that there were times where Mary and Joseph felt ill prepared. And I promise you, both in parenting and in life and in serving the Lord, you're not outside the will of God. It's not the condition of the hardness of your heart.

When you have that sense of, "Well, I don't really feel prepared for this. I didn't know this was gonna present itself. Never had to navigate this before". And the answer that we want to cultivate, the answer we wanna stay closest to, is to just, to continue to say "yes" to the Lord. God will take us through in our brokenness, in our uncertainty. When we've been distracted, when we missed an assignment, whatever it may be, God is faithful. We have an enemy. He's an accuser. I talked to someone last night; they've been through a difficult season in their life. And the enemy was berating them with accusations. What you should have done. What you could have done. Those are evil task masters.

The challenge in the moment is to acknowledge our mistakes, to tell the Lord the truth, to humble ourselves, and go find Jesus. We have to do that. We may not have physically misplaced him, but we have to go find Jesus and align ourselves with him again. The patterns haven't changed that much. The next segment that I think Mary exemplifies for us so beautifully, which is enormously helpful, is she had an understanding of who Jesus was that exceeded anyone else that was available to her. And yet, we find her in some very unique places in John chapter 2. It's one of my favorite miracle stories. Not because of the outcome, but because of the circumstances. Jesus is just beginning his public ministry. He's just beginning to gather his disciples. It's all a very fledgling initiative. It says, "On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee".

It's right on the shores of the northern end of the Lake of Galilee. "And Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding". Most of Jesus's disciples when he recruited them were teenagers. Don't you know they were thrilled to get to go to a wedding? "When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, 'They have no more wine.'" And Jesus replied, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come". How many moms have had a teenager say, "Why are you trying to involve me"? Little eye roll thrown in there. The next line is the one that just fascinates me. "His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.'" And she didn't amplify. She didn't say, "Listen, this angel came to see me a while back. You're not gonna believe this, but". She just says, "Listen, whatever he tells you to do, whatever he tells you to do".

Now, we have very little textual information to suggest to us why Mary would make such an outside-the-box statement, why she would give such bizarre directions to a group of people there to serve wedding guests. She's disrupting their catering plan. "Whatever that guy over there tells you, you be doing that". And then it gets even more bizarre 'cause Jesus said, "There's six big jars of water. Fill those". Now, they don't have a tap outside. They're not gonna bring the hose inside and fill 'em up. This is gonna require manual labor, effort. Gallons and gallons of water have to be moved. It's hot. "Now take some of the water up to the host of the feast".

The Bible doesn't tell us at what point that water became wine. And I don't know, I mean, I really, I don't really have an opinion on where it would have been more fun. When the servant dipped some of the water that he just put in the pot out to take up front, and he looked. That'd been pretty cool. I bet he's grinning all the way down the aisle. "Hey"! I think it's even more awkward if it wasn't, and he filled a cup or a bowl with water and carried it up to the host. That took some courage. "Do whatever that man tells you to do". We don't know where the miracle took place. We just know something remarkable happened, and that Mary was the catalyst.

"Jesus, they need help. This is humiliating". "Not my problem". She didn't argue with him. "Just do whatever he tells you to do". I wanna learn to follow Jesus that way. I still complain and argue. I try to make my point. Do you do that with God? Do you ever have a sense God wants you to do something so you get out a legal pad and put down the pros and cons 'cause God hasn't thought about all the cons? And if I can make a convincing enough list, he will no doubt say, "Allen, my apologies. I had not fully thought this through. Let me amend my instruction and take your sage advice into consideration". Never happened. And I'm still making lists. Do whatever he tells you to do.

Maybe a clue is in Luke. Much earlier in the story, years in front of Cana in Galilee, it's birth night. The baby's arrived, they're in a stable, they're overlooked. There's no fanfare until the lowest, the people that are on the lowest rung of the social ladder show up. I suppose if we borrowed something from contemporary culture, it would be like homeless persons. I mean, they're just given no status. It's the shepherds. Now, we have, they've been romanticized through our nativity scenes and our Christmas plays and Charlie Brown's Christmas, but in the culture at the time, the shepherds were on the very periphery of culture. And they're the ones that get the angelic announcement, the heavenly host, and all the sky, and the...right? They had northern lights when nobody else did.

And it says in Luke 2:16 that "The shepherds hurried off and they found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. And when they'd seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child". Not what had been told them by Mary and Joseph, what had been told to them by the angels, by the heavenly host. God used the least likely messengers to deliver a message that had rattled the corridors of heaven. "Today in the city of David is born to you a Savior". Good news for all people, right? Remember the message? I know it's the wrong season. That's another card, but it still the...that's the message they're pushing all through Bethlehem to anybody who will listen, some crazy-eyed shepherds. But Luke's commentary said, "All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things".

That's an interesting phrase. Treasured up what? What the angels have to say. I mean, this is Luke chapter 2, so Mary's very early in this story. It's been just about nine months ago, she had an angel visit her. "I'm Gabriel". And it was an awkward meeting. We don't know the sequence of events. I don't know if Mary went to Joseph and said, "We need to talk". We do know there was a breach because Joseph is troubled, and then he gets an angelic visit. So I'm pretty sure Joseph and Mary have talked about their correlating angelic visits. And then Mary goes to see Elizabeth, her aunt in the south, and I'm quite confident that there's a communication.

Zechariah's not saying much. If you don't know the story, the angel comes to visit Zechariah in the temple and says, "Your wife, who is mature, is going to conceive". And Zechariah said, "I don't", and he said, "Oh, because you didn't believe, you just be quiet". And he was mute until John was born. But I have a feeling Zechariah and Elizabeth have communicated a bit, and so Elizabeth can share with Mary about the angel that had visited their circumstance. So now we know that at least this is the fourth time the angels have stepped into the narrative, and this time it's the heavenly host. And all Luke gives us, all he says is, "Mary treasured these things up".

Treasure is usually something you have in relatively small, limited amounts, but you attach great value to it. You hold it close. You protect it. You don't typically blatantly display it before the public. It's your treasure, and you don't want it too widely known. It becomes far more vulnerable the more people that know about it. So measure, he's treasuring these things up. I love that imagery. Do you treasure those places where God comes into your life? Even if it comes with stretch marks? Even if it means you're gonna have to walk through some difficult things? See, I think far too often, myself included, I'm tempted to complain and grumble and try to find sympathy.

So you kinda mess your hair up and go, "The Lord is asking me to do something". You're probably better at it than I am. I'm learning to follow the Lord. Almost every God invitation that's ever come to my life has come with a sense of, "I'm not sure I can do that". I'm not sure I either have the strength or the will or the determination. I'm not sure I have the want to sometimes. I mean, I try to look away and pretend like I didn't hear and I didn't notice. It's kinda like when your mom's asking you, you know, to clean up your room. "Huh"? But Mary's treasuring these things in her heart. I wanna do a better job of treasuring those places where God puts those invitations in my life. I wanna attach more value to them.

I wanna imagine them to be more significant, more purposeful, more directive. I wanna lean into them a little more carefully. I've even been going back a bit and apologizing, repenting if you prefer, for some of the complaints and the bad attitudes I've had around some of God's invitations to me. "She treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart". I'll tell you what I think the outcome of that is. Some 30 or so years later, when they're in a wedding in Cana and there's no wine and humiliation's about to break forth and her friends are about to be in a really awkward place, Mary goes and finds Jesus and said, "Hey, psst, got a little opportunity here". And Jesus is like, "Oh, come on". And Mary doesn't argue, she just looks at the service. She's trusting what's in that man. She knows him by this point.

"Whatever he tells you to do. Whatever he tells you to do". If I could give you a suggestion today as a friend, as a fellow traveler, whatever the Lord invites you to do, you say yes. Whether it brings cheers or jeers, you say yes. Whether it looks like fun or it's gonna be a lift, you say yes. Whether you understand how it could all work out beautifully or it just seems awkward, you say yes. In my limited experience, I've come to know God is faithful. Mary's story doesn't end there. In John 19, it says, "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby," that's John. "He said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to John, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, the disciple took her into his home".

I'm pretty sure when the angels showed up in Nazareth and said, "You are highly favored," that Mary didn't anticipate a cross. I'm pretty certain that in Cana, when she was making some arrangements for the wedding to be a bigger success than anybody imagined, she didn't anticipate a cross. I don't know how she could have. Even if she had anticipated, even if God had revealed it to her, the horror of it is beyond something you could contemplate. And I'll candidly acknowledge to you a part of saying yes to the Lord and following him and doing his bidding is a willingness to process loss. Doesn't mean every day you win in the way you want to. Doesn't mean everybody gets across the finish line in the form and the fashion that you prefer them to.

I've done funerals for people that I cared a great deal about, that I loved deeply that seemed to have left early. I've celebrated victories and miracles and triumphs beyond any explanation that God brought to lives. Following the Lord doesn't mean that every day is wonderful and every day is easy and that every answer is the one I want, but that does not diminish the faithfulness of God. It was true in Mary's life, it's been true in mine, and I believe it will be true in yours.

In fact, sometimes the most dramatic involvement of God, and this is the painful part, it's gonna be beyond your control. You're not in control, and you know it. You need an outcome you can't deliver. No matter when you've done your best, you've punched every button and pushed every lever and you've prepared to the fullest possible and you've expent yourself in effort and exhausted your intellectual abilities and dialed every phone friend that you know, the outcome is still beyond you. And that's where the faithfulness of God is on such remarkable display.

In John 19 and verse 30, "Jesus," on the cross, "said, 'It is finished.' And he bowed up his head and gave up his spirit". It's beyond Mary. There's no angelic visit in that moment. There's a broken heart. But in the very same way, the Resurrection was beyond her control. She couldn't put life back in Jesus's body. She couldn't roll away the stone. She couldn't even convince the disciples the tomb was empty. When the message came, they had to go look. Mary is strangely absent in this biblical text from that little window of time when Jesus has been resurrected and the tomb is opened and they're trying to sort out where he's gone, Mary is not directly right there in the narrative. That one's beyond her too. It's beyond her on ascension day, 40 days later, when they go to the Mount of Olives and Jesus just lifts off.

But the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension are at the heart of the transformational power of the gospel. That to get to that point to be Jesus on the cross. Jesus raised to life again, God needed the obedience, the willful cooperation of a very young woman in a village in Nazareth who really had no clue the journey she was beginning. Sounds like motherhood to me. Sounds like motherhood to me. Sounds like following God to me. See, the reality, if we get down to the brass tacks, if we really kind of peel all back all the layers, most of us come to faith, not because we wanna follow God with our lives. We come up with this idea that there might be a heaven, and we'd rather go there. 'Cause there might be a heaven, there might, just on a long shot, be a hell, and we don't wanna go there. So help me navigate this. Tell me what I need to do. I wanna go here, and I don't wanna go there. Then we begin to say yes.

Most of us don't begin that journey going, "Listen, God, I'd like to follow you wherever you want me to go. Whatever you want me to do. Whoever you want me to become". Now, most of us start the journey even after we say yes to the Lord, invite him into our lives, then we think, "Well, now I've got some real help. God, help me to get ahead of the Joneses. Help me to make better investments. Help me to put my kids in the right places and get 'em on the right teams. God, help me get my way". That's just me, I know, but pray for me. And then God begins the process of helping me learn to say yes to him. And you find yourselves then repeatedly where the outcomes are beyond your control. Parents, they're beyond your control.

This is the ultimate train and release program, and even when you've done all of your best, that new life that you helped to shepherd through all those years has a will of its own, and you'll need God's help. Motherhood is God's idea. There's some portions that come with that that don't always feel welcome or celebrated. But we have a desperate need in the midst of our world today, in the midst of our community, for godly women, godly wives, and godly mothers. If you've happened to benefit from one of those in your life, say thank you today. If you're making the journey with someone who's standing in one of those roles, bless them, encourage them. Don't impede them.

And if you're struggling to say yes to the Lord, just keep saying, "I want to cooperate with you. I wanna cooperate with you". And every time you get enough of a glimpse to understand that God's been involved, you treasure that moment in your heart. You hold it close. It will inform decisions that are coming later. God is moving in the earth; he's preparing a church, a bride, without spot or wrinkle. I would strongly suggest you be a part of that. That's not about this congregation or any particular denomination. That's about you and the Lord. I brought you a prayer. It's Mother's Day, we gotta pray together. Why don't you stand with me for this. Have you found it? Let's read it together:

Heavenly Father, thank you for the mother you chose for me. I trust your grace and mercy. Today I choose to bless her and rejoice in the faithfulness of my God. I pray for the families of our nation, strengthen them, awaken them to your purposes and protect them from evil. In Jesus's name, amen.

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