Last month we began looking into what Scripture tells us about our workload, and attitude toward it, as mothers and particularly as homeschooling moms. Around us, we are often bombarded with a philosophy that says: Take care of yourself, make time for yourself, you deserve a break, don’t push too hard. Homeschooling moms find their lives filled to the brim, allowing little, if any, time left over for their personal interests or pursuits. This creates a conflict. We are told to take it easy, and yet there is so much to do. Is something wrong? What should our expectations of this be?
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). In evaluating these verses, we see that Jesus tells us He will give us rest. He then goes on to define what this rest is: a rest for our souls. We find here that Jesus says His yoke is easy, and His burden is light, but it is still a yoke and a burden. The words “yoke” and “burden” imply work and effort. These verses don’t appear to be saying that we won’t have to do anything, but rather that the Lord Jesus is doing it with us. He is the One strengthening us for the task. He wants us yoked to Him for the work He has set before us. We aren’t to rely on ourselves to meet the demands placed upon us, but rather we are to depend on His resources. I believe that it is the rest of the soul—looking to Jesus—that makes the yoke easy and the burden light in the midst of the work.
“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:7-10).
This story speaks volumes to my heart concerning my expectations about my personal workload. In these verses, I don’t see the master commending his servant and offering him a quiet evening with a warm bath and a refreshing drink for his diligent work all day. The world’s philosophy of work seems to be quite the opposite of what this example shows. From the world, I hear statements like, “You have worked hard; now you deserve to take a break. Take time for yourself. It’s your reward.”
In these verses from Luke 17, I feel the Lord showing me that He values service and obedience in my life. He wants my all. He is concerned about my heart completely following Him—no matter how much work is involved. I am only an “unprofitable servant” doing my duty in obedience to my Master, Jesus Christ. My reward comes from Him in the form of the fruit of the Spirit, a rest of soul, my relationship with Him and with my family, rather than in the form of amusement. My joy comes from serving my family, my greatest treasure, more than from having fun.
Again, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying we won’t ever be able to rest from our labor. The Lord knows our needs, and He provides rest for us. It is likely He will give each person rest in different ways at different times. I encourage you to look for and be grateful for the rest the Lord has supplied in your days. For example, in my life one time of rest is our family Bible time. We spend about an hour in the Word every night. As we sit, while reading and discussing the Word, my spiritual soul is fed while my physical body rests.
Another example of rest comes from God resting on the seventh day after six days of creation. Then He told the Israelites to observe a Sabbath day each week, a day of worship and rest. Even at that, though, the Sabbath was not a day for a person to please himself. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13-14). Our family has a weekly day of worship and rest. On that day, my normal work is set aside, meals are simple, and there is no school, cleaning, or laundry done.
I am not telling us that we skip needed sleep to accomplish what the Lord has put in front of us. I deal specifically with sleep in this Mom’s Corner. What I am saying, though, is let’s expect that the Lord will use our obedience to Him to the fullest and that our lives will be filled with self-sacrifice and work. I am saying let’s consider whether our focus is to get through with our work so we can have time to ourselves or to “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). I want to find my joy in what He has called me to do rather than directing my thoughts at when I can have fun.
I am also not saying we can’t do anything we enjoy. Instead I am asking that we consider our focus. Is our purpose to make it through the work so we can “play,” or is our purpose to love our families by serving them? My heart’s desire is that what I am doing as a homeschool mom and homemaker is what I enjoy doing the most—that it is what my heart craves doing.
In two places in the New Testament, Paul tells us not to grow weary in what the Lord Jesus has called us to do. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Do you think that in these verses Paul is telling his readers to stop their “well doing”? No, I believe he is encouraging them to continue even though what they are doing can cause weariness and a desire to “faint,” or, in other words, quit. It appears to me, from these verses, that weariness is a choice on my part. It doesn’t have to do with my activities or lack of them, as long as the Lord has directed me to do them, but rather it relates to my thoughts about myself and what I am doing. I can choose to be weary and faint by thinking about me and a quest for my time. I can choose not to be weary and not to faint by thinking about the reason I work, the recipients of my work, the outcome of my work, and the One Who called me to work. I reap what I sow—weariness or joy.
“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). Scripture has many verses that indicate a believer’s life is filled with work. This is one example. With the kind of labor and striving pictured here, I envision the verses in Matthew 11 about the yoke. When I am yoked with Christ, He is working in me and with me. It is not a labor and striving unto weariness, but rather it is one of might and victory.
As homeschooling moms, our days are filled with the duties of being a keeper at home plus teaching our children. I have to make a decision: do I want to serve myself, or do I want to serve Jesus by serving my family? When I serve myself, I grapple for free time and relaxation. When I serve Jesus, I commit to doing what He has called me to do, focusing on rest for my soul through my relationship with Him, but receiving rest for my body when He brings it to me. I believe as we view our mothering roles as being ones that involve work and have the right attitudes toward this, we will be happy. “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:13-17).