Experiencing a Mother’s Love

Most of us are familiar with the images and metaphors of God as Father, King and Prince.  We even know Him as the Bread of Life, Living Water and Good Shepherd.  But what about God as….Mother?!?

This past Sunday we celebrated Mother’s Day.  Depending on your background and situation, this day may have been a joyous occasion with many happy memories, or one filled with dread and despair.  Depending where you’re at today, you may have also reflected on your own journey as a mother or celebrated with someone who is the mother to your children.  Or perhaps you found little reason to celebrate and the day brought about bitter memories and realizations of broken or unrealized dreams.

Regardless of how you may have viewed Mother’s Day in your own life, the metaphor of God as Mother is a beautiful image to explore.  Every person, regardless of your experience with motherhood, can enjoy the warm embrace of a mother’s love by understanding four ways of God.

1.  Way of Protection – Imagine taking refuge under the wings of the Lord. That’s precisely the picture painted by Boaz in Ruth 2:12. But there’s more. Imagine a fire that breaks out on a farm. You struggle and fight to put out the flames that are enveloping the barns and stumble upon the charred, smoldering remains of the hen house. You notice a hen with singed feathers and a limp body lying to the side but when you move the body of the dead hen, something moves. Suddenly you find four little chicks, safely protected and guarded from the deadly flames under the wings of the hen. Isn’t that the image Matthew 23:37 paints?

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

God is like the Mother Hen gathering the chicks under its wing, protecting and guarding them from the flames of the world.

2.  Way of Comfort – Isn’t it typically the mom who bandages scraped knees, cuddles children tight when lightning and thunder strike, and holds hands when facing scary times? Sometimes all an inconsolable baby needs is the warm embrace and comfort of her loving mother. We often associate the nurturing warmth of a parent-child relationship with mothers, but rarely extrapolate that image to our understanding of God. That makes Isaiah 66:12-13 even more surprising, and yet beautifully comforting.

For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; 
you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

3.  Way of Patience – I don’t know about you, but I’m not a very patient person- especially when it comes to interacting with my children.  I often wonder and worry just how my children will remember me in the future – as a loving, patient mom – or as someone who too often became frustrated and impatient?  I don’t think there’s a mom around who doesn’t struggle at times with being patient with her children.  But what’s beautiful is that God doesn’t struggle with patience.  In fact we read about His patience in 2 Peter 3:9.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

4.  Way of Sacrifice – Moms sacrifice for their children and for their families.  They just do.  Most moms wouldn’t say their choices are sacrifices as much as just “setting priorities”.  But however you may define a mom’s selfless involvement in others’ lives, the word “sacrifice” seems a natural fit.  The poem “Before I was a Mom” by Sharon L. Twitchell really speaks to this idea beautifully:

Before I was a mom, I made and ate hot meals, wore unstained clothes and had quiet conversations on the phone.
Before I was a mom, I never worried about how late I went to bed because I could sleep in as long as I wanted.
Before I was a mom, I washed my face and brushed my teeth everyday.
Before I was a mom, I enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee while reading the
morning newspaper on a Saturday morning.
Before I was a mom, I slept the whole night through.
Before I was a mom, my house was clean everyday and I didn’t worry about whether or not my plants were poisonous.
Before I was a mom, I had never been puked on, pooped on, peed on, chewed on or pinched by little fingers.
Before I was a mom, I had complete control of my mind, thoughts and body.
Before I was a mom, I never held down a screaming child while doctors and nurses did tests or gave shots. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces because I couldn’t stop the hurt.
Before I was a mom, I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
Before I was a mom, I never got gloriously happy over a toothless grin.
Before I was a mom, I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn’t want to put it down. I never was up in the wee hours of the night just watching a baby while it slept. I never knew that something so small couldn’t effect my life so tremendously.
Before I was a mom, I never knew I could love someone so unconditionally and completely.
Before I was a mom, I never knew how satisfying it is to feed a hungry
child. I never knew how fulfilling it is to soothe a baby’s cries.
Before I was a mom, I loved my mom, but didn’t understand her.
Before I was a mom, I never knew the warmth, the joy, the heartache, the
wonderment, or the fulfillment of being a mom.
Before I was a mom, I never knew I would love being a mom.

God’s way is also the way of sacrifice.  In fact, He made the ultimate sacrifice by sending His only son to the cross for my sin and for your sin, in an ultimate act of sacrifice.  It was in that sacrifice that we see God’s ways of protection, comfort, and patience fully embodied. Paul expresses this beautifully in 2 Corinthians 8:9:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

As you consider the ways of God – the ways of protection, comfort, patience and sacrifice – may you feel the warm embrace of a mother’s love.  Listen to the song  “A Mother’s Love” and as you reflect on the words, may you also understand and experience God’s love for you in an entirely new way.  He longs to gather you under His wings where you can take refuge…He comforts you as a mother comforts her child….His patience with you and sacrifice for you are done out of an extreme love and compassion….

How does viewing God as a Mother change your perspective?  Were you familiar with these passages – particularly the ones from Matthew 23 and Isaiah 66?  How do they help you experience a mother’s love?