A spring, not a well

It was 5:07 AM, and Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine That Could” was all I could think about.

Not THE Little Engine herself, not the kind little blue engine. 

More so, the rusty old engine.

My eyelids felt heavy as I rolled out of bed, the balls of my feet hitting the floor first. My ankles cracked and my knees ached. Inwardly I blamed my run from the previous night but, in all actuality, it’s likely just Father Time taking its course as well as consequence from years of back handsprings and weekends on the soccer fields.

I plodded down the hallway to my daughter’s room where she cried from her crib, silently willing her to not wake her brothers in the adjacent room.

I must rest my weary wheels… I cannot, I cannot, I cannot. The rusty old engine’s words circled through my mind. I scooped up my daughter who cheered with glee to see her rescuer and turned back toward my bed in vain. As is true every other morning, she would NOT be going back to sleep. No matter how great at cuddling I happen to be. She prefers rolling around, kicking her legs enthusiastically, begging for food by way of screeching, “Eeeeeeeee” (eat) at the top of her lungs.

My weary wheels… I cannot, I cannot, I cannot.


I was talking to a friend yesterday, a mom of two small girls. We sat at her table, coffee mugs in hand, as our children dragged out every toy within her home.

“Why is mothering so hard?” we posed the question to each other, to the void.

It’s the age-old question. Why should something so ubiquitous as motherhood, be so hard? Shouldn’t something that a great majority of the planet has done for as long as we’ve been a species be easier by now? Why haven’t we figured out the magic pill yet?

“I think, it’s because it’s SO Biblical. An unending pouring-out, a call to suffer, with only the long view in mind. There are very few instances of instant gratification. It’s the paradox of the Gospel, to truly live is to die. And motherhood shows us that reality every second of every day. We don’t get any awards, raises, or promotions. Our hard work of endless sowing likely won’t show fruit, if any, for years. Every decision we make directly affects someone else. And that’s why it’s hard.”

Truth. It is hard. We want what we want when we want it. And motherhood, the sacrifice, laughs in the face of our wants. I just want to drink a cup of hot coffee without reheating it in the microwave five times. I just want to have my pre-baby body. I want obsequious children. I just want, want, want. So many ephemeral wants.

But, as Gloria Furman says, Biblical motherhood is marked by our weakness. By a continual need of someone else to push us through the day. We boast in our weakness, not in our sin. Because it is only by the grace of God that any of our kids turn out okay. We wipe noses, repent. We make peanut butter sandwiches, repent. We vacuum cereal crumbs from the rug AGAIN. And we repent. We repent for our passive-aggressive comments, our selfishness, our short tempers, our distraction. And it feels draining.
Image result for spring water public domain
But, it can only feel draining if you’re looking at the bottom of an empty well. A well running dry.
And, guess what? God doesn’t give us a well. He gives us a spring.

And the Lord will guide you continually
    and satisfy your desire in scorched places
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:11

This. This is why when we feel we cannot take another step, we are somehow able to roll out of bed and take ten. This is why when we cannot handle another tantrum, we somehow manage to do so. This is why when we feel our servant hearts are wrung out from exhaustion, we can make another hot meal and fill another sippy cup.

When Peter exhorts the elders in 1 Peter 5 to shepherd the flock of God… “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock,” we can look at our small flock of toddlers and babies and lead a life of example. If anyone wants to be first, Jesus tells us, he must be very last… a servant of all. We lead by serving, just as our Savior did. Who, though He was in the form of GOD, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped… but humbled Himself. He humbled Himself by serving us, to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2).

So, yes. Our wheels are weary and an empty well cries, “I cannot, I cannot, I cannot.” But we are not given a well. The Lord has given us a spring. And His waters do not fail.


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