Sometimes motherhood leaves me feeling like an empty vessel; I’m all poured out and have nothing left to give. All the emotion of it. The mental exertion spent trying to outwit my 5 year old. The physical exhaustion of chasing a toddler around. It’s no joke.
At the end of the day, the week, the month, I feel like I have a pitiful offering left to lift up to God. And if you remember your Sunday School lesson about Cain and Abel and the whole notion of bringing your best before God, the immediate feeling is one of guilt.
A couple months back I led a song during a worship service at church but I was worn and tired—so many outside stressors lending themselves to that. In the week leading up to that service, I couldn’t help but contrast the difference from when I sang in high school. Before I ever stepped onto a stage, I was so diligent about quieting myself before the Lord; about laying my heart bare before Him; about raising up surrendered hands. I prepared and brought my best for Him. Then I lifted up my song as an offering to the Lord; not to anyone else, but to Him.
And now? Well…
The night before I sang I found myself lifting up dry bones and asking God to take my broken offering. “I’m an empty vessel, God. I have nothing much to give. I don’t know what you can do with my offering this time around, but it’s yours nonetheless.”
In that moment God reminded me of the story about the widow’s offering. Mark 12:41-44 reads:
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’” (NIV)
She, out of her poverty, put in everything. “Out of her poverty” sounds about right. Oh, sweet Jesus, I might not have much to give right now, but I’ll sure put it all in.
It is so freeing to realize that God readily accepts what may feel like a meager offering from us. God doesn’t look down at us with a disapproving finger. He knows our hearts. It’s only when we withhold what we do have that it hurts the heart of God.
Back in high school, in retrospect, I had oodles of time to use however I pleased, and some of that was spent with the Lord. I could easily spend a couple of hours on a given evening reading through the Scriptures, listening to worship music, and journaling to God. It was precious, precious time that strengthened my relationship with my Savior, and that was given out of what I had.
But fast forward 15 years later—marriage, jobs, 3 kids, school activities, sports and the like—and some days I’m lucky if I get to pee without someone banging on the door and shouting, “MOOOMMM!” Motherhood is a beautiful thing, and I would never trade it for anything (we’ll spend another blog on all the pros of it 😉). But that doesn’t negate the fact that it is hard and exhausting— most worthwhile things are .
Here I am in a completely different season of life, needing to realize that my offering to the Lord is not pitiful, but it does look different. Instead of hours knelt before our Savior in the quiet space of my teenage bedroom, I might snag 15 minutes alone with the Lord, sometimes while my 2 year old crawls on top of me. My van is converted into a sanctuary as a sweet hymn plays through the speakers. My kitchen becomes a room of prayer as I wash dishes and fold laundry.
Late that night before I had to sing on the worship team, I tried Googling “empty vessel.” I was convinced there was a profound verse in the Bible about it. I came up short; however, I stumbled upon a song by Hillsong called “Broken Vessels.” Since it seems appropriate for our conversation, I share it here with you.
May our God bless you and give you peace as you press on through this faith walk. May you feel confident that whatever season you are in, if you sincerely lift up all you have in an offering to God, He is honored by that.
Grace and peace,