Ahab, the wickedest king of Israel, went out of his way to kill all the prophets of the Lord. In modern terms we’d say, he cancelled anyone who didn’t agree with him. Elijah was the only prophet left and God called him to stand up to Ahab. The story of Elijah on Mount Carmel is a popular one in Christian culture – Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to call down fire from heaven; despite their best efforts they cannot do it, but Elijah calls on God who not only sends a fire to burn up the sacrifice, he sends a fire so hot it burns up a soaking wet sacrifice, the altar, and all the water around the altar.
But the second part of this particular story is less well-known. It is the part where Elijah gives up.
You see, Elijah was tired of fighting, tired of running, and tired of having his life threatened by Ahab and his wife Jezebel. He was depressed and discouraged. So much so that he went into the wilderness, left his servant behind, sat under a bush and “prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors'” (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah was worn out with the work God had called him to do.
Like Elijah, moms are also called to an important work that wears them out. Day in and day out moms work to serve their families, to perform their jobs, and “take time for themselves.” Our identities become wrapped up in the work we are called to do and we lose sight of the One who called us. We see all the threats against us and want to lay down under a bush and give up.
While Elijah was laying under the bush waiting for God to take his life, “an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.” Elijah saw bread and jar of water by his head, ate, drank, and lay down again. “The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you'” (1 Kings 19:7). This angel of the Lord strengthened Elijah to continue fighting the good fight and doing the work God had called him to. Like Elijah, moms need an angel of the Lord to encourage them, to feed them, and to validate their feelings of overwhelm. This is why Mom’s Bible Studies are so incredibly important.
In addition to being fed with God’s Word, Mom’s Bible Studies provide an opportunity to make friends with women in the same stage of life, women who can come along side and remind us of the truths we forget.
Two years ago the Holy Spirit told me to step into leadership of an amazing mom’s Bible study called Mom’s Connection. This ministry had been going for over a decade, but recent changes in church staffing and the personal lives of the leaders had led to a void in strong leadership. I had been told by a close friend that she didn’t think I had what it would take to lead when the current leader stepped down, so I was surprised and anxious when the Holy Spirit told me otherwise. My intuition told me that I would be the last leader of this ministry, and I didn’t want to be responsible for the end of something so vital, so valuable, and so critical in the lives of new moms.
It turned out my intuition was right – halfway through my first year of leadership, Covid-19 took the world by storm and we had no choice but to stop meeting. Consider that for a moment – covid-19 caused Bible Studies throughout the country to shut down. In our case, the two hours once a week was often the only time that moms of young children were able to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Well played, Satan, well played.
These moms of young children (from newborn babies to elementary school kiddos) were suddenly robbed of the community they needed so badly, robbed of the opportunity to be seen as something other than a mom, robbed of the ability to sit still for a few minutes with no demands being made on them. But the community, the identity, and the stillness were not the most important things they received from this ministry. The most important thing was God’s Word.
Isaiah 55:10 compares God’s Word to the rain and the snow that fall from heaven, which do not return to the heavens without first watering the earth. God says, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” This verse tells us that God has a desire in communicating with us and has a purpose to achieve. We need only be like the earth and allow his word to fall upon us like rain or snow. It is God who makes the earth bud and flourish by sending water from the sky, and it is God who makes the lives of his people more abundant and powerful by sending his word.
Mom’s Bible Studies (that provide childcare) give some of the most desperate among us an opportunity to be the earth and allow the rain to fall upon them. The earth does not have to do anything for the snow and rain to achieve their purpose of watering the soil so that plants will grow to provide food and nourishment. All it has to do is be in the right place at the right time. If moms can be in the right place at the right time, then the word of God will fall upon them and achieve his purpose of watering their souls so they can provide food and nourishment for their families.
Many in the church have a mindset that Bible Study needs to be rigorous and in-depth in order to be effective and worthwhile. That mindset keeps many from getting into the Word and discovering who God is and what He is all about. On the other end of the spectrum, many have the mindset that a quick Verse of the Day is all they can accomplish and are satisfied with it. Mom’s Bible Studies reside in the middle ground between these two ends of the spectrum. Mom’s Bible Studies ask little of their participants throughout the week but provide the space for an in-depth look at God during the meeting time. They say, “do what you can when you are busy caring for your children but come and be fed so that you have strength for the journey.”
Once Elijah had been fed (twice) he was strengthened enough to travel for 40 days and 40 nights until he reached the mountain of God. On that mountain, we encounter another well-known Bible story involving Elijah – when God appears in a gentle whisper, not in a mighty wind nor an earthquake nor a fire. Moms do not need a major event in order to see God’s glory, but they do need to be nourished and encouraged to continue the journey. They need other moms to understand their struggles and to remind them that this journey is too much for them but not too much for God.
I feel called by God to serve moms in the most difficult stage of motherhood, the beginning, and to start anew a study like Mom’s Connection. Please join me in praying for people who will come alongside me to make this a reality. This journey feels too much for me, but it is not too much for God.