Tina Osterhouse: How Mothers (and Others) Minister in Disrupted Spaces

For many parents, the advent of the school year brings with it a familiar and difficult dynamic: cycles of interruptions. As mothers, in particular, we learn to be flexible with our plans and structure our days to bend to our kids’ needs. Nonetheless, as Michelle Radford notes in her recent CT interview, the unique challenge of parenting often precipitates a crisis of identity for many women.

When my two kids—born 14 months apart—were young, I felt as if I’d never get ahead in my career because I was too busy changing diapers, waking up in the middle of the night to feed my children, or running to the store for a bottle of baby Motrin. I struggled with the incessant interruptions and spent much of my time relinquishing well-made plans.

Now, however, as my children move into their teens, I’m beginning to recognize that, in those early years, God was teaching me to be openhanded with my hopes in order to serve others. What I thought hindered me from real ministry was, in fact, God’s tool instructing me to be present to the immediate needs around me, and what felt like falling behind in my career was just the character formation that Christ had been looking for. In sum, those early days of parenthood were teaching me to listen to the voice of Jesus.

All of us—mothers, fathers, pastors, teachers, and everyone else—are part of God’s ministry of interrupted plans, his kingdom of “on-the-way.” We see this in Scripture.

Much of the Jesus’ ministry happened on the way to something else. In Mark 6, Jesus finds out that his cousin, John the Baptist, has been beheaded. The apostles gather around to pass on the terrible news. Jesus then tells them that they need to come away and rest a while. However, the crowds catch wind of where they’re going and follow them. When Jesus sees them, he hits the pause button on his plan and takes a detour. The crowds are like sheep without a shepherd, and he cares too much to ignore them. Five loaves and a few fish later, everyone has their fill, and Jesus continues on with his original plan. He goes up to the mountain to pray.

Luke, too, tells a story of interruption. While Jesus is on his way to the home of a synagogue leader, Jairus, to help his dying daughter, a woman in the crowd reaches out in faith to touch him. Jesus feels the power go out from him and stops. “Who touched me?” he asks (Luke 8:45). The woman emerges from the crowd, trembling, and tells him her story. She has been bleeding for 12 years and no one can help her. Jesus listens, names her faith, and blesses her with peace as she goes on her way.

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Source: Christianity Today