Raising kids is no joke, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Our oldest just recently turned three and we find ourselves constantly looking at each other asking, what do we do about that? How are we going to discipline the one year old who likes timeout? How on earth do you potty train a stubborn and extremely cautious 3 year old boy??? Seriously, if anyone has tips on that last one we’re all ears!

Again and again motherhood makes me painfully aware of my own limitations.

I found myself being reminded once again a few weeks ago. It was the night before I was to be left alone with all three of our children for the first time. As I laid on the couch letting anxiety rule my thoughts I felt the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit break through, encouraging me to bring all my fear and anxiety to him.

What I felt Him say was this, “It is too much for you daughter, but you are not alone. I want you to turn to me, to be dependent on me to carry you through each day.”

He brought me to the end of myself once again, and for that I am always thankful because I am the best version of myself when awareness of my own limitations sends me humbly to the foot of the cross.

Now more than four weeks later, we’ve started to settle into a routine and I’m feeling less overwhelmed by our day to day. We get out less but snuggle more, and the Lord is teaching me to be content in this “survival mode” stage.

It is easy for me to get into a rhythm and start feeling confident in myself rather than in Christ. Each time the result is the same, sin begins to wreak havoc on my heart and mind. My temper is shorter, selfish and ungrateful thoughts start replacing God’s truth in my mind, and peace is replaced by anxiety. It never happens all at once so I may not notice that I’ve shifted my focus from the Lord and His will to me and my desires right away. But it always ends the same. Me realizing once again how broken and in need of a savior I am, and the Lord once again welcoming me back with the open arms of a loving father.

We are so much like Israel aren’t we?

“But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and beside me, there is no savior.
It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.

Hosea 13:4-6 (emphasis added)

There are days when I find myself discouraged by my consistent wavering, wishing I could be more steady and unwavering like Jesus was and less like the Israelite’s who forgot God at the first sign of discomfort (or when they got too comfortable). After all, the bible says that as a Christian it is no longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me, so I should be able to muster enough strength to measure up to God’s expectations, right? The enemy wants us to believe that God expects us to do it all on our own, but we know that to be a lie. In the midst of discouragement like this I am comforted by Paul’s humble (and oh so accurate) description of our struggle against flesh and blood.

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”

Romans 7: 18-19

I don’t know about you but I find it encouraging (and freeing) to know that Paul himself struggled in this way and was still used so mightily by God. He didn’t let the enemy keep him in a holding pattern of shame and despair, but turned and praised the only one who can truly set us free.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

Romans 7:24-25

As long as we occupy this earth in our imperfect human bodies, we WILL struggle against the sins of the flesh. The bible is very clear on this fact. But we can find the freedom to return to the Lord again and again when we fully embrace the gospel of Christ by humbly repenting, acknowledging our desperate need, and accepting His sacrifice for us.

When I find myself stuck in a sin pattern, or overcome by discouraging accusatory thoughts, I find it helpful to stop and do some listening prayer, asking the Lord which of the thoughts are lies from the enemy trying to keep me from reconciliation with the Lord, and what God’s truth is. Then its time to go to battle. Time to fight against the lies by choosing to dwell only on God’s truth. For more on this idea of listening prayer and fighting for God’s truth to reign supreme in our minds, check out my post “Recognizing God’s Voice“.

With each new reminder of my own limitations I breathe out a prayer of repentance and thank the Lord for reminding me of my need for Him, trusting He will fulfill His promise to complete the work He began in me. Until that glorious day comes I will celebrate progress and cling to hope. I will fight for God’s truth to reign in my mind and work to rely on the Holy Spirit more, and in doing so be more steady, wavering less with each storm the Lord brings me through.

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