It happens every spring—the month of May hits like a hurricane! As mommas, we prepare ahead of time for the December holiday rush–but May? Not so much. Then all of a sudden “all the things” come crashing into the last four weeks of school, right? Recitals and banquets. Final projects and exams. Spring sports and graduations. (I personally believe folks threw Mother’s Day into this month just to keep our heads above water!) If May is full blown with chaos at your house, this Heart of Womanhood Blog is for you. Take off your shoes and soak in three minutes of holy encouragement from a mom who has learned to stay grounded. Instead of being a momma running through May with my hair on fire, Melissa Gilmour steps up to challenge me to daily encounter the God of the burning bush and be reminded that “the place I AM standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) Will you join us?
My mom got me a sign for Mother’s Day that says, “Chaos Coordinator.” It sits on the windowsill behind my kitchen sink. What was meant to be a funny gift, has helped me in a most unexpected way by changing how I view my circumstances. When chaos inevitably happens, I now think, Oh wait, this is totally normal—I’m the Chaos Coordinator!
God’s Word is kind of like that. In it we discover that trials, troubles, and temptations are completely normal. Not only are they normal, they are part of God’s pruning process to make us more like Jesus and position us for our divine assignments from Him.
I met my husband Scotty on a blind date on my 22nd birthday in late 2004. Our relationship progressed fast and furiously. We were engaged in 2.5 months and married 11 months later. Thankfully, we both loved Jesus! Shortly after we were married, I landed my first job as an elementary school teacher in August of 2006. Except for the fight we had in the body wash aisle on our first trip to Kroger, the time I slammed the bedroom door in my husband’s face after he wouldn’t let me keep hitting snooze on my alarm clock, and the rising resentment, things were progressing just fine.
Then came October. Ten months after tying the knot and two months into my first year as a teacher, I got a feeling that something was off. We were trying to follow the Taking Charge of Your Fertility book to a T, but who was I kidding, I didn’t know the first thing about my body—which the expensive pregnancy test confirmed, as did the three Dollar Tree tests after that.
I was pregnant.
From that moment forward, I cried every day and tried to make sense of what was happening to me. The plan had been to save my salary for five years and then start a family. I was having a hard enough time just being married and managing my new career. Now, I was being forced to add motherhood to the mix.
I remember standing in my mom’s kitchen sobbing. On a good day, I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was calling me to leave my budding career to come home and raise my baby. But most days, the tug on my heart felt more like a failure than a calling. My mom had never put an ounce of pressure on me to follow in her footsteps, and yet I still felt like I would be letting her down if I didn’t build a successful career in education like she had done. I felt foolish for not being able to handle my pregnancy the way the rest of my coworkers did, working until the day they went into labor and back to work six weeks later.
What in the world was wrong with me?
I now know nothing was wrong with me. God was turning my life upside down so that I would learn to trust Him and love Him more. His chosen setting would be between the four walls of my own home, tucked away from the outside world. In a single day, He stripped me of my title, my paycheck, and my need for heels. Gone were performance reviews, meetings to attend, and deadlines to meet. Little did I know, the next fifteen years of my life would force me to face the truth about myself and answer one all important question from God over and over again: Do you believe I AM?
Do you believe I AM?
God often asks people this question in the Bible. In the book of Exodus, we meet a man named Moses. God used an overzealous moment in his life to transport him from pampered palace life in Egypt, to an extended stay in the desert of Midian—as a fugitive no less. Can you imagine the abruptness of going from living in the lap of luxury to wandering the desert in a single day? How that moment when he killed the Egyptian must have played over and over in his mind.
Forty years later, however, that course of events would lead directly to God’s divine assignment for him. Moses’ desert years positioned him for an encounter with God planned long before the foundations of the world. Even then, Moses would have to wrestle his fears within and learn to keep trusting the great I AM.
I had often assumed Moses must have needed those forty years in the desert to simmer his heart and make him humble enough for God to use him. In large part, I think that is true, of Moses and each one of us. But I recently noticed something as I was rereading his story in Exodus chapter 2. After he fled for his life and came to the land of Midian, he immediately encountered some women being harassed by scoundrel shepherds as they were trying to draw water from the well. Notice how Moses responds.
Exodus 2:17 says, “Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.”
Helping others in your Desert
Wow. The last thing I want to do when I am being pressed down by stressful circumstances is help others. I probably don’t even notice them. Despite his many shortcomings, Moses maintained a heart that was both God-focused and others-focused.
What about you, moms? Do you bend easily and adapt to inconvenient circumstances? When unplanned events come into your life do you pivot and pray with open hands, or dig in your heels and complain? If the latter more accurately describes you, repent and ask God to soften your heart to be like Moses and help you surrender to His will in your circumstances.
Here I am.
Scripture tells us, in Exodus 3:1, that Moses was in the back of the desert when God spoke to him from the burning bush. As if living in the desert for 40 years wasn’t hard enough, now Moses was hanging out in the back of it. It’s worth noting that Moses had gotten married and become a father by now. If I were him, I’m sure I would have found plenty of reasons to be cynical. Yay, a burning bush! Who cares! But Moses rose above resentment and the temptation to despair.
Exodus 3:3 says, “Then Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.’”
Notice what happens next.
“So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
“Then God said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’”
Holy Ground is here
Have you ever considered that the place where you are standing could be holy ground? God is paying attention to your life just like He’s been paying attention to mine, and just like He was paying attention to Moses. Fifteen years ago, God placed me in an abrupt desert experience, sequestered away from the world, because He loves me and wants me to bear fruit for His glory. Instead of coworkers and break rooms, He gave me babies and housework (and the title of “chaos coordinator”) to aid in my sanctification process. What has He given you?
You don’t need to be in a polished palace to have a God encounter. Wherever you are standing right now is holy ground—even if it feels like the back of a desert. In that place you have a decision to make. Will you look to the great “I AM” and say “Here I am”?
As you do, He will keep you on fire for Him and holy grounded.
Turning all of life into holy ground,
For more encouragement, follow Melissa’s blog @ melissagilmour.com. And for Mother Daughter Bible Studies to keep both of you grounded in God’s Word, check out Portraits of Womanhood @ https://heartofwomanhood.org/