Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

Conforming to the Likeness of Christ

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14)

The house looks like a strong wind whipped through. School books jumbled on the floor. Crumbs from breakfast toast peppering the countertop. A stray athletic sock has been under the dining room table for two days, and it probably won’t move anytime soon.

The chore list is longer than what I have energy for. And this is just the physical house, not the more important tending of the beating hearts that live inside.

It’s a lot for one mama to do.

“Mom, will you take me to work out at the gym?”

“Mom, will you bake cookies for my club meeting?”

“Mama, my shoe is lost. Is it OK to ride my bike with just one?”

A mother's hands tying a young boy's shoelacesThen there’s the cooking. The laundry. The driving to practices and meets and games. If I think about it all, the weight of it can lay heavy on my heart.

I can easily feel overwhelmed. Stretched thin. Pressed in too many directions and pulled in too many ways. If I look at the needs, I forever feel that I’ll fall short.

It’s then that I look to Jesus.

It’s then that I imagine him, standing on the shore, tending a great crowd. He’d just learned of the death, the murder, of his cousin John. And he’d gone to find some solitude.

Maybe he was moving away from Herod. Maybe he withdrew because his time hadn’t come yet. Maybe he was seeking some peace, some quiet time to nourish his soul.

But the crowd followed and found him. Sought him out. Surrounded him. And Jesus, seeing the hearts and needs and the lives, moved away from the boat and toward them.

He had compassion on that crowd. He rolled up his sleeves and taught. Healed. Served. Even provided food to the crowd of 5,000 when evening came.

So today, as I’m feeling a little pressed, I think of the Lord. And I cling to the thought that when I’m serving, when I’m giving all that I have to others, perhaps I am as close as I can be to the heart of Jesus. Maybe this is a gentle conforming, a dying of self, a clinging to life–life that only he can give.

And this purpose, this bending of the soul, it brings a gentle wave of peace.

It brings sweet joy.

The house still needs an overhaul. My dear boys will still have needs. I’ll delegate and divide chores and enlist helpers and press through things the best that I can. Some things we’ll accomplish today. Some will have to wait.

But I believe, if my heart’s desire is to conform to the likeness of Christ, that servant motherhood is a very dear thing.

Lord, let me serve my family today with peace and honor and joy. Amen.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.