I've been getting some real life lessons from this verse over the past year:

"Yet she will be saved through childbearing- if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self control." {1 Timothy 2:15}

It's a mysterious one... Bible scholars have been looking into the context, diving into the Greek, and picking apart the precise meaning of each pronoun and verb for a long time. Yet it's still puzzling, because we know that the act of childbearing isn't a means of personal salvation. The bible is exceedingly clear that salvation is a gift of grace, not of works; "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast". {Ephesians 2:8-9} 

So what, then? How do those of us who happen to be moms have the potential of "being saved through childbearing"? I'm no bible scholar and I certainly don't have an edge on any expert interpretations. But I do know that Lord has been putting this verse in front of me a lot lately, and there's one particular word that keeps sounding in my mind; "if".  

In my day to day life as a mom to two little boys, there is a lot that hangs in the balance with that "if". But before I go into it, let me give you a quick overview of my last year in motherhood. Have you ever had a time when you've walked through two very different, but very difficult seasons that happened to be back-to-back? That's been me lately. First it was the deployment, where I learned what it meant to be the sole caretaker of two little boys through change, stress, sleepless nights, sicknesses, isolation, and plenty unexpected circumstances. Then Thane finally got home {praise God!}, and we were so ready for fun-filled days of traveling and relaxing and getting to know each other again. But he was barely home for a week before I found myself so drained that all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. I assumed it was just all of the change and excitement, but a few short weeks later we found out we were expecting! {More on that here and here.} I've been wanting another baby since Silas was an infant, so of course this was thrilling news. We just didn't expect it to happen so fast, and the transition from deployment life back to normal life was far from the honeymoon we'd anticipated.

So, between the deployment and the first trimester of this pregnancy, there were so many tough days where I honestly just wanted to throw in the towel. Where the limits of my patience and sanity felt pushed to the edge. But throughout it all, 1st Timothy 2:15 kept coming to mind. Especially that little word "if":

"Yet she will be saved through childbearing- if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self control."

Practically speaking, we know childbearing doesn't do anything to secure our eternal salvation. I think all of us believing moms can agree that the act of bearing and raising children does nothing to bring out any inherent righteousness in us. If anything, our kids are the ones who throw our own selfishness into open light. They're the ones that require more personal sacrifice than we've ever had to muster, and they're the ones that show us more clearly than anyone that we can't do it in our own strength. Which brings me to the main point; do you know what this verse did do? It gave me the encouragement to press on in those grueling moments of motherhood. And in those grueling moments when my imperfections as a mother were most obvious, the Lord reminded me that it's not about any measure of my own ability. It's about leaning on Him and letting His strength work in my weakness. About letting His power prove the very work of sanctification and salvation that He so graciously continues in me daily. When I- imperfectly, but as best as I can- persevere through the weariness and frustrations of motherhood in a spirit of "faith and love and holiness, with self-control", He forges those things in me. He uses the very things that show my lack of righteousness to work righteousness in me. The tenuous nature of childbearing and caring for my children trains me daily to die to self. Day by day, little by little, I learn to lay down my own desires in order to love my children like Christ loves us; unconditionally and sacrificially.

And this what proves I belong to Him: "if", with the help of His Spirit within me, I can "continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control", then I am bearing the fruit that is the mark of the true believer. This verse isn't addressing a "one time" harvest of fruit though. It's addressing the long term endurance and faithfulness that our Father cultivates and requires throughout the lifetime of all of His children. The "if" is the daily reminder for all of us Christian moms to get on our knees and ask for help with shepherding our children. For the strength to show them the unfailing love that He so consistently shows us. To show them Christ in us.

I am so so thankful that I've come to the end of a tough couple of seasons in my motherhood. But I don't want to forget what the Lord taught me through it. I don't want to get "comfortable" now that things have gotten easier, only to forget the lessons I learned this past year and start flailing as soon as the next challenge comes. So my prayer for myself and for all of you beloved Christian moms is that we'd seek His guidance and rely on His help every single day, in good times and in bad. That we'd cling to Him no matter what today looks like, and trust Him to see us- and our sweet children- through.

Note: Salvation happens in two ways; in our first moment of faith, we are justified in the sight of God. Our sin is forgiven and we are forever His child. {See Romans 3:24-26} Secondly, we are saved through sanctification; an ongoing process of learning to repent of sin and follow God's commands for righteous living as defined in the bible. {1 Thessalonians 5:23}

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