Summary: When we study the mothering side of God, we discover a God who yearns for intimacy with us. This Holy One longs to be close to his people as a mother longs to be with her child.
Last week we looked at God as our Father, and for everyone here that’s not a very hard concept to get your head around. We have heard it, read it, and even sung it. While we are comfortable with talking about God as a father, many of us may break out in a sweat at the suggestion that he is also like a mother.
Tonight I want to assure you that I am not making an attempt to be politically correct. I would much rather be biblically precise. As Oswald Chambers has written, "The mothering affection of God is revealed all through the Old Testament."
Furthermore when we say that God is like a mother just echoes what the scriptures teach about our God. Keep in mind that we’re working with metaphors scripture compares him to a mother eagle, a lioness, a womb that gives birth, and a mother hen watching over her chicks.
God is not human so to try to only think of Him in human form limits the greatness of God. After all we are told that God is a father, a mother, a shepherd, a king, a fire, a shield, and a rock. These words provide comparisons for us to help us understand who this Almighty One is and what he’s like. Each image has its limitations, of course. For example, there are ways in which God is like a father and other ways in which he’s not. Our task is to discover out of the many possibilities what that metaphor is intended to tell us about God.
Much of my discomfort , and I am sure yours as well, in comparing God to a mother is that we have tended to conceive of God as a male-even though God clearly is neither male nor female. Scripture helps us understand God by using both masculine and feminine language. Even when he’s called a father, we’re dealing with a metaphor. God is not flesh-and-blood! But the language of fatherhood evokes many truths that are appropriate to who God is and to the nature of our relationship with him.
Tonight I do not want to ignore or "explain away" the feminine metaphors. We have a Bible professor in one of our Universities who is an avid student of medieval literature and believes that the worship of Mary in the Catholic Church stems largely from centuries of failure to study and appreciate these feminine metaphors.
The church has been left with a lopsided, masculine picture of God, Those in the Catholic Church needed Mary as an avenue to express the godly traits of compassion, acceptance, and nurturing.
When we study the mothering side of God, we discover a God who yearns for intimacy with us. This Holy One longs to be close to his people as a mother longs to be with her child.
Here is an area where Trista has a distinct advantage over me. For nine months she carried the boys in a warm, safe, cozy place. I don’t believe that their life will ever be that secure again.
By the time that the Boys got to see my face it was the worst day of his life! He was forced from his place of sanctuary, spanked, wiped roughly with a towel, given a shot, had blood taken, placed under bright lights, poked and prodded, talk about a rotten day. But then the child decides he may survive when someone hands him back to Mom and he hears the familiar sound of her heart beat, the soothing sound of her voice. Again, he is close and secure.
I believe that this picture is painted for us in the last chapter of the book of Isaiah when God speaks of his people returning from exile. Turn with me to Isaiah 66:7-8 and lets read this beautiful portrait of Mother Zion receiving her children:
Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Isaiah 66:7- 8
Then if you will go down 5 verses the picture changes to a mother comforting her children:
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you win be comforted over Jerusalem. Isaiah 66:13
Aching to Be Near
In Psalm 131:1-3 the psalmist compares our relationship to God to that of a weaned child with its mother:
My heart is not proud, 0 LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. o Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.