Overworked: An Abundant God Divided for Us

On Harried Parenting and a Lavish God

Juliette Alvey / 7.20.20

There is no other word in the English language that is used to communicate such a wide variety of emotions as the word “mom.” Here are a few common uses:

Mommy! – When your mom picks you up from school and you’re excited to see her.
Mommy – Lovingly said with a hug and a smile.
Mom? – More like a verbal tic for any time you are wondering about anything.
Mom! – When you go to the farthest place possible in the house and realize you have a question or comment and expect Mom to come to you.
Mama … Mama … Mama … – When you’re a toddler and everyone else is talking so you want to participate, and when you finally get recognized you say, “Ummmm, ummmm, ummm.”
Maaa-om! – Turning this one syllable word into two, you whine about what your sibling is doing to you and expect Mom to tell them you’re right.
MOM!!! – Yelled in anger, this is used anytime something frustrates you — for example, a toy not working, a tag bothering you, a shirt you want to wear not being clean, the granola bar box being empty, etc.

The list goes on …

When I can’t laugh at the incessant demands placed on me, I feel like I might just completely lose it. My attention is ripped from one minor crisis to the next, all while trying to actually accomplish a list of tasks here and there and have a more-than-half-of-a-sentence conversation with my husband once in a while. I’m trying my best to give my kids the tools to be more independent and less needy, but despite my efforts it still feels like I am needed by everyone all at the same time. I am a mom divided. I am never able to give each person in my life enough.

I think many of us can relate to the problem of feeling divided. The pandemic has taken this feeling and multiplied it by 100. If we felt divided between our home and work lives before, it is no match to how we feel today. With the dilemma of what to do about school in the fall, many parents are feeling anxious about the thought of continuing to be full-time parents and full-time employees. How can we work full-time and be part-time teachers? The simple answer is, we can’t. “Hybrid” teaching is on the horizon, which means that children would attend school two days of the week and work remotely the other days. In other words, parents, teachers, and students will all be divided. While the school districts are trying their best to make plans in an impossible situation, the fact is that whatever plan is ultimately decided on, we are doomed to be hybrid people, broken into pieces that do not fully satisfy anyone.

We are crushed by the weight of not being enough, but the One who is enough for my kids, my husband, and every single person in this world is the all-knowing, ever-listening, omnipresent God. Of course describing God as “enough” always sounds too weak, as if he gives each one of us the bare minimum or our fair share. No, God is not fair. He is lavish, wasteful even! Paul says to the Ephesians, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (1:7-8).

Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine (Jn 2) is a perfect example of a “lavish” gift. He did not start his earthly ministry off with a small or practical gesture — healing a small cut here, giving a poor child a loaf of bread there. He started it off with a bang, a surprisingly extravagant gift. Jesus asked the servants to bring him six ceremonial jars holding 20-30 gallons of water each, and they brought these to him filled to the brim. He turned all of that water into wine. The master of the banquet, not knowing where the wine came from, described it as “the best.” 

In modern terms, how much was all that wine worth?

  • 6 jars x 25 gallons each = 150 gallons of water turned to wine
  • 150 gallons = 568 L
  • 5 L of boxed wine = about $15
  • 568 L / 5 L = 114 boxes of cheap wine
  • 114 boxes x $15 = $1,710

Therefore, if Jesus had made cheap boxed wine it would have been worth about $1,710. But Jesus didn’t make boxed wine, he made “choice” wine. 750 mL of expensive wine will run you somewhere between $100-$5,000 per bottle, which places the modern value of this miracle somewhere between $75,700 and $3,785,000!

However you crunch the numbers, this was an expensive miracle. Jesus’ gift was more than “enough,” it was extravagant.

Elsewhere, Jesus didn’t just feed 5,000+ people (Jn 6), he fed them extravagantly. When Jesus asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat, Philip responded, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite” (v. 7). Yet, Jesus took those five small loaves and two small fish, divided them between the 5,000 men (and all of the women and children accompanying them) and had twelve baskets left over after everyone had their fill! The math on this one does not add up.

The feeding of the 5,000+ points forward to Jesus’ own death. At the last supper, Jesus “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me'” (Lk 22:19). Jesus’ body was literally broken, and like the bread divided for the crowd of 5,000, there is an overabundance to go around. His blood, like the wine at Cana, does not run out and is more costly than the fanciest of wines. When Jesus’ body is divided and given to each of us, it does not make mathematical sense, and that’s good news.

Our God is a God of abundance who doesn’t balance competing priorities. He has all the time in the world. I try to give equally and be fair to all of my children (unsuccessfully). Thank God that He is not fair but rather lavish in giving His whole self to each of us.

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