Children Tie the Mothers Feet

Children Tie the Mothers Feet

The Sacred Call of Serving

by Leslie Ludy | May 1, 2011

Amy Carmichael, one of my greatest spiritual heroes, writes in her book Gold Cord about a crucial decision she made during her early days in India. She was at the peak of her influence as a missionary, writer, and speaker, and many big opportunities were opening up for her. But God begin to open her eyes, and her heart, to the countless children in that region who were in desperate need of rescue from slavery, abuse, and perversion. First one child came to live with Amy, then another, and another – until her mission base was filled to overflowing with precious young lives who were crying out for love, care, and spiritual training.

So she had to make a choice: should she turn these little ones over to be raised by others, or should she do the task herself? God had given Amy many unique gifts and talents. An entire country was awaiting spiritual revival. Huge opportunities awaited her; opportunities for evangelistic meetings, speaking engagements, and missionary conventions. She had the chance to influence thousands of people for Christ. Could it be right to walk away from all of that and instead pour all her time, energy, talents and resources into a handful of helpless little children? She wrestled intensely with the question. And soon the answer came, clearly and unquestioningly:

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God and went to God; he riseth from supper and laid aside His garments; and took a towel and girded Himself” (John 13:3-4).

She wrote:

He took a towel. The Lord of Glory did that. Is it the bondservant’s business to say which work is large and which is small, which unimportant and which worth doing? Children tie the mother’s feet, the Tamils say, and Bishop Paget said, ‘with the venture of faith there is need of self-discipline and effort.’ Babies are truly a venture of faith and, in India at least, they tie the mother’s feet. We knew we could not be too careful of our children’s earliest years. So we let our feet be tied for love of Him whose feet were pierced (from Gold Cord by Amy Carmichael).

I love efficiency. I can’t stand wasted time. I am an expert multi-tasker. When it comes to getting things accomplished, my motto is, “Why do only one thing when you could get three things done at once?” or “Why put it off until later when you could get it done right now?” Over the years, this approach has led to a highly productive life. It’s what has enabled me to write eighteen books in sixteen years, speak at thousands of conferences, launch the ministry of setapartgirl, and work alongside Eric to train and disciple young Christians for kingdom work.

But my amazing efficiency came to a screeching halt when God gave me four young children. Any mother on the planet could tell you that efficiency and young children simply do not mix. My toddlers have the uncanny ability to completely destroy (in less than five minutes) a room that took me an hour to clean. My little boy Hudson frequently “re-organizes” every single item in the schoolroom, thus requiring me to spend two hours revamping everything before I can function in there again. And all too often, I accomplish only one of the five things I had planned to do with the children on a given day, because one of them starts fussing and has to sit in time out for forty-five minutes until their attitude changes. It takes Harper a half hour to eat three bites of toast. It takes Kip twenty minutes to finally stop screaming in the bathtub so I can get his hair washed. And why is it that whenever I take extra time to dress the kids up for an event, one of them has a leaky diaper, another spits up everywhere, and still another spills grape juice all over her clothes?

Since having children, my efficiency has dropped dramatically. As the Tamil proverb says, “Children tie the mother’s feet.” That describes my life quite well. The more children I have, the less productive my life seems, and the more restricted my life becomes. My personal freedom is greatly diminished. My knack for “getting a lot of things done” is hampered. Even going to the grocery store has become a luxury that must be carefully strategized. And I can’t just hop in my car and run to the mall or coffee shop whenever the mood strikes. (In fact, I don’t even remember what that kind of freedom feels like!) “Alone time” doesn’t happen unless I get up well before the break of dawn. And in order to finish a project like cleaning out my closet or organizing the storage room, I must plan it about a month in advance in order to line up enough childcare help.

Gone are the highly effective workdays in which I write five chapters in a book, speak on two national radio shows, participate in four conference calls, and attend a three-hour planning meeting all in a twenty-four hour period of time. Now, I might spend an entire morning teaching Avy how to roll Play-Doh into a ball, setting up a treasure hunt in the backyard for Hudson, dancing to the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” theme song with Kip (I sing this in my sleep now), and examining a ladybug with Harper. Countless hours of every week are spent on picking things up and reorganizing rooms that I know will become messy again within days (or hours), and painstakingly baking special treats for the kids that I know will be scarfed down within a few minutes.

Less productive. Less glamorous. Less globally influential. Less important? No. In fact, quite the opposite is true. As Amy Carmichael says, “The Master never wastes the servant’s time.”

Productivity is not God’s highest goal for this season of my life; obedience is. Success in His kingdom is not measured by numbers of people reached, quantity of books written, or worldly accolades received. Rather, He says, “...whoever desires to become great among you, let him be a servant” (Matt. 20:26) and, “...whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42 ESV).

Taking the “lower place” of spending my best time, energy, and talents on my children is a way of serving the One who gave His life for me; the One who left His home in glory in order to wrap a towel around His waist, humble Himself, and tenderly wash my dirty feet.

It is a great privilege to allow my feet to be tied for the love of Him whose feet were pierced.*

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