My toddler helps clean our floors with the vacuum attachment while I mop. Her growing interest in helping care for our home warms my heart. But since she’s still learning, my teaching method is simple: I clean an area to our standard and then send her in to work. Then we high-five, shouting, We're finished!
Similarly, God gives us work to do as we raise little ones. As we complete this work, it can be difficult to believe it’s meaningful. Spending our days doing things like potty training, boo boo kissing, and nose wiping seem necessary, but after a year of it, it can feel like we haven’t finished anything worthwhile. Because who's truly impressed when we load four kids into a car in under 90 seconds or clean up a blow out without damaging the changing pad? (I am. Every time.) Too often, it can feel like anything else would be more life-changing or wonderful than the daily work in front of us. When we consider what the world says is important and worthy of posting online, things like mopping floors seem insignificant. It can feel like all the work we finish is only to meet our children’s basic needs. It doesn’t scream a year’s worth of finished accomplishments. It doesn't feel holy or eternal.
But God prepared the work before us, which means making lunches and scrubbing toilets can become eternally important work. He uses everyday activities and moments to bring about his plans and glory. He wills and works in all things for his pleasure and our good. And since God prepared these works, his standard remains: perfection. Like my mopped floors, the work isn’t finished until the standard is met. But God knew we weren’t going to perfectly finish the work laid before us, so he did it on our behalf. Jesus’ life met God’s standard of perfection for us, and he carried the full weight of our sin on the cross in order to give us his record of perfection. When Christ’s suffering for our sin satisfied God’s wrath, Jesus cried out, It is finished!
In our work, God sees Jesus’ perfect record instead of ours, so we can faithfully finish good works without fear or condemnation. Because of Jesus, God uses our work to transform, grow, and teach us according to the power of the Holy Spirit. The work we finish is good, but it’s also fully dependent on the finished work of Jesus. Because even as we do good works, we don’t do them perfectly. We get up in the night to care for a newborn, but we grumble when our feet hit the floor. We diligently care for our homes, but we’re irritable at the first sign of a mess. We spend much of our time teaching our children, but we worship momentary relief through our televisions or phones. We finish good works, but we need Jesus to meet God’s standard for them.
When my toddler goes into the kitchen to vacuum, I know she won’t vacuum it perfectly. But I already mopped it, so she doesn’t have to do it perfectly or worry about upsetting mama. The work she does matters as she learns to care and contribute in our home. But my expectation for the cleanliness of the kitchen isn’t fulfilled by her ability to work; her work is for her benefit, but my work met the standard.
That cry of finished victory changes everything for the mom who trusts in Jesus. By God’s grace, the good works we do are evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit at work in us; he uses the work finished in our homes to change our hearts and renew our minds. Even if we’re unable to see exactly how God uses it, our days are full of meaningful, eternally worthwhile work.
If you’re also looking back on the year wondering if any of the work you finished meant something, know that, by God’s grace, it did. Today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and through the end of the ages, he will continue to complete the work he started until his full glory is revealed and he cries out, It is finished!  All our work in motherhood is used by God towards this end; everything he does in us, for us, and through us will finish with a triumphant high-five celebration of God’s finished new heaven and earth.
So, this year was a fruitful one filled with good work, because God is faithful to his people and his glory. Hair combing, dish washing, tear wiping, homework helping, and, yes, floor mopping may be what made up most of our days, but it was all work we finished to the glory of God. And because he loves us in Christ, he used every moment of our work this year to change us from one degree of glory to another and will continue to do so every year until we all joyfully cry out, It is finished!
Autumn Kern is the Content Manager for Risen Motherhood. She’s the wife of a sometimes bearded man and mother to a hilarious toddler lady and a jolly little fella. Autumn likes early morning walks that end at coffee shops, jovial conversations, and reading too many books at one time. You can find her microblogging about the gospel on Instagram and asking questions about its implications on Carbon Ribs.
Phil. 1:6, Rev. 21:6