The First Place
I vividly remember the moment the doctor placed my oldest daughter into the hands of my wife right after she was born.
It was 4 am in the morning on the tail end of a 20 hour labor process, in a bright hospital room insulated from the hazy, early morning darkness of downtown Baltimore.
The doctor caught my daughter and placed her tiny frame right into my wife's hands, and my wife pulled her close into her chest for warmth. My wife turned to me and the first words out of her mouth were "this can't be the last time I do this."
True to her word, three and a half years later our second daughter had her first moments out of the womb in the hands and arms of my wife.
Whether you are a mother, or if you have a mother, you likely have been acquainted with that first place of warmth and security.
From the moment of birth, a child finds her first home in the hands and arms of her mother. As a child grows and as a family grows, that first place of warmth and invitation expands to a place of glorious work.
The hands of a mother are full of this glorious duty. One hand consoles a crying baby while the other instructs an older child. One hand attends to the practical needs of a home while the other builds and creates. One hand provides wisdom and discipline while the other provides nurturing care.
King Lemuel in Proverbs 31 observes the whirling hands of a mother and celebrates them. Her hands and arms are busy and full of responsibility:
- "... she works with willing hands" (31:13)
- "... with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard" (31:16)
- "... she dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong" (31:17)
- "... she puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle" (31:19)
- "... she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy" (31:20)
- "... give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates" (31:31)
Of Good Things
The hands of a mother, the first place of warmth and invitation, become full of fruitful, praiseworthy, and good things.
The Proverbs 31 woman's work is diverse and directed towards a variety of pursuits. She honors her husband as a wife (31:12), she willingly works to create economic value (31:13,16,18,19), she nourishes the needs of her household (31:14,15,21-22), she compassionately cares for the poor (31:20) and teaches with both wisdom and kindness (31:26).
These works are all praiseworthy and good. Everything a woman receives from God ought to be stewarded well for His glory. And there's one work, in particular, when received from the Lord needs to be celebrated - the good work of raising children.
Children are "a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of a womb, a reward" (Psalm 127:3). They are the arrows, again in the hands of a mother-warrior (Psalm 127:4), who are being trained and equipped for their mission. They are the cosmic miracle knitted together in the mother's womb by the hands of a wise and good Creator (Psalm 139:13).
We need to continually reorient ourselves to the goodness of this work. Whether you are a new mother holding your baby for the first time, a busy mom of four engaged in the good work of your home, a grandmother holding the generational freshness of your children's children, or you are watching the women around you doing this glorious duty, you can celebrate the work of a woman who has her hands full of good things.