November 22, 2011

Feeding a Baby

An alarm clock?  Who needs an alarm clock when there’s a baby in the room down the hall.  I pull the pillow over my head and hope that it’s just a dream.  But no, she seems to really mean it, as if she is screaming, “Feed me NOW!”
I drag my weary body out of bed, prepare a bottle of formula, and then hurry in to pick her up and soothe her before she wakes up the rest of the family.
Over the years of foster parenting, I have literally spent thousands, if not tens of thousands, of hours sitting in the rocking chair feeding a baby.  For someone who derives significant self-worth from noticeable productivity and to-do lists with check-marks, those hours seem like such a waste of time!   In my younger years I had grandiose dreams of being involved in life-changing ministries, having an influential role, making an impact on the world.  What happened to those aspirations?

There are so many activities that I could be doing instead . . . throwing in another load of laundry, picking up the toys off the living room floor, running the vacuum cleaner.  I can think of even more noble uses of my time, like being more involved at church or preparing engaging unit studies for my older children who learn at home.  And of course I could be using that time for things that I enjoy . . . catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee, catching up on my scrapbook albums, or catching up on desperately-needed sleep!  But here I sit, feeding a baby and waiting for her to become fully satisfied.

But wait a minute.  Is it really a waste of time?  Matthew 10:42 reminds me that “if anyone gives even a cup of cold water (or a bottle of warm formula, as the case may be) to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, he will certainly not lose his reward.”   I’m confident that this promise from God’s Word is referring to an eternal reward.  However, even on a practical level, it can be imminently rewarding to feed a baby.  Let’s face it, there aren’t many tasks in a mother’s life that exhibit measurable results.  I wash the dishes, knowing that there will be more after the next meal.  I tidy the house, again, and at the end of the day no one will really be able to notice what I accomplished.  I train and discipline and encourage my children, even when there is no visible change in their behavior or character.  But when I am feeding a baby, I know that every drop that goes into her tiny mouth is providing calories and nutrition to help her grow.  I must confess that I experience a small thrill when I am at the pediatrician’s office and I see that dot on the growth chart get higher and higher, knowing that I had a direct role in that!  It is a privilege to witness the physical benefits of my simple efforts.

Of course, those thousands of hours have eternal value as well.  Jesus promises in Matthew 25:40, ““The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’  I am doing this for the King!  I need to remember that there is just as much eternal value in feeding a baby as there is in leading a Bible study or going on a mission trip.   The only difference is that here in the rocking chair, there are no audiences or accolades or multitudes being influenced.  Just the one baby I am holding and the Lord who sees us.  None of those hours go unnoticed! 

Am I weary and do I long for more sleep?  A resounding yes!  Are there other ways that I could be spending my time, other goals that I could be pursuing?  Of course!  Do I struggle with envy over those other women out there who are doing something “important”, who are making a difference in the world?  Regrettably, that is a daily struggle.  But for this one baby, there is nothing more meaningful and significant than the task at hand.   To her, my current endeavor is paramount!  I am truly grateful that the Lord has given me the humble, private, worthy calling of feeding a baby.

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