Do you ever feel like some of your dreams are on hold because your life is entrenched in – kids? Maybe it occurs to you that some of your God given gifts are not even being utilized? Maybe sometimes you wonder what you might have accomplished if you weren’t drowning in diapers and car pools? I am long past the days of raising little ones but I gotta’ tell you..I get it. I truly do.

Many years ago I was scrambling around trying to get three little kids ready for church so that we could hear our favorite pastor give the sermon. We scratched and clawed our way to church, threw the kids in their classrooms, and I sat down to be ministered to…or so I thought. What he said that day almost tipped me over.

Now, maybe he didn’t actually say what I thought I heard. Or maybe I was oversensitive because it was 9:00 in the morning and I was already exhausted and wished that I could go back to bed for the day. Maybe it was because after we were leaving church I was having my husband’s entire family over to celebrate his mom’s birthday…I just can’t be sure.

I listened intently to this favorite pastor of mine hoping that he would have a word for me when he had the nerve, the nerve, to string a few choice words together that came out something like this, “A mom’s job is to be a strong ladder for her children so that they can climb the steps on her back to one day become successful adults and to eventually fulfill their call.” That’s what I heard…and this is what I did in my mind and in my heart.

I imagined walking up to him and pointing my finger right in his face and saying, “How about YOU try being the ladder, preacher boy?? Looook at you all crisp and cleaned up with your ironed clothes and your nice shoes. Easy for you to say. Who do you think slaved away and got that done for you? And where is she today? I don’t see her in her usual spot. All YOU had to do was step into your shoes, walk out the door, and show up here at church. I am pretty sure she is at home trying to wrestle your three sons into their church clothes and trying to keep fights from breaking out. Or maybe she is already in the nursery helping with the toddlers while you stand here talking about ladders. Sounds to me like your message is more about being a doormat than a ladder. Don’t YOU DARE tell me that I need to be a ladder…”

Yep. That was me. Sometimes it was a hard pill to swallow thinking that my life career was to be a SAHM (I think that’s what you call it today?) and a poop-cleaner-upper and a fight-breaker-upper…or a ladder. (…said with great disgust)

But I heard another story that has a far nicer tone and is so much worthier than my pathetic little story about ladders and doormats. It’s about beans. I much prefer the bean story.  I do hope you have it in you to keep reading because I think this story is really, really important to every mom who has ever felt wistful about some unfulfilled dreams. It’s a short, seemingly obscure story found in the Bible about a guy named Shammah. Have you ever heard of him? Yeah…neither had I. But when I heard his story it literally grabbed hold of me and stuck to my soul and it has never left me.

The story of Shammah is found in 2 Samuel 23. Shammah is famous for being one of David’s mighty men. These were a group of highly trained soldiers who fought with David and aided him in his victories. Shammah was also one of three men who served as David’s personal bodyguards. Yep! Shammah had a big job – BIG. HUGE. I mean…he was one of David’s top dogs. Their many exploits are described in the Bible.

As the story unfolds we come upon a time when we read that Shammah’s sole job was to guard the beans. As I read that I am saying to myself, “Seriously? This guy is a trained warrior and he has to stand at his post and guard beans? All day long – 24/7?” (They were actually lentils, to be exact) Ok…whatever. Let’s keep going.

So one day while Shammah was standing in the heat of the day just minding his beans, the Israelites came under attack and the Philistines were upon them. Now at this point I would have thought that Shammah would immediately be sharpening his sword and getting ready for action. I mean – who gives a hill of beans – about beans? But no. Even while all of the the other soldiers were in the heat of battle, nothing could budge Shammah from his beans. This talented, courageous,  and brave leader, diligently and shamelessly stood watch over the beans.

As the battle raged on, the Philistines began to gain ground until finally the Israelites ran for their lives and the troops fled. But not Shammah. That guy stood all alone and continued to guard his beans. Ridiculous don’t you think?

Want to hear how the story ends? Here – let me give it to you directly from the Word.

But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord wrought a great victory. – 2 Samuel 23:12

Do you see what I see? Victory was wrought because Shammah was faithful to the simple and mundane task of guarding the beans. He stood right in that field of beans and did what God had asked of him. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t pursuing what he had trained and worked so hard for.  It didn’t matter that he wasn’t out where all the action was.

Sometimes what God calls us to do is radically ordinary.

There is a battle raging out there…and victory can be wrought in our homes. Battles are won with everyday acts of faithfulness. Changing a diaper, ironing a shirt, cleaning the house, and managing the daily calendar…guarding the beans. Advocating for one child and offering encouragement to another…guarding the beans. Creating a warm atmosphere in the home…guarding the beans. Loving your husband well...guarding the beans.  Helping your kids to face their battles…guarding the beans. Training them up to be warriors for Christ…guarding the beans. 

Being a mom can be hard. It’s easy to feel inadequate when others are out there doing their great and mighty works. But the most important work you will ever do is right there in your home.  Right there under your roof.  Right there all tucked away in bed.  Right there on the ball field.  Right there on graduation day.

Please don’t get your undies in a bundle about all of the great things that you could be doing.  Do what is right in front of you and do it well until God calls you to something else. That day will come…I promise.

But for now…

Don’t let anything mess with your beans.

In the very place where God has put us, whatever its limitations, whatever kind of work it may be, we may indeed serve the Lord Christ.” – Elizabeth Elliot

Until next time,