There are a few books that have forever changed how I live, view the world, and think about God: The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, Man Alive and Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. And I’ve just added a new one to the list: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, by Gloria Furman.
I’ve never read a book that was so gospel-focused, and yet had so much relevance to every part of my life. Actually, that’s the point of the book: how the gospel is relevant to every part and every moment of my life, and how that helps me treasure Christ in all those moments. Not just including, but especially, the mundane and difficult ones.
The idea relate to all of us, but especially if you have kids, you will resonate with what she says:
“I want to hope in God when my kids wake me up before my alarm. I want to love God’s Word all day when I’m entrenched in the mundane work around my house. I want to meditate on God’s promises and praise him and remember him when I’m up with the baby at midnight and 3 a.m. (and 10 p.m., and 2 a.m., and 5 a.m. during growth spurts.)
According to Psalm 119, there is no time of the day or night when God’s Word is not relevant to our lives.” (page 54, emphasis original)
She shares about how her idea that relationship with the Lord requires time and solitude was totally shaken by the constant and unpredictable demands of new motherhood. I knew exactly what she meant when she said she’d feel as if the day was a wash, spiritually, if she wasn’t up before the family and spending time alone in the Word. But over time she came to learn that God is ready and willing to fellowship with us now, in the midst of life and work and mothering.
This book is not about using the gospel as a tool to become a better mother. It is about being so transformed by the glorious gospel that it changes our mothering as an outpouring of our trust in and worship of Christ.
Nowhere does she say, “memorize this verse and you’ll stop yelling at your kids,” or “grasp this gospel truth and you’ll never grumble about serving your family again.” She says, over and over, that these truths will help us image Christ as we serve — but that we will fail, and the gospel truth growing in our hearts will lead us back to the cross, where we find our only sufficiency.
The book is rich with Scripture. There are verses quoted and referenced on almost every page, affirming and expanding on what she’s saying. I loved that just as much as I loved what each page said.
She uses Scripture to battle the idea of “mommy guilt,” reminding us that Jesus’ atonement cleanses us not only from sin but from guilt.
“We tend to wallow in shame or scoff in cynicism over our inability to keep our hands out of the proverbial cookie dough…. Then we must boast in the gospel, because in it God mercifully gives us Christ to be our valued treasure. Things like ‘mommy guilt’ cannot crush us, because Christ was crushed on the cross in our stead. Jesus is our consistency; he fulfilled God’s highest expectations of perfection, and in him all the promises of God find their Yes. In him we find mercy in our time of need– which is always,” she writes.
I have read some sections of the book three or four times, and the only thing keeping me from a complete re-read is her new book, Missional Motherhood, which just came out. I really can’t recommend Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full enough. I hope it will fuel your worship and heighten your appreciation for the gospel as much as it has done for me.