For many people, the topic of relationship with their mother is pretty difficult. In the depths of our beings, we each long for a mother’s approval, acceptance and love–but for so many, that has not been a reality. I actually know quite a few people who spend Mother’s Day weekend each year hiding and avoiding, just waiting for the storm to blow over.
But, I want to share a secret with you:
God loves you with a mother-heart.
From the beginning, God intended for us to be nurtured in a family with a loving father and mother. Just look at the original design in Genesis. The Trinity–Father, Son and Spirit–were all present at Creation. The Trinity discussed it and said, “Let us make man in Our image…”, and so they did. God scooped up the dust of the earth, formed it into the shape of a human being, breathed life into it and created man–a being that looked like God and operated in a multi-level existence like God. But as the man Adam surveyed all of God’s created beings, he could not find anyone else like himself to share life with. So, God decided it was not good for Adam to be alone. God caused Adam to fall into a deep, anesthesia-like sleep so He could perform Divine surgery, removing a rib to fashion woman.
As They fashioned woman, the Trinity also rearranged the heavenly DNA they had imparted to Adam, separating characteristics–leaving some for Adam (masculine) and moving some into Eve (feminine). Adam kept, among other things, his decisiveness, desire for adventure, concrete thinking, and upper body strength (wink); Eve received, among other things, softness, the ability to nurture, multi-tasking, and fashion sense! (wink, wink)
What once was contained completely within man was now separated into man and woman, male and female. The representation of God on the earth was no longer man by himself, but man and woman united together as one. This is God’s original design and how He determined to represent Himself on the earth.
(*Obviously, some men also display characteristics that would be traditionally considered “feminine”, and some women display characteristics that would be traditionally considered “masculine.” The point here is that all these characteristics were embedded in humanity by God, but not one gender contains the whole representation.)
I believe wandering from this foundational concept is a major reason the Church has been crippled for the past 1500+ years–we have been satisfied to present only part of the image of God to the world, negating and suppressing the other half. The Church has not operated in the fullness of God’s power because we have continually ignored His original design, accepting the religious tradition that only men should lead, teach and mentor. That time is over. It is time for the world to see a complete representation of God: man and woman together, bringing God’s kingdom to earth.
That background sets us up to see into God’s nature a bit more, and what I mean when I say that God loves you, not just with a Father-heart, but also with a Mother-heart.
God is a nurturer. God reveals this all throughout Scripture:
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…”
More than 50 times in Scripture, God revealed Himself as El Shaddai. Most of the time, the name El Shaddai is translated into English as “God Almighty”, but that does not reveal the true meaning of this name. The Hebrew word “Shaddai” depicts a mother nursing a baby at her breast, supplying what the baby needs, caring for the baby and satisfying its hunger. When you add the “El” in front, God is introducing Himself as The One Who Is Mighty To Nourish, Supply and Satisfy, just like a “heavenly Mother.”
“God also said to Moses, ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty‘…” in Hebrew, El Shaddai.
The first mention of El Shaddai in the Bible is actually in Genesis 17 when God came to Abram and Sarai, changed their names, and told them Sarai would conceive a son.
Genesis 17:1-8, 15-21
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.’
“Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.’”
“God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’”
“Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!'”
“Then God said, ‘Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.’”
At the time God appeared to Abram and Sarai as El Shaddai, they had been very busy making a giant mess of things. Years prior, they had received God’s promise to make them into a great nation, but had seen nothing happen. Over time, they ran out of faith and decided to take matters into their own hands. Sarai was not able to conceive a child, so according to the custom of their day, she gave her servant Hagar to Abram to conceive on her behalf. Hagar did conceive and had a son with Abram whom they named Ishmael. Abram and Sarai tried to force God’s promise into their reality using their own intellect and willpower. Sound familiar?
God appeared again to Abram, announcing, “I am El Shaddai.” In this name, God provided what they desperately needed: nourishment for their souls, a new dose of faith, nurture for their wayward hearts. By changing their names, God introduced “h” – a character in Hebrew denoting “breath” and “spirit”–essentially pouring out His Spirit on them. This Holy Spirit “baptism” is exactly the agent by which the promise was finally fulfilled! Their willpower and even their faith was not enough to force God’s promise; but the power of the Holy Spirit sure was. El Shaddai satisfied their longing, satiated their soul-hunger and supplied everything they needed to see the fulfillment of His promises. He mothered them in that encounter.
Another really interesting look at the feminine in God’s nature: In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for this person Adam needed is “ezer”, translated “helper.” And, an equivalent word in Greek, “parakletos”, is used for the Holy Spirit all through the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is called the Comforter and the Helper–highlighting traditionally feminine qualities!
Our God is not only a good Father—He is also a good Mother, and is able to nourish your soul, to supply you with whatever you need in life (at every level–body, soul, spirit), and to satisfy your deepest desires.
Even Jesus expressed His heart in mothering language:
Luke 13:34 NLT
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
A loving relationship with a mother is what we all desire deep down in our hearts. If that has not been the case with your biological mother, God can bind up those wounds and make you whole. Why not give Him the chance? Let God mother you and wrap you up right now in the Holy Spirit–the Helper, the Comforter.
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…”