Here in the US, we just celebrated Mother’s Day, a day we set aside to honor our mothers that put up with the backaches, nausea, hormonal fluctuations, mood swings, new wardrobe requirements, and various other painful trials of pregnancy and delivery that I can’t even begin to understand, in order to bring us into this big exciting world. But if that weren’t enough, then there’s those years of caring for that precious new life, providing total care 24/7 at the beginning, then teaching us to take care of ourselves more and more, until we’re finally ready to head off on our own. They sacrifice so much, and pour such a large chunk of their lives into preparing us for our own lives as adults. A lot of times it takes many years, and the benefit of hindsight, for us to appreciate just how much they sacrificed for us. For me, Mom wasn’t just my mother, but also my school teacher, as I had the rich blessing of homeschooling from 1st through 12th grade. Having the same ornery, smart aleck student for 12 years is another testament to the supreme patience and perseverance of my mother!
Looking back, I think of the things I got from Mom. There were the genetic traits that I inherited from Mom (for better or worse). There were character traits like honesty, patience, integrity, and frugality, that I learned from her direct teaching and her consistent example. There was academic knowledge that she imparted as a teacher. There were those foundational life skills that one can’t go very far without. But there is something far greater than any of those that Mom gave me: she consistently modeled, day in and day out, what it was to be a Christian. While I credit her with jump-starting my love of reading from a very young age, the book I remember her reading the most was the Bible, hands-down. Mom sought out wise spiritual mentors and taught me to do the same. Mom was diligent in not taking me to church as a chore to check off the list each week, but rather as a loving duty [Heb 10:25], a joyous privilege [Ps 27:4], and a learning opportunity [Acts 2:42] many didn’t have. I still remember her writing encouraging letters to Christians in atheist Russia, imprisoned for their faith [Heb 13:3], and standing up for the innocent unborn, murdered by abortionists here in the US [Jer 22:3]. She backed up her beliefs with action.
Would I be a Christian today if Mom hadn’t been such an example? I would say that, in His sovereignty, God could’ve brought other people into my life to fulfill that role. But it wasn’t necessary, for Mom did “train me up in the way I should go” [Pr 22:6], and for that I am eternally grateful. The apostle Paul was right when he compared all his knowledge and accomplishments and status to mere rubbish compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ. [Phil 3:7-11] When she consistently pointed me toward Jesus, Mom directed me toward the One who surpasses all that I could ever desire in life.
When I think of my Mom, I remember the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy: “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” [2 Tim 1:5] Here we see a beautiful tradition of familial discipleship in Timothy’s family. It is unfortunate that we men so often forsake our leadership role, and place all the burden of spiritual discipleship on the mother of the family, but I thank God that so many of them over the centuries rose to the challenge and discipled us children well, preparing us not just for life, but for eternal life.
Of course, we are still responsible for our own decisions; our mothers can’t drag us into heaven against our will. But here’s what we can do:
- if you’re a Christian who grew up with a godly mother’s influence in your life, thank God for that head start you were given, and thank her if she’s still alive.
- If you’re a Christian in spite of not having a godly mother in your life, choose to give your kids the head start you didn’t have, and be that primary godly influence in their lives. Remember that the church’s responsibility is to equip you to do God’s work, at home and abroad, but discipling your kids is the duty of you, the parent.
- If you never had that godly influence in your life, and aren’t a Christian now, then ask yourself right now, “If Christianity were true, would I be willing to become a Christian?” If not, why not? I’ll warn you ahead of time – if you seek the truth, you’ll find Christ. And when you do, commit to being that godly mother (or father, grandparent, friend, mentor) that every kid needs.
- And lastly, if you’re that unrepentant child that a godly mother somewhere would like to drag into heaven with them, kicking and screaming, there’s room for gratitude on your part, too. You have a mother that loves you greatly if she desires your eternal salvation, and is willing to harass you about it. That’s tough love there, my friend. Give her a hug even if you vehemently disagree with her, but be forewarned: if she’s a Christian, she knows some real truth you haven’t caught on to yet. So mull over that question about Christianity being true above, and don’t be disrespecting yo’ mama!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!