May 8, 2005 - Mother's Day
Dear Paul and all the Wonderful Moms at Grace Fellowship Church,
Besides climbing up a greased fireman's pole backwards and blindfolded with your arms tied behind your back, there are few things more difficult in life than being a mom.
If any other job shared the same wages and hours... the government departments that monitor these things would be called in to shut the home down and arrest the husbands! I know of no other employment that demands you be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - even when you are on vacation! Mothering is in many ways like trying to fill up a black hole in outer space using a mop bucket and water pistol - endless! Not only that, you've got all this responsibility which no one pays any attention to - until you make a blunder. A mom is like a soldier in a nuclear missile bunker - nobody thinks much about her until she makes one little mistake! Then everybody and their pet ferret have an opinion.
Besides that, living in this silly generation, moms are told that they need to look like 19 year olds, have perfect kids, carry on a full social life, keep the home looking like a Better Homes and Barns photo shoot and work a full-time job (or at least perform a considerable amount of social service) outside of the home. Women that try to live this pipedream are either too stupid to be warned otherwise, or sadly susceptible to the plies of the devil.
Now all that might sound a tad discouraging if it weren't for the Lord. The fact is, there's much hope for the task of mothering if you are doing it as unto Him and in His strength. Since it is Mother's Day, I thought I might drop a quick note to encourage the mom's at Grace to keep at it! If there was ever a job that illustrated the true nature of good works - it is being a mom. And if there was ever a ministry that brought eternal reward, it is being a mom.
Now mothering has one qualification, having a baby. Once that is taken care of, you've got the job - like it or not! Perhaps that is why there are so many bad mothers - they don't like it! And it's tough to do well at a job you don't like. Everyone wants to drive the tractor, but somebody has got to slug the manure. Show me a farmer that can find some joy and satisfaction in the latter and I'll show you a man that has made some progress in following His Lord.
I mentioned before the strange Kimodo dragon - she'll eat her young the moment they hatch. Some human mothers are not much different. These human Kimodo's use their kiddo's for food like... their own self-esteem, or to impress other adults, or to look a certain way to their friends and neighbours. That's just weird. If you don't want the laundry then don't have the kids - that's my thinking anyway.
As far as it goes, I think mothering and gardening are first cousins. When a woman sets out to grow a garden, she must first ready the soil, then plant the seeds, then water and wait. Once the growth begins, then comes the long work of summer - the sweat of weeding and weeding. It's not till the very end of the season that she gets to see some fruit from her labours... and that only if the sun and rain and hail and pests and rabbits and soccer balls and thieves and all other enemies of garden-growth don't win the day.
You can see how mothering is much the same thing. First you ready the soil by getting married. You are blessed with a pregnancy and the child is born healthy. Then comes those lovely early days of growth... followed by the long summer of weeding out all the character flaws, sin patterns, and native foolishness in the heart. This summer period goes on for say, 18 or so years, before you start to see some fruit in the heart of your child. That is, if the devil and the child's own sinful heart have not crowded out your labours.
If a gardener gives up mid-way through the summer, he can't count on much in the way for fruit to his labour. I should know... I once had a garden and thought I had had enough of weeding by the end of July. It's true we did get a few tomatoes and the odd radish... but that was in spite of me.
Therefore, one of the first things I think a mom should be told is to not give up.
The long delay inherent in parenting, combined with the odd storm, personal failures and general fatigue, makes it no surprise that some moms have days they just feel like giving up. Where there is a Dad in the home, I think this is one of the primary jobs he needs to do - encourage his wife and keep painting the big picture. Sure, you may look at a woman and say, "She just needs to tell herself to keep at it and not give up." But those are hard words to say when you are all alone and the one doing all the digging! Even the best athletes have coaches that encourage them, and the best moms deserve the same.
Sure you've got lots to do in a day, Dad. But at least you were able to speak with semi-rational grown-ups in the last 8 hours! Think of mom, at home most of the day, constantly doing the same tasks over and over again, often with only the inane chatter of the youngest arrows from your quiver to serenade her... and in you walk and wonder why your dinner isn't ready?! Now, put your finger down and relax your shoulders... I only know because I've been there a hundred times myself. Fact is, though, we ought to cut mom some slack and worry more about helping care for those little ones we delightfully participated in procreating than harping about our hunger pains.
1 Peter 3:7
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker
vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Back to mom. Like I said, don't give up, moms. Look at your family like a garden. There will be days of sunshine and firstfruits... there will also be days of thunder and hail. The thing to do when running a marathon is keep the end in sight and not worry so much about everything in between. Old Harry Neale on Hockey Night in Canada always says "Nothing cures an injury like a powerplay." The same is true in parenting... keep the goal in mind and the little knocks and bruises along the way will fade into nothing.
Now I don't mean to beat this into the ground, but this idea of hope has a lot to do with prayer. So, I ask you moms: Do you pray for your kids? We usually give up when we feel like we can't do something. If everybody else has crossed the finish line, why keep running? Moms tend to give up when they feel they just can't get ahead or that those projects will never get done or that little Johnny or Mary will never change. Well, have you prayed about it? Of course you can't get it all done... and of course you cannot change John and Mary! But the Lord can do both and give grace to you and use you to do both. Part of being a mom that hopes is being a mom that prays.
Jude 20b ...pray in the Holy Spirit...
Now the next thing. It might surprise you to know that there is a command in the Bible that the older women need to teach the younger women to love their children.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach
what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure,
working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Now you would think that motherly love would be the most natural and spontaneous of all the loves in the world. But I am not so sure about that.
Sure, when that little one arrives there is most often an almost automatic affection between mother and child. (Between that child and everybody in the family for that matter!) But just as sibling-love does not always last, motherly-love (apart from grace) is prone to fade with time. Older women need to teach younger women to love their children. I suppose that means a lot of things - a lot of things that older women would know as opposed to me! But I could suggest a few for you to think about. How about, love your children more than your house. Love them more than your comfort. Love them more than your time. Love them instead of yourself, your dreams, your job, your career, your looks, your feelings of inferiority. At one very deep level, moms need older moms to teach them to love their children.
Work Hard Because it is Hard Work
Another thing. Moms need to realize that mothering is hard work. There is just no room for lazy mothers. I am not saying there are not any, but I am saying that adding laziness and mothering together spells D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. Listen to the mother of Proverbs 31 - she was no lazy buzzard:
15 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Here is a woman who was working hard all the time. No wonder King Lemuel said she was "more precious than jewels!" Here is a mom who took her job and calling seriously. And the fruit of that hard labour is the fruit that every young mom ought to pray for in her life one day:
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
So, a mom needs to hope, pray, love and work hard. But what exactly is it she ought to work hard at? What are her job responsibilities? Let me suggest a few.
She Needs to Train
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
One of mom's primary jobs is to train her little ones. This training goes from the gross to the sublime! Someone has to teach us not to pick our noses and someone has to help us understand Shakespeare. Mom gets both jobs. And the worst part is, she is expected to be an expert at both... well, at least with Shakespeare!
Moms are teachers and mentors. Generally, they spend more time with Johnny and Mary than anyone else and so they have to work very hard on their own character and sanctification since most living is caught , not taught . Mary learns from your walk more than your talk . And Johnny learns the saying early on: "The nun's habits teach more than her habit."
Moms also have to be observant. There's a difference between the cafeteria lady and your mother. Both make your meals, but one has a vested interest in your whole development. Mothers, you are given the job (with your husband if you have one) to lovingly observe your children in order to understand both their strengths and their weaknesses. As they grow older, you need to train them in the Truth of the Word, and in particular you need to address those areas of weakness with Bible-truth.
My momma knew I was a prone to being a man-pleaser, so she would, on occasion, point out to me how I was doing that and what the Bible had to say about it. She never nagged, but chose her times carefully and prayerfully - and even though the medicine was bitter, I was glad for it nonetheless. The thing about being young is that you rarely know how silly you look sometimes. There you are, all worried about some zit nobody can see but you under your intensifying mirror, when all anyone else notices is your awful tendency to exaggerate and lie. You need someone to turn that zoom mirror onto your heart, and one of the best people to lovingly and faithfully do that is mom.
She Needs to Prepare her Kids for Departure
Mark 10:7 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife...
In what might be one of the most difficult things of all, a mom has to raise her kids (her sons in particular) to leave one day. The union of two means the dis-union of another two. Now this is important. I have seen plenty of grown men jump at the sound of mommy's voice while they turn up the volume on the TV when wifey calls. This too is weird! If the apron strings are stronger than the wedding band, something must be done!
The marriage day is the severing of the mother/child relationship so that the child now belongs to another. No question that is hard to do. I won't go into the details, but we have had our share of trouble with this in our own family. What if you don't like who Johnny wants to marry? Worse yet... what if she doesn't like you? Well, these are real problems, no doubt. But they are problems with solutions when you trust in the Lord and do what is right. The first thing to get clear is that when the wedding bells toll that signals the end of your relationship with your child in one form. Things are different from there on out and pity the mother that is not ready for it... or worse, the mother that tries to keep it from happening. You can raise a coon for while in the barn, but soon you have to let it go in the woods - otherwise there is trouble for everybody.
She Needs to Mother the Motherless
Mark 10:29-30 Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life."
Not only does a mom need to love her own children, but there is a sense in which she needs to love everybody else's too - especially those that do not have a mom, or those whose mom is not a Christian, or those that are just going through one of those rocky times with mom and are thinking far worse of her than they really do when rational.
My best friend growing up was the only Christian in his family and that made it hard sometimes. But there were mothers in my church that loved him and made him a part of their families. For a young 12 year old lad like him, that was life. I often think that it also kept him out of a lot of trouble, knowing that he had 3 mothers at church to answer to on top of his own mom at home!
A Christian mom ought to see herself as ready to mother anybody in the family of God who needs it. There's a shortage of oil in the world... but the real crisis is the lack of love, not crude. Even Jesus was attended to by several mothers on top of his own:
Mark 15:40-41 ...Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem .
She Needs to Point Her Children to Jesus
The best thing any mother can do is to tell her children about Jesus in her words and actions. A mother who lives out Christ in front of her children is a mighty weapon in the hands of the Lord! I don't think there is anything else nearly as important as this. You moms ought to take your cue from Mary, the mother of Jesus, speaking to the servants at the Cana wedding:
John 2:5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Here is a mom's best advice and frequent reminder. This is what our kids need to hear more than anything, and what they need to see modeled more than anything. A mom's highest duty and most honorable task is to point her children to Jesus. This is far more than just getting little Johnny and Mary to pray some prayer one day and then cart them off to Sunday School. What the Bible talks about is having an infectious faith, so that, if it's not too irreverent, your kids can't help but "catch" Jesus from being around you.
Remember Paul's warm words to Timothy:
2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your
mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
What better testimony could you receive at the end of your life than your children gathering round your grave and saying, "She showed us Jesus!" Now think about that. Do you want them standing there saying things like, "She had such a nice home." "She taught me to crochet." "She never looked her age." "She sure kept busy all her life."
I don't think that is much of a choice. Nothing would bring you more joy than to hear that your children were walking in the faith and following in your steps. Imagine the joy of Moses with his faithful servant Joshua:
Joshua 11:15 Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
What will bring you the most joy at the end of your life? Surely it will be having a herd of children who have heard of Christ and are following Him with all their hearts!
So, my advice is to Hope, Pray and Love... then Work Hard by Training, Preparing Your Kids for Departure, Mothering the Motherless and Pointing Your Children to Jesus
The bottom line is, the role of momship is given by God and is to be discharged before Him. You answer to God for your mothering long before you answer to a husband or child your neighbour or Dr. Phil. God will never give you responsibilities that His grace will not supply for - the question is whether or not you will look to Him or try to do all this on your own. Sisters, don't be afraid - look to Jesus!
I am not a mother and never will be, but boy am I glad I had one. Your work is vital and earth-changing and not forgotten. Samuel, David, Whitefield, Spurgeon all had mothers - and so did Hitler. What you do and how you do it is of great importance!
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved [sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of
the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
And if you feel like giving up, like all mothers sometimes feel like giving up, go back and ascend to that heavenly Jerusalem with the words of Psalm 130:
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
2 O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel , hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
We thank the Lord for all of you, mothers. May God richly bless each one of you.
Your Honest Admirer,
P.S. The rheumatics are bad right now, but I felt constrained to say a word to those dear moms (so many of them!) down there in Toronto . It may be a while before I am able to write again, but I think of you all, almost all the time.