Mothers’ Day is this coming Sunday, 3rd April 2011, and so I thought I would give you a talk I gave at the Mothers’ Day service at Wood Lane Baptist Church on 2nd March 2008.
2 Timothy 1:5
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
It was Sunday morning and her son still had not appeared at the breakfast table. She had tried yelling up the stairs: “Wake up and get down here!”
But there had been no response. Finally, she went up the stairs and opened the door to her son’s room and said, “You need to get up and get dressed. It’s time to go to church!”
“I don’t want to go to church,” her son groaned from under the covers.
“You can’t give me a good reason not to go to church, so get up!” his mum replied.
“Actually, I’ll give you three reasons. Number one: it’s boring. Number two: the people there are gossipy and critical. And number three: no one likes me. So why should I bother?”
“I’ll give you three reasons,” retorted his mum. “Number one: the Bible says you should go. Number two: you’re 45 years old. And number three: you’re the pastor! Now get out of bed and get dressed for church!”
Where would we be without our mums? Caring for us, supporting us, encouraging us, correcting us and loving us when it seems no one else will. Oh even nagging us or should I say persistently pointing things out for our benefit?
Many of us have been blessed with a good mum and equally importantly good grandmothers. Hallelujah!
However I am also aware that some of us have not had good experiences with our mums. In the work I do I get to hear all sorts of stories about family life. I met with Michael and Alan the other week to arrange their father’s funeral. Their mum had left home when they were five and three and it is over 30 years since they had seen her.
Our friend Joan was abused by her adopted father. Her adopted mother knew about but did nothing to protect Joan as she didn’t want to cause upset. Subsequently Joan and Bob adopted two little girls who came from an abusive family. Their mother would lay there and watch their stepfather abuse them.
I am sorry if these stories upset you but for many this is the reality of family life. And if I have touched any raw nerves come and see me so that these issues can be prayed through and we can seek God’s healing for you. God’s word tells us in Psalm 34:18 “ The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
So all over the country today mums of all ages are receiving cards and gifts. Some maybe get breakfast in bed or have lunch cooked for them. Any mum here had breakfast in bed this morning?
Its only right that we show our gratitude to these ladies who show such unconditional, self-sacrificing perseverance and commitment in being our mums. I know how much I owe to my mum Lily, how she cared for me and my four older brothers and how she fought our corners. With the benefit of hindsight I realise what she went through with myself and one of my older brothers, Ken, having long spells in hospital. Interestingly out of the five of us, it is Ken and I who God has called into ministry. It makes one wonder about the mysteries of suffering. I also know how much my oldest three sons appreciated her although sadly Josh was born some five months after she was called home.
Lets look at our bible reading. Here is Paul writing to his young protégé Timothy who is now a church leader. Not an easy task, especially for someone like Timothy who seems to not be very confident.
Paul could claim that he had a great deal of influence on Timothy’s spiritual journey. Paul called him his spiritual son 1 Corinthians 4:17; “For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” Philippians 2:22 “But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” and had not only included Timothy on his missionary journeys but had entrusted many assignments to him, including shepherding the growing church in Ephesus. It’s clear that Paul had invested much of his time in mentoring and helping make Timothy into a capable and useful leader.
Paul could have said “look what a good job I did training you” but instead Paul acknowledges the impact that Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice had on the young man. The seeds of his faith were clearly planted by these two godly ladies.
Very little is known about these ladies but in our imaginations we can perhaps picture them praying with the young Timothy, teaching his the scriptures and telling him stories of Jesus.
Being a mother is a challenging task but the rewards to a faithful one are great. I wonder if we can think of how Eunice and Lois must have felt as they saw him grow in faith and become a leader of the church.
The Bible has other stories of godly mothers: we can read about Moses’ mother in Exodus 2, Hannah the mother of Samuel in 1 Samuel 1,and the Canaanite woman who pleads with Jesus to heal her daughter in Matthew 15:21 – 28. And of course there is Jesus’ mother Mary.
I read the other day about another amazing godly woman who had such an impact for God. She was Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley. She gave birth to 19 children, several of whom died in infancy. She spent one hour each day praying for them. In addition, she took each child aside for a full hour every week to discuss spiritual matters with him or her. No wonder John and Charles were used of God to bring blessing around the world.
It makes you wonder if like many people today she had confined her dealings with God to popping into church on a Sunday as she was far too busy with the home and family to get involved with all that God stuff.
However Susannah Wesley was a godly woman and during a time when her clergyman husband was in London, defending a friend against charges of heresy, he had appointed a locum to bring the message. The man’s sermons revolved solely around repaying debts. The lack of diverse spiritual teaching caused Susanna to assemble her children Sunday afternoon for family services. They would sing a psalm then Susanna would read a sermon from either her husband’s or father’s sermon file followed by another psalm. The local people began to ask if they could attend. At one point there were over two hundred people who would attend Susanna’s Sunday afternoon service while the Sunday morning service dwindled to nearly nothing.
I wonder how many of us had mums who prayed for us? Mums who looked after our spiritual needs as well as our physical needs. I hear many stories of mums who heroically and sacrificially brought up their children and yet what did they do for their off springs spiritual growth?
“No man is poor who has a godly mother.” —Abraham Lincoln.
Perhaps I am fortunate that my mum used to pray at bedtime with me and my brothers when we were little. She took us to church, unfortunately not one where the gospel was openly preached, but it was more or less the only show in town. It was a start for us on our individual journeys of faith. It saddened me that my godmother who sadly I think was a churchgoer rather than a believer for many years, got led astray. She opened the door one day to the JW’s and believed them, asking them back to hold “bible studies” in her home. I think her family’s problems had their starting point on that fateful day. By the grace of God, my godmother came to faith but the damage had been done.
So, how many of us had faithful praying mums or grandmas?
The Bible tells us parents that we should be teaching and encouraging our children in the ways of God. In Deuteronomy 11:18 – 21 we read: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”
For us as parents in the 21st century we have so many resources for our children. If you have young children why not get them a good bible story book to read with them? Or what about praise tapes or CD’s to play in the car as well as at home? And of course you should be praying with them and for them.
As we thank God for the work our mums do lets not forget that us Dads have a role to play in the spiritual growth of our whole family. We can’t leave it to the ladies as they’re “good at that sort of thing”. Thinking back to my godmother, if my uncle had been a godly man he would been able to help my aunt see the JW’s for what they are.
So lets thank God for our mums and indeed all who have mothered us, all those ladies who have shown us God’s love either within the family or the church.
I am going to end with some words from Proverbs 31:26 – 31 ”She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”