I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have been blessed with great and godly women in my life. My grandmother, who I called mamaw, loved Jesus and loved me. She always gave me open arms and a full plate (usually filled with fried potatoes and cornbread!—made with lard, not shortening oil!). In later years her memory left her, but the memories of God’s love that she gave to me (and so many others) will stay with me all the days of my life. My mom, who I tend to call momma, is one of the greatest examples of Christianity that I’ve ever known. I’ve oft said that in the course of seminary and pastoral preparations I’ve listened to thousands of messages and read hundreds of books, but the testimony of my mom’s life and faith have preached to me more powerfully than them all. Her love, devotion, and sacrifice have blessed and continue to bless not only her family, but the family of God; not only me, her only child, but so many other children as she teaches them the FOUR R’s (reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and righteousness). My wonderful wife, second only to Christ, is the greatest joy that’s ever been bestowed upon my life. Before we ever dated I had prayed that God would send me a woman who loved Jesus more than anything, who would love me, who would love the family we would have together, and who would love the family of God. In sending My Love to me, He answered my prayer “exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I could ever ask or think.” Not a day has gone by in the 10 years of our marriage without her giving me a sincere embrace and without us praying together. She is not only our son’s mother, but she is his teacher. I can’t tell you the strength, comfort, and joy it gives me to know what kind of Christian example is set before our boy’s eyes every day. Many of those reading this newsletter know what a blessing she and her sweet spirit are to the church, but I can tell you there’s even more she does behind the scenes in love and service to Christ and His people. I could go on and on speaking of the godliness and witness that I’ve been so privileged to see from these three women. The world has downplayed the importance of moms and motherhood, but the Bible elevates the position to its rightful place. In this month’s newsletter we will look at three Scriptural examples showing us A Mother’s Way!
Hannah—The Way Of Prayer (1 Sam. 1:1-20)…Hannah was a barren woman. She saw other moms with little ones. She longed to have a child of her own. Her dreams were filled with the warmth of cradling a baby in her arms, the joy of hearing him coo, the blessed inconvenience of being awakened by his midnight cry, and the privilege of watching him grow. Yet day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year still found her childless. One day while on the family’s annual pilgrimage to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord, Hannah went to the tabernacle and began fervently praying for a son. She makes a vow declaring that should God in His providence remember her plight and give her a child, then she would dedicate him back unto the Lord and unto His service all the days of his life. Eventually, as oft times can happen in prayer and seasons of distress, her voice became mute as the volume of her heart grew ever louder. As John Bunyan, great and godly author of Pilgrim’s Progress, once wrote “in prayer it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.” Eli, the high priest of the time, saw Hannah praying. He judged from her weeping demeanor and from the sight of her lips moving but no words coming out that she must be intoxicated. Eli confronts her commanding she put away her wine. Hannah replies saying that she is not drunk but that her disposition is due to her soul being so troubled within her and her prayer being so desperate. The priest, though not the most upright man of God, prophetically speaks to her to go her way and asks the Lord to grant her petition. She did go her way, and Scripture records that “her face was no longer sad.” God did give her a son within the next year and Hannah followed through on her promise to dedicate the lad to the Lord’s service. She named him “Samuel” (which means “God hears”) because her petition had been “heard of the Lord.” The baby would become a boy and the boy would become a man and the man would be a man of God used to bring His Word, to anoint kings and to point to the King of kings who was to come. Thank God for a mother willing to follow the way of prayer!
The Shunammite Woman—The Way Of Power (2 Kings 4:8-37)…Her pride and joy was taken away all too soon. The prophet Elisha, as is the case with all true servants of the Lord, wasn’t used to getting a good reception everywhere. However, there was a Shunammite woman who recognized that he was a man of God. Every time Elisha was near her dwelling she would feed and house him. Eventually she convinced her husband, who was older in years, to build a room in the upper floor of their residence specifically for Elisha’s use when he was in their neighborhood. The minister wanted to bless the woman for being such a blessing and this resulted in a God-given prophecy that she would conceive a son even though her husband was advanced in age. Roughly one year later the word of the Lord came to pass and the Shunammite was given a bouncing baby boy. However, while her son was still a lad he was overcome by the heat of harvest time and died while lying in his mother’s embrace. (We’re not sure how old the boy was when this happened, but he was small enough that she could still hold him in her lap and carry him upstairs by herself). Rather than giving up in despair she immediately headed out to see the man of God. She came to him and bore her troubled soul. Elisha came to the boy and, in a scene so vividly pointing towards Christ who gave His life so that we who were dead could live, laid on top of the boy a first time and then a second until the lifeless lungs began to breathe, closed eyes began to open, and stiff limbs began to move. The Shunammite woman did not know why such tragedies occur, but what she did know was where to go when they do. Thank God for a mother willing to follow the way of power!
Eunice—The Way Of Preparation (2 Tim. 1:3-7; Acts 16:1-2)…Eunice was in a difficult marriage. To what degree we’re unsure for the Bible tells little of this woman and even less of her husband. So how do we know her marriage was a difficult one? She was a Jew and her husband was a Greek. Even if they had a deep and abiding love for one another and there were never any personal tensions between them, it’s likely that her family and certainly her culture would have put extreme pressure on her to avoid marrying a Gentile and her decision to do so would have been accompanied by severe scorn and disdain. We don’t know how much conflict there may have been between Eunice and her husband but we are told that Timothy, their son, was not circumcised. The only explanation for this is that his Gentile dad objected to the Jewish rite. To what extent Eunice may have been rebellious or ill-motivated in marrying a non-Jew we do not know, but thankfully we do have it recorded that somewhere along the line she, like her mother Lois before her, became a Christian believer. In fact her sincere faith was such a standout that the Apostle Paul appealed to it as a motivator to encourage Timothy, Eunice’s son and Paul’s protégé, to remain strong in the service of the Lord. Eunice lived a life that served as a sterling testimony and gave a theological core to her son that would prepare him to be a successful pastor and faithful understudy to a great Apostle. Thank God for a mother willing to follow the way of preparation!
Mary—The Way Of Praise (Luke 1:26-56)…Mary was a teenager. She no doubt was a godly young lady who loved the Lord and the things of the Lord. I’m sure she had dreams of being used by God for His glory and of making a difference in the world to which she had been placed. But never in the wildest of those dreams would she have conceived that she would conceive the Son of God, the very Word made flesh and dwelling among us. Mary’s life, like that of anyone genuinely in the Lord’s service, was no bed of roses. Scandalous rumors would plague all her days, for who would believe a Virgin Birth. Joseph almost said “I’m done” before saying “I do” but thankfully an angelic visitation enlightened him as to the truth of the situation. The family would be poor in the eyes of the world, the baby would be born in a lowly manger inside of a stable with animals, they would have to flee to foreign countries to escape Herod’s infanticide, there would be trouble with the half siblings who would follow as they would come to think of Jesus as a lunatic, the religious leaders would always hate her Son, the crowds would be finicky one day praising Him and another calling for His crucifixion, and ultimately that crucifixion would happen and the Baby she had nestled in her arms would have His hands and feet nailed to a cruel wooden cross. Truly, the Christ child would be a sword that would pierce Mary’s own soul (Luke 2:35). Still, even with all the hardships that she would bear, Mary praised God that He would use her as the vessel through which the Messiah would come and salvation be extended to all who believe. In the words of what we’ve come to know as “The Magnificat”, her soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior! Wanting no praise of her own (she would be horrified at the fact that some would offer prayers and praise to her instead of to Christ only), she came to know that the Child that she delivered would deliver her, and would deliver all of those who would repent of sin and put their trust in Him! Thank God for a mother willing to follow the way of praise!