As a child I always loved watching my mom bake a pie. To me it was like watching a fine art in progress. The precision of the ingredients, the exact rolling out of the dough. My favorite part was when she would shape the pie crust with her thumb. Scalloped u-shapes would form around the entire pan like Michelangelo sculpting his David. Then she would place it in the oven and soon the smell would float through the kitchen to the entire house. I could never have any of the pie because it was always for company. But regardless, I enjoyed the process.
Mother is a term that can evoke so many different images. Typically these are images of love and nurture. But for the world today mother can be such a meaningless word. Some children have abusive mothers, mothers in jail, mothers addicted to drugs or even two mothers. Some mothers beat their children and some even commit the unspeakable by murdering their own flesh and blood. Some mothers reverse the role by trying to be their child’s friend rather than the parent. The family unit crumbles as the role of mother becomes meaningless and void. So the anarchy of minds prevails resulting in an overindulged society that doesn’t know discipline or fortitude. It’s the Garden of Eden gone amuck.
On the other side of the antithesis lies the church. Surrounded by this chaos, but by God’s grace not a part of it, the church holds certain precious truths that are worth dying for. The truth of God’s word, the work of his Son, the fellowship of believers and mothers. They are a crucial part of the church and a beautiful manifestation of how God cares for his people. We are not thrown into this world in a cruel wind on a rainy night left to flounder like fish gulping for air on dry ground. Neither do we incubate in eggs, hatch on our own and waddle off precariously into the jungle of life. God created the role of mother to show us that he is a nurturing God who loves the people that he calls his own.
Where you perhaps looking for the benevolent hand of God the other day and despaired because you couldn’t find it? Then perhaps you should have thought of your mother. That God is his infinite wisdom should ordain such a role is evidence that God truly loves his people. He wanted us to be raised by a loving hand and a helping heart, by chastisement that would guide us and by feet that would walk us into the sanctuary of the church. He wanted us to be raised by mothers who would tell us the story of the cross, of saints who walked by faith and not by sight, and of a better place to come than the world we live in now. My mother loved me because God first loved me in eternity through the work of his son. She spent so many of her years sacrificing for me because Christ did it first on the cross. She instructed me in truth because God commanded it of her. She taught me that my greatest calling was to love God and to be a member of the church that taught his truth.
Perhaps you read this with a scowl on your face. You never had such a mother as this. Perhaps you lost your mother when you were quite young or had a mother who in many ways was no mother at all. Though mother was for you not a physical person, the concept of mother (the love, nurture, and warmth) has always been yours in eternity. The Shepherd of the flock speaks specifically to you. For you who have suffered the loss of mother he gathers into his arms, into the eternal embrace of secure salvation. Mother to you is a higher concept reflected in the divine nature of the Trinity.
When I think of the God’s wisdom I often think of the mother that he choose for me. No other mother would do. She is a perfect fit. That’s how it is for all our mothers. No, they are not perfect. They never will be in this lifetime. But they are the perfect fit for us because God chose them in eternity to play that role in our lives, to be a part of the things that work to our salvation. Whether your mother played the role well or not, whether she was the rock that the waves crashed against or the grains of sand that shifted in the sea waters, she was the mother that God choose for you. And for that fact alone you have no need for another.
Yet sadly we often describe a mother’s job as thankless, as if we are content in using such an adjective to describe this high calling. It is as commonplace as any cliché, mother and thankless walking hand in hand, never seeing the one without the other. The world takes their thankfulness and crams it all in one day. That’s very typical of the world. They often have to set the moral alarm clock of their minds to go off at a certain time to remind them to think of another. Oh yes, they say, it’s Mother’s Day. I’ll have to send my mom some flowers. And then they go on living as before in selfishness and moral disarray.
It has to be different for us who are believers. Because of the grace of God it has to be different. Our lives are living thank you cards that we send to each other every moment when we are able. We live to serve and show gratitude to those who sacrifice for us. And if you think of those who have sacrificed the most for you, I daresay your mother would be towards the top of the list. I know mine is. But it isn’t always easy to say thank you. Sometimes the words come out of our mouths and they feel like plastic, lifeless, with no meaning. After all, you say thank you to the cashier who hands you a receipt at the grocery store or to the waitress that brought you a refill. Our mothers have done so much more than that for us. So let me help you find the right words to say to her today and for all the days that follow.
“Mother, I would say thank you to for all that you’ve done for me but the words somehow don’t seem enough. There was so much love, so much nurture and guidance. But most importantly, there was the loving act of you bringing me as a baby dressed in white, standing besides my father as I was baptized and given the seal and sign of God’s undoubted love. You promised that day that by the grace of God you would do your utmost to instruct me in these doctrines. Nothing monumental. No walls fell that day, no nations rose to glory or power. The world didn’t stop to take notice or even care. This event will never be written in their history books. A vow was made that day and to them it might as well have been the ramblings of the incoherent wind.
Yet God used you to bring me to the temple, a certain Hannah of old dedicating her Samuel to the Lord. And you brought me every Sunday after that. And then you brought me to a Christian school and to catechism. (What wondrous love is this, o my soul!) Do you see why “thank you” simply won’t do? Because we both know, Mother, that it was all the work of God. It was his hand. So I’ll speak to you in the language that you know and love. I’ll tell you thank you the way you’ve always wanted to hear it: Mother, I love Zion. I’ve walked about her ramparts. I’ve studied her defenses. And you are right, Mother. She is beautiful. I love her and I love her Maker. So you can let me go and be happy because I am in the everlasting arms. No matter where I am in life, whether beside you or a hundred miles away, I’ll always fly away and meet you on golden streets by a crystal river where our Maker dwells and knows us and calls us by name.”