Morning by Morning
Mother’s Day was last Sunday and Father’s Day is on the horizon. It is a good thing to honor our parents. I miss my mother and have discovered I never regret one moment of care and love in which I gave myself to her. Not just in words but in deeds, especially as she grew older and her needs were greater. Others tell me that I cared for her well and that was certainly my intention. However, at times a tiny voice reminds me of moments I could have been more understanding or given more of myself. I know the truth that God in His higher purposes can and will bring good out of my mistakes and they are each paid for by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. And so I don’t dwell on these missteps but use them as data to give thanks to God for His mercy. I also use these memories to ask Him to make me aware of other folks in my life to love, and when and how. But again, I never regret the times I followed God’s love in obedience and demonstrated my love for Mother by my actions and words.
It’s also a joy to receive the care our sons give me or David. Listening, doing, being-with and sacrificing time for us. Care is an evidence of love when freely given and often speaks louder than words. Certainly however, the words “I love you” when followed by caring actions are both a huge boon and a blessing, not to be taken lightly. Something big to thank God for.
As I think of these parental Hallmark Days, I think of John’s words that he had no greater joy than to see his children walk in the truth ( 3rd John 1:4). The truth John spoke of was Jesus, all He was, all He had given and how He asked that we walk in His sacrificial love for others. He desired we take on the Father’s trait of love as we give our lives to Him, fully and freely. And as we love His other children sacrificially.
As good as it is to celebrate this familial love on special days, I also think of some whose hearts break for a variety of reasons on such days. First, some did not have a loving environment in which to grow. Even as one grieves this loss, these special days can be a time to remember and count on the fact that we are cradled in the steadfast love of a Perfect Parent who wastes nothing. Even our less-than-perfect relationships are fodder for His healing and for our usefulness. Even their less-than-perfect parenting. Even our less-than-perfect parenting!
Ruth Bell Graham addresses two other circumstances that cause heartache for some on Hallmark Days like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Both of these poems have provided insight and strength for me at different times in my parenting. And these poems have been challenging. Both can be found in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them by Ruth Bell Graham. I encourage you to take some moments to let the truths in Graham’s well-chosen words soak into your soul and do God’s work there.
They Felt Good Eyes Upon Them
They felt good eyes upon them
and shrank within –undone;
good parents had good children
and they – a wandering one.
The good folk never meant
to act smug or condemn,
but having prodigals
just “wasn’t done” with them.
Remind them gently, Lord,
have trouble with Your children,
Whether thinking about a wandering child of one’s own or looking at others whose child is wandering, it is good to remember that while good parenting is called for and can influence a child toward God, there is another factor. Children have choices. All of God’s children have choices including all of mine and all of yours.
Another sadness on these special days can be when storms and stresses abound in a child’s life. When we implore and agonize over their situations—the job, the relationship, the health issue, the......you fill in the blank. When we pray and pray. When we “know” what is best for that dear one. This next poem by Ruth Graham gives a wider perspective. Not that we stop praying but that we realize something else also. Someone else is on the move. And the story is not over yet.
Had I Been Joseph's Mother
Had I been Joseph's mother
I'd have prayed protection from his brothers
"God, keep him safe.
He is so young, so different from the others.”
she never knew there would be slavery and prison, too.
Had I been Moses’ mother
I'd have wept to keep my little son:
praying she might forget
the babe drawn from the water of the Nile.
Had I not kept him for her nursing him the while?
Was he not mine,
but Pharaoh's daughter'
Had I been Daniel's mother
I should have pled
this Babylonian horde—
godless and cruel—
don't let them take him captive
Had I been Mary,
Oh, had I been she,
I would have cried
as never mother cried,
"...Anything, O God,
God, how fortunate
Whether in our role as a child or a parent may we remember the One Perfect Parent and thank Him for His self-giving love and His resurrection power in our lives and in the lives of those we care about. Then may we walk in rest and joy even on Hallmark Days that are tinged with sorrow.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the God who so loves each of us,