I had the privilege of preaching a Mother’s Day sermon on my birthday this last Sunday. Thought I would share it.
It was a Sunday Afternoon and I was 8 months pregnant with my first son. Gary and I were having a Sunday afternoon snooze, when I suddenly sat up bolt straight. To which Gary bolted up too expecting me to declare “it is time!” But instead I said “I am going to have a baby!” in absolute terror and shock, as if realising for the first time. At this stage Gary looked a little confused and stared at my very round protruding tummy and said as carefully as he could knowing the wrath his pregnant wife could unleash should she be provoked. “um yes!”
In that moment, I suddenly realized that I really wasn’t ready to take on this role and I had no clue what I was suppose to do and what would be expected of me. I realized that I would be responsible for keeping alive this tiny gift and not only that, but I would be responsible for bringing him up to be a responsible and value adding human being. In that moment I realized my life would never ever be the same. I was right. And like Charles Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” But I wouldn’t change being a mother for all the Louis Vuitton bags in the world.
Preparing for this sermon has actually been the most healing thing I have done in ages. When Brad asked me, as he does. “oh by the way looking forward to hearing you preach on mothers day” At first I was delighted and so privileged to be able to do it, but then I panicked. I thought I have done a terrible job at being a mother. Suddenly all the mistakes I have made as I have tried to figure this thing called motherhood out came to wag their fingers at me. I stared at the flashing cursor on my computer screen and had nothing to say that would be encouraging to mothers. I thought maybe I can tell everyone how I messed up and hopefully they could learn from my mistakes. But the encourager in me, wasn’t happy with that.
So I asked my kids what I did right and what animal I reminded them of and why. Ivan my 20 year old, felt this was silly and eventually throwing me a bone, “well you have made me who I am today” hmmmm well depending on what day we are talking about that could be a little frightening.
I asked my 9 year old, Daniel, he said I made him happy when he felt sad, I bought him nice stuff, and I am kind. He thought I was a butterfly, because I was beautiful. (sigh, my favourite 3rd child)
Then my 18 year old, Hayden, we have had a rough road, because I am a shameless positive glass full and running over person and he can be a glass empty and someone broke my glass person. So we clashed as he was growing up quite a bit. His comment blew me away, he felt that I was a bear, a momma bear that protected her cubs, fierce. He felt that I was always there for him and that I had his back. Can’t tell how healing those words were.
Mother is often spelt G U I L T. We all seem to be feeling guilty about something we didn’t do or something we did. Are we doing enough? Have we done too much? Are we enough?
Well I have some good news for us mom’s from the bible:
For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
Psalm 139: 13-16
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.
These scriptures encourage me and then remind me that I am not alone in this. God is for me as a mother and not against me as He is with each one of us. As we realize this I had three insights:
1. We have been handpicked for this job and the child that was knitted by God into our womb or if your child is adopted, chosen by God and knitted into your heart.
2. We are not alone. We have community. And it is God’s design.
3. We get to recognize and encourage the purposes of God over their lives.
Firstly God chose me to be my boys mother out of all the mothers in the world, he chose me. When the boys were little I went to Aunty Ann, because at that stage my mom lived in Jhb so I felt like I was mostly doing this on my own with no family support around. I went to her in tears as I felt totally overwhelmed and because I felt like I was totally messing up this motherhood thing. She gave me a hug and told me that God didn’t make mistakes. He knew exactly who I was and he knows all my failings and shortcomings and he knew the purposes over my life and the boys lives and still entrusted us with them. I take comfort in the fact that God works all things for good.
We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labour] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.
Which brings me to my next point, we also don’t have to do this alone. God is for family, God is for community. He designed us this way, right from Adam, God said it is not good for man to be alone and They created Eve and there family and community started. So why do we think we have to be lone rangers.
Psalm 32:8 I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
As mothers we only need to ask God when we get too overwhelmed in those midnight hours when we can’t call on the community and when we need someone with a little more flesh we have a whole community around us who love and care.
The greatest lesson I had to learn as a mother was to ask for help. I have been so blessed with the great women in my life who have been there for me to love and support me through the times when I just didn’t know what was going on.
Then lastly, I want to look at two mothers from the bible that stood out for me.
Jochebed, many of you might not know her and that is often the case of a mother of a great person, she was Moses’ Mother. She hid him in a time in Egypt where sons were murdered at birth, because the Pharoh feared the strength of numbers they had. She hid him and then eventually sent him down the river, where he was found by the Princess of Eqypt and adopted. She trusted God with that little basket. There will be times as a mother where we must trust and let out little ones (or bigs ones) go and leave them to God.
A word from mom’s who’s children have gone into Eqypt and become sons of Eqypt I feel like the Lord is saying that you need to trust God and be encouraged. Moses became a Prince of Eqypt, and that equipped him to later free a whole nation out of slavery. Don’t look how bad things are, continue to pray the promise and purposes of God over that child, there is nothing God can’t bring us back from, not even death if he so chooses.
Hannah: Hannah is a barren women who earnestly cries out to God to give her a child and then promises to give him right back. She keeps her promise and when he is weaned which they say was about two or three year old, she takes him back to the temple and leaves him with Eli the priest. Our children are never really ours, we need to offer and entrust them back to God.
We don’t physically bring them to our Pastors, but the call is to bring them before the Lord and expose them to who God is. We have a mandate as parents to teach them in the way that they should go. The easiest way to do this is to live it ourselves, because they will often do as we do and not as we say. We are also to recognize the call and purposes in their lives and to call it out of them and develop and train them in the way that they should go. They rest is in Gods hands. Then never give up on them.
In both these story as I read them I didn’t see women in control and sure of themselves I saw you and I with all our stuff trying to figure out who we are, who God is and what to do with these little people that God has entrusted us with.
‘Life doesn’t come with a manual it comes with a mother.’ That sounds wonderful, but I have to be honest at the risk of letting the team down, we don’t really have a clue.
But what we do have is God and His Word, we have community, we have a love that pulls us through the most hectic times and we have a purpose to fulfill as we help to discover, support and encourage our children into theirs. God handpicked us for this job, and if He thought we could do it knowing us completely, just maybe we should partner with him and where we don’t know we can learn. And when we feel alone, we can ask for help.
One last parting word as I speak from a position of hindsight.
Make memories. Don’t worry about how much weight you have put on, how much sleep you have lost, how dishes are piling up and how many mistakes you think you are making. Just love them and be there and believe in them. Be in their corner always, especially when they have failed and disappointed you. You be the adult and teach them what unconditional love looks like.
When Dan came along I had a very different experience as a mother because had by then realized the mistakes I had made with my other boys by wishing the time away so I savoured every moment, because I knew how fast the time would go and I knew I was getting a 2nd chance on motherhood, I didn’t make more rules and do more stuff! I hugged more, I cherished those mid night hours and early morning times. Every morning when I drop him off at school, I tell him that I love him and that he is awesome and as he walks away I always say, don’t forget to be awesome! To which he always replies ‘okay”. I don’t care if he gets a big head. The world will try knock it out of him. I don’t get upset about accidents. A broken glass is easier to clean up than a broken spirit.
It is never to late, it doesn’t matter how old they are. Don’t worry about their life choices now, pray, but my primary focus is to love, accept and to always no matter what, be in their corner. I am proud of each of my boys, because when I look at them I see them as God sees them. Mighty men of valor, men of Passion, each of them is beautiful inside and out. I am so glad God gifted me with them, they have taught me so much and will continue to.
Preached at GraceHill Family Church on 11 May 2014.