Summary: A Mother's Day sermon looking at Rebecca
There are several Christian authors I enjoy reading. One of them is Chuck Swindoll. Swindoll once wrote something I found very interesting. He tells about a book he discovered on his bookshelf one day. It was a book he had never read. I understand about books being on my shelf I have never read, I have many falling into the same category. This book, however, was different. It was a little more special than the others. As Swindoll looked at it, he found this book was one his mother had once owned. She had died some twenty years before Swindoll had found the book. As he began reading it, he saw she had written many notes in the margins. At the end of the book he found she had written, “Finished reading May 8, 1959. That brought back a flood of memories for Swindoll. He remembered where he was and what he was doing on that particular date. He was a marine stationed in the south Pacific. He was going through a bit of a spiritual struggle. It seemed God was calling Chuck into the ministry and he was resisting every way he could. He didn’t want to go. I get that. Then, during that month, May 1959, Swindoll decided when he got out of the Marine Corp, he would begin working toward entering the ministry. As he read the book he found different references to prayers his mother had prayed for his safety while he was away and for his spiritual wellbeing too. As he read he found himself shedding a few tears. He also said a prayer when he had finished reading the book. He thanked God for his mother, for all of her prayers and most of all, he thanked God for sustaining grace.
What do you think Chuck Swindoll’s mother’s motives were? She, at a minimum sacrificed time and effort to pray for her son. Why would she do that? Why do our mothers do so many things, all the things they do for us. Is it for pride or selfishness or love or something else? The list of reasons, after all, could be endless. The reasons for Swindoll’s mother’s prayers are really not all that important, at least not to us. What is important is in her, we find a model for motherhood.
In truth, in every mother we find a model for motherhood. Some obviously are better than others. Some are somewhere close to perfect, at least in our eyes, and others have made many mistakes and still others leave a great deal to be desired. Still, they are all models for motherhood.
Often times when we think of a Biblical model for motherhood, our thoughts go first to Mary the mother of Jesus. We focus on her as the ideal. Mary accepted all the hardships given to her. She had a baby where God was the father. She lived with extreme ridicule for being unmarried and pregnant. She had a baby in a stable. Mary accepted the heartaches coming to her life without complaint. She saw her son die, unjustly executed by the Jews and the government. And, through it all, she never stopped loving her first-born son.
Biblical writers like to show Mary as an impeccable example of motherhood. Indeed, that is at least a part of the problem. While we may, on some future mother’s day, look closer at the example of Mary for motherhood, for our purposes today she just doesn’t seem quite right. For many people she seems more than a little too perfect. In Mary we never see any anger. We never see any self-interest. She seems to lack many human character traits. She is so good. So right. So proper. So without sin. She just doesn’t seem quite real to many of us. The Roman Catholic Church has found her to be so perfect in her humanness, they have made her a saint, perhaps even a saint above all other saints.
Of course, most of us Protestants don’t see her in quite so glowing terms. Still, we do see her as the perfect mother for the perfect son. And, at least some of the time, many of us put our mothers into that same category, perfection, or at least somewhere close to it.
Some time ago, there was a boy who dreamed of being a big time singer. He wanted to be great. His mother thought he was very talented and wanted him to have the best musical education she could afford for him. She did without. She scrimped and she saved and saved and sent him to music school. When he got there they told her she shouldn’t have bothered because he didn’t have enough talent to worry with. But, she didn’t listen. She continued to sacrifice. She was determined someday, somehow, someway, she was going to get her son the musical education she believed he needed. That young man went on to become the great opera singer, Enricia Caruso. He did have talent. The only thing he needed was the right instruction. Well, that along with some love and care.