Mother’s Day: Loving, Messing Up, and Moving Forward

Today I shared at the Gateway Austin South Campus. Here’s the message I shared:

Mother’s Day is not always a happy day. For some of us, you may have lost your mother, never felt loved by your mother, or you may be longing to be a mother.

For some mom’s, this day may be a reminder of a child who did not survive or who got into trouble.

Today, I would like to focus on the purity and depth of a mother’s love. For many of us, our mom may have many faults, but she may be the one person we’ve always known loves us. Many times, when all others give up on us, moms never give up.

Today is a difficult Mother’s Day for me personally. I lost both of my grandmother’s in the past year. In many ways, I lost two of my biggest fans.

Last Mother’s Day they were both in their late 80s and living just an hour from us in San Antonio. This past summer Dema, my mom’s mom passed away. Dema was one of the most organized people on the planet. With files on just about everything including her favorite Bible verse and favorite song to be shared at her funeral. She even had every check she had ever written going back to the 1940s. She sent us cards and a check or cash for every possible holiday. She also forwarded us every email she ever received. She bought more copies than anyone else of the book I wrote and the book my brother wrote. Inside each of her copies was her address. She had a lending library with only two books.

This past month, Grandma, my dad’s mom passed away. She was born in Kyle, TX in 1924 and graduated from Kyle High School when Kyle was a small town in central Texas rather than a suburb of Austin. She will fondly be remembered for many things, including her moment of fame in 1993 when a Blue Footed Booby bird from the Galapagos Islands came to live on her diving board at her home at LBJ Lake for over 1 ½ years. Over 5,000 people from 8 different countries came to see the bird she named Bobby.

She became a widow in her late 50s and decided not to be slowed down choosing to travel to Australia, Canada, China, and other amazing places most grandmas wouldn’t have even considered exploring.

As the end of her life came, her body just began to shut down, but the hospice nurse said that her heart just would not stop beating.

It’s almost as if her love could not be stopped.

Today I want to mention three characteristics of moms and women in general.

1. A mother’s love is enduring. We catch a glimpse of God’s love for us.

Several times throughout the Scripture, in order to help us understand how deep and enduring and real is God’s love for us, the love of God is described in the most nurturing of ways:

The Lord said: As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13 NIV)

Jesus said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Luke 13:34 NIV)

Paul said: Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8 NIV)

If you cannot imagine a loving mother – maybe your mom had a great deal of pain or brokenness in her life that made it hard for her to express love, the Lord has a message for you as well.

The people of Israel were feeling forgotten and unloved, so The Lord said to His people: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…. (Isaiah 49:14-17 NIV)

2. A woman’s value is biblical.

Some of us here today may be skeptical about the Bible or even about God. This is in part the result of the fact that too often people have misinterpreted the words of Scripture to impose their misguided understandings on others. One of the common misperceptions is the view of women in the Bible. Tragically, women have been oppressed throughout the years, but if you look at the big picture, in nations that have a Christian background and the Bible as part of their past, the trajectory has been more and more freedom and opportunity for women.

Nations influenced by the Scriptures value women and advocate for their education, their protection, and their opportunities.

From the beginning, we discover that women and men are equally both made in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27).

A very conservative pastor named John MacArthur writes: “Women play prominent roles in many key biblical narratives. Wives are seen as venerated partners and cherished companions to their husbands, not merely slaves or pieces of household furniture (Genesis 2:20-24Proverbs 19:14Ecclesiastes 9:9). At Sinai, God commanded children to honor both father and mother (Exodus 20:12).

Women are by no means marginalized or relegated to any second-class status. The Bible teaches women are not only equals with men (Galatians 3:28), but are also set apart for special honor (1 Peter 3:7). Husbands are commanded to love their wives sacrificially, as Christ loves the church–even, if necessary, at the cost of their own lives (Ephesians 5:25-31). The Bible acknowledges and celebrates the priceless value of a virtuous woman (Proverbs 12:431:10).”

Both the words of Jesus and the apostle Paul, the author of half of the New Testament, are revolutionary in the way they advocate for the rights of women and the oppressed.

Jesus talked with women, healed women, taught women, and allowed women to follow Him.

In the Scriptures, there is no limit on which gender receives spiritual gifts.

In a list of critical leaders found in his letter to the Romans, Paul lists several women leaders in chapter 16.

The most spiritually mature men are husbands of only one wife. This is remarkable considering many men had multiple wives and women were basically dependent on their dads for financial support only until they were married. If ever widowed, they were in real trouble – which is why the Bible is often encouraging Christ-followers to care for widows and orphans.

Even ideas used against women – like the word “submit” are simply misunderstood. Paul is advocating for women and men to treat each other the way the other gender prefers to be treated. Way before Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus, Paul says to both women and men:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ…. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21, 33 NIV)

In general, women first want to be loved, and men first want to be respected, but I don’t know many women who don’t also want to be respected and men who don’t want to be loved.

In one of the most revolutionary verses in the entire Scripture, Paul writes:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NIV)

There are so many amazing and revolutionary stories in the Bible. The Bible is more than a remarkable historical document. It is a portal into God’s presence! I want to encourage each of you to begin reading the Bible if you aren’t currently doing so. Start with the Gospel of John and just pray before you read each time: “God, speak to me and give me the courage to respond.” Or for the more skeptical: “God, if you are real, show me who You are. Speak to me and give me the courage to respond.”

3. A mom’s role is challenging.

We need to acknowledge how difficult being a mom can be! There are at least three quick reasons off the top of my head why being a mom is so difficult.

First, being a mom is a miracle. Only 1 in 4 pregnancies make it to term. Many of us in this room have experienced the pain of a miscarriage. Many women struggle to get pregnant. Some have been waiting longer than they have wanted to get married or to adopt or to foster a child. Every baby is genuinely a miracle!

Second, being a mom is difficult. Babies are quite demanding and selfless and take over your life. Sometimes new moms disappear from work or church or from friendships only to emerge months later – looking a bit more exhausted.


Debbie and baby Caleb

 

Baby Trevi

Parenting is one of the greatest joys and greatest challenges in life.

Third, being a mom never ends.

Me and Mom 1972

We should honor our moms for their efforts!

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:28-31 NIV)

Next steps:

Who do you need to forgive?

Value those in your life more. Be grateful for who you have and not bitter about who you don’t have.

 

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