In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a pastor’s letter I wrote in 2002 for the Trinity Highlights monthly newsletter of the Trinity UMC, in Patton, PA. This is especially an important year for my mom and me as we both played the hospital game at the same time… While I was having my kidney out in Pittsburgh, she was in the Bradford hospital diagnosed with pneumonia and suspected lung cancer. We’re both home now and reestablishing our strength until we find out what the next steps are for each of us. We have a sort of daily telephone support group going on most days.
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Isaiah 66:13
Recognizing and honoring mothers has been a long-standing tradition of Methodism. In fact, it was a Methodist woman in West Virginia just about a hundred years ago that rallied the church, and the country, around the idea of setting aside one day a year just to honor moms.
John Wesley himself, the founder of Methodism, was quick to tell how his spiritual nurture and Christian training went back to his mother Susanna who personally modelled and taught what it meant to follow Jesus Christ.
In the past few years, my own mother has moved back North after a couple of decades of living in Alabama, and I’ve had a chance again to get to know my mom all over again. Within the past few months, she’s re-introduced me to some of the more mature relatives on her side of my family tree… folks I hadn’t seen since I was fourteen. And I’m learning something about my family and my mom, about me, and about our God.
You see, as I grew up, my Mom didn’t always attend church, so I picked up an attitude that she wasn’t a “real” Christian and I, of course, believed I was! So I copped an attitude that I didn’t have to listen to her… How wrong I was!
What I’ve begun to learn in the past few years is that, even in my mom’s lowest moments, on her most “down” days, God was still using her in my life… and in the lives of my brother John and my sister Laura. Of course, God was working through her as she cared for us, like we expect a parent would, but God also used her quite often to speak words of truth and guidance to me… even as an obnoxious self-centered teenager who thought he knew it all. And imagine my surprise, as a college kid some twenty years ago, when I began to realize that my Mom was also a great dispenser of spiritual truths as well! And SHE was praying for ME! She actually knew this God I thought I exclusively called Lord!
God has used my mom to teach me so much… about life, about dealing with hard times and lean times as well, about loyalty to those you love… even when they might seem unlovable. But God has used my Mom to teach me about Him as well.
For you see, I’ve come to recognize that our God is loyal to loved ones, even when they make wrong choices, just like my Mom. God is always concerned about the best choices and opportunities for his children, just like my Mom was for us kids. God, and my Mom, finds staying angry difficult because of the love within. And in the same way that I still go to my mom for a listening ear, I can always go to God, who has that same caring and compassion that my does.
And I now understand that in the same way that I so arrogantly thought I knew more and knew better than my mom, that’s the way I quite often have approached God… But the truth is they both have much to teach me… if I can simply learn to listen.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day this month, let’s thank God for them and, if they’re still alive, let’s remind them of how much God has used them in our lives. And how we have learned about the nurturing, mother-like heart of God Himself.