The Pastor’s Pen – May 13, 2018

aaron-burden-654613-unsplash

aaron-burden-654613-unsplash…worth more than precious jewels

5/13/12

 

Scripture: Selections from Proverbs 31(MSG Trans.)

 

Dear Mom,

First of all, Happy Mother’s Day!  I know you can hear me, and I know you are well for I know you dwell in the presence of our Lord Jesus.  It has been far too many years since I was able to tell you in person but on this special day I wanted to reflect on the incredible example of grace and love in action you were for all five of us children who were so blessed to call you ‘mom’.  And blessed as well were those who knew you simply as a dear friend.

It seems the older I get the more I find myself reflecting on times past.   And whenever I think of you, which is somewhat frequently, I find myself giving thanks for all you were for us and for how you raised us to love with the same fierce devotion as you yourself did.  In fact I honestly believe that our God loves us just as you did, with the same intensity and with the same lack of conditions.  I marvel at how closely you reflected the image of God and how you lived into the purposes laid out before you…plans, purposes, and actions which so enriched the lives of all who came to know you.  But most of all on this Mother’s Day I give thanks for the witness of your love which gave me a foundation upon which to build my own life….and a direction to walk in that has blessed me over and over again.

And so on this, your day, I look to the words of a wise one so many centuries ago, the one who wrote down the words and wisdom found in the book of Proverbs…another one who knew what an amazing gift you and all others like you were and are for the rest of us.  In reading through Proverbs Chapter 31 it seems as though many have known from the very beginning what a blessing God wrought when he created mothers…and what balance and beauty would come from the creation of these we are all fortunate to call our ‘mom’.

And so, I offer thanks for the words of one long ago who knew and wrote down this truth…he starts out in verse 10 of Chapter 31 writing down verses to a poem and sharing words all of us know to be true.  Verse 10 reads:  An excellent wife who can find?  She is worth far more than precious jewels.

Your example mom, the way you first began to show us love…was by loving our father…by standing by him in times of struggle…by listening, and by showing such a depth of patience…by loving him even when at times he might have seemed less than lovable.  A more fortunate man there never was who first knew the brilliance of the diamond you most surely were.  I remember hearing once that the greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother…and at least in our case the opposite was also so true…indeed one of the greatest gifts you gave to your five children was to love our father.

Chapter 31, verses 15-18 read:  She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day…first thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.  She senses the worth of her work and is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

This was so true of you as well…and so much the very thing that real loving is all about…about giving and serving others way beyond the call…about extending oneself to the point of sheer exhaustion just so that those you love are well taken care of.  So much the way you lived for us…always with a smile…always with a kind and encouraging word…always coming to our defense whenever we felt wronged or injured some way…ready to affirm our every fledgling attempt to be creative or adventurous…you were there.

And as for never calling it quits…I still blush with shame to think that we found it so amusing when you would nod off to sleep at the dinner table, so exhausted from your self-emptying life of service and love…succumbing to your body’s insistence that you pause just for a moment to be renewed before snapping awake and getting to your feet to begin the evening chores including all the affairs of the home as well as tending to the needs of five children who never even thought of giving you a moment’s rest.  No dear mom…you never did know when to call it quits for the day.

Chapter 31…verses 19-21 read:  She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.  She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.  She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.

Somehow you knew…somehow it was just a part of who you were…the skills and talents you brought to bear in truly making our house a home were simply amazing. Working with what would be considered by many to be a pauper’s budget you fed and clothed us in ways that made us never to know how difficult it was for you…from casseroles to meatloaf, from hand-me-downs received with grace and sincere gratitude…as though it were Christmas over and over again…to furniture that matched absolutely nothing else but yet somehow fit into a tapestry of design that was comfortable and cozy…all of it became a part of our happiness and joy…for it was given in love and we knew it was good…truly you knew how to live richly with very little indeed.

Following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus you taught by example…making sure each of your children not only learned how to make the bread you baked sometimes twice a week…but teaching us to be as generous to those around us as you were…giving away countless loaves of that precious life-giving bread to those the Spirit moved your heart to reach out to…such a witness, such an example to follow!  And late evenings darning socks or teaching me how to knit and to sew…giving me an independence of spirit and ability which still blesses me in being able to stand comfortably in my own frame!  And thank you mom for that first well-used but still dependable Singer Treadle Sewing machine you got for me, a joy and a creative wonder that I will never forget…for in that act you taught me how to love and to serve another with the gift of caring…

Mom, you not only made our house a home…you made other’s homes just a bit brighter through the graceful way you gave of what you knew…sharing without asking for anything in return, giving beyond reasonableness to the point of truly helping others in their need, reaching in to where soul and spirit meet, smiling gently and offering the hand of companionship and love.  Truly you were skilled in hearth and home…in ours…and for those who were so graced and blessed to call you their friend.…

Verses 25-26 of Chapter 31 read:

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.

We all lost your physical touch and comforting embrace way too soon to the tragic car accident that stole your movement when you were at the tender age of just 47…an accident that was to change everything…and to define the rest of our lives so differently from that moment on.  And yet…though you were never again able to reach out and to catch us up in a loving hug, or gently wipe away a tear from our eyes…somehow you rose up, above that seemingly impossible cruelty…above that unjust steel-like cage of pain and frustration to fly free of it all by continuing to live your life for those around you…by holding us with your unwavering smile, your unfailing good cheer and all your kind words.

Though you were no longer able to physically hold us, we were none the less held closer than ever in the embrace of your eyes, your listening heart, and gentle yet firm words of instruction and guidance as we all still struggled to grow our way into responsible adulthood. There truly never was a moment when you did not have something worthwhile to say…or when you did not say it with gentleness and kindness…and for this we are ever grateful…thank you mom for continuing to hold us so close in your heart.

Chapter 31 and verse 28 reads:  Her children respect and bless her…

I do not think there has been, or ever will be a person whom I will respect and admire as much as I respect you.  And I am pretty sure my brothers and sisters would all agree…along with a whole host of others whose paths crossed your own…or whose paths you sought out in response to some inner call to reach out to and hold closely in the name of love.  Your God-given talents and skills…your grace and understanding…your patience and persistent good cheer, are an example the rest of us can only hope to draw near to imitating…for you see, you set the bar just a bit high dear one…or maybe it wasn’t you who set it at all, but rather our Lord of Love who calls each one of us to the same grace-filled purpose…to living lives of love…lives that are truly lived for others…lives whose only meaning comes from how well we have loved one another.

Chapter 31 and verse 30 reads:  Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who knows, loves, and trusts in the love of our Lord.

The book of Proverbs closes with these last words…and I am not sure I agree completely, although I think I understand what the ancient sage is trying to share.  I suppose in the wrong hands, in hands tending towards things less noble, that charm and beauty can be tools of hurt and manipulation rather than of hope and life-giving vitality.  But that was never the case with you mom…your charm and your beauty; both the beauty the world looked upon, as well as the inner beauty we who knew you were blessed to see were genuine and real.  We all knew deep in our hearts that your charm and your beauty were gifts of finest gold, given directly to us by God, and used from start to finish in making the world we live in just a bit more precious to look upon.

And somehow through it all…and against all odds, you managed to hold us each in such a way that we could see the God in whose image you were so finely cast…somehow we could see through the hardship, the toil and struggles, the unknown lack and want…to the Love you yourself were following…

…in looking at your unfailing love we were able to see the unfailing love of God…

…in witnessing your grace we were able to see the grace of our Lord…

…in receiving your mercy and forgiveness for the times in which we insisted on going astray we were able to see the gentle One who so cherishes and forgives us without condition each and every moment of our lives…

…in being blessed to touch, and be touched by your life of deepest love…we were touched by the very hand of God…

…and so, in deep humility I can only say…thanks…I will continue to try to live by your example…

Happy Mother’s Day!   I love you…

…and Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who share the same calling…

amen

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

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