If I asked you to list mothers in the Bible, what are the first few names that would come to your mind?
• Eve, maybe, the mother of all mankind?
• Mary, the mother of God’s son?
• Hannah, who bargained with God for a child?
• Jochebed, who saved Moses by hiding him in a basket in the Nile?
• Sarah or Elizabeth, who birthed sons late in life?
Do you ever compare yourself to these mothers and say to yourself, “I’d never come close to being listed among the ranks of these”? Maybe you have a few Elizabeths or Marys in your life you’re trying to measure up to right now.
Personally, I’d be asking, how could I ever be like Eve? There’s no way I could remember all the names of my billions of offspring, much less have patience with their rebellious shenanigans.
But could I, like Mary, have such a willing and humble heart? Would I have stayed faithful as my son was charged, suffered 39 slashes of barbed whips, and died a criminal’s death?
Could I have been so grateful to have a child that I would return him to God after only the first few years of nursing him close to my heart?
Would I have trusted ‘elohiym to protect my son as his lived most of his years in a home of opulence, privilege, and paganism?
Would I laugh now if God said I would bear a child? At the age of 53, probably. But would I, like Elizabeth, rejoice? Uh, probably not.
I think I’d be more like Naomi, who after losing her husband and two sons, said, “Call me Mara, because I’m so bitter.”
Frankly, at times I’ve more identified with those parents who deserved to have a stone tied to their necks and dropped into a deep sea.
So what do we do, when failure and inadequacy shrink our confidence as moms to the size of a shriveled up grape? You know what? I think there’s still some sweetness we can chew on.
» First, consider, that though wonderful models, these women were not perfect. Eve’s big blunder is obvious. Hannah couldn’t keep her emotions in check. Sarah laughed in God’s face, gave her maid to her husband to procure a progeny, then grew so jealous she drove the poor maid and child into the desert. And Mary, well she tried to push Jesus into the spotlight before it was time.
» Second, look at what God did with the women who made obvious mistakes. Naomi, though overcome with grief, instructed her daughter-in-law, Ruth, in culturally acceptable ways to redeem their family name. Lo and behold, Ruth married into Jesus’ bloodline. Also in Jesus’ bloodline is Rahab, a former harlot who became Ruth’s second mother-in-law. How about Bathsheba? She’s in Jesus’ bloodline, too.
» Third, the story of the Bible is all about grace. Mothering is all about grace, too. Not just the grace we offer our children and husbands, but the grace we offer ourselves as well. It’s especially about the grace we offer ourselves, because we can’t give what we don’t have.
» Fourth, we receive grace into our lives by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. All of these women – no matter how perfect they look – all needed grace. Grace isn’t a reward for a stellar performance. It isn’t an inherent trait, randomly distributed at birth. Grace is the gift from God that prompts growth and promises beauty. It has to be chosen, accepted, and exercised. And we all know, we’re never lacking in opportunities to exercise grace.
Do you know what the word mother means in Hebrew? It’s spelled ame; pronounced em (like the letter M); and it means the bond of the family. Isn’t that beautiful? Not the perfect model; not the spiritual leader; and not the tidiest cleaner, smartest teacher, most energetic accomplisher, or blue-ribbon cook. M is the glue that holds the family together.
M draws the hurting close; forgives and encourages the wayward; capitalizes on strengths; creates family activities. She may grow weary at times. She may respond hurtfully. But she rests and then runs to the Giver of grace to refill the vats of her heart.
How can you measure up? You regularly fill up and you ooze out God’s infinite supply of grace.
The story of Eve – Genesis 2-4
The story of Mary – Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-5
The story of Hannah – 1 Samuel 1-2:11, 2:18-21
The story of Jochebed – Exodus 2:1-10; 6:20, 26
The story of Sarah – Genesis 18:9-15 and 21:1-7; Genesis 16:1-4 and 21:9-16
The story of Elizabeth – Luke 1:5-25, 57
The story of Naomi – Book of Ruth
The story of Ruth – Book of Ruth, Matthew 1:5
The story of Rahab – Joshua 2, 6:17, 22-25; Matthew 1:5
The story of Bathsheba – 2 Samuel 11-12:26, Matthew 1:6
The mention of the sunken parents (not necessarily parents): Matthew 18:6
©May 2016 by Cheri Johnson