Like Timothy, I owe a lot to my mother. The faith that guides my life first lived in my grandmother and my mother (2 Timothy 1:5).
Today, on my mom’s birthday, I was thanking the Lord for the many ways she shaped me as her young son, and still shapes me as her grown son.
My mother taught me the Bible. I’m told that as she had her devotional times, she not only held her Bible but also held me on her lap. Before I could ever read, I was learning the importance of reading Scripture. She (and my dad) taught me to memorize verses as soon as I could speak. (The first verse they had me learn was Ephesians 6:1; a very strategic choice!). I’ve always known the Bible was God’ s Word, a Book like no other book. In large measure, I have my mom to thank for this.
My mother taught me to study. My mother was a top-tier student in high school and the valedictorian at Multnomah School of the Bible. When doing homework in the library at Multnomah, she didn’t like my dad (whom she was dating) to sit near her; he was there to socialize; she was there to study. In my grade school days, my mom taught me that homework came before baseball or T.V. The disciplines she instilled still help keep me focused when it comes to studying for sermons or class lectures.
My mother taught me to serve. For many years, mom served in ministry alongside my dad in ministry. As a pastor, my dad’s role was often more visible. But it wasn’t more valuable. Mom served Christ based on the needs of the church and gifts God had given her. She taught children the Bible and co-taught a Homebuilders class with my dad. She worked in the church office, hosted youth group gatherings in our home, traveled with my dad to encourage younger pastors and wives. She served in a multitude of way that were never seen by anyone, except the One who sees and rewards what is done in secret (Matthew 6:3-4).
My mom taught me to love to the end. Back on June 23, 1956, on a blistering hot day in central California, my mom and dad promised to love one another “for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ‘til death do us part.”
Through God’s faithfulness, they stayed faithful to their vows until the Lord called my dad Home this past June. The last leg of dad’s earthly journey was a difficult, long walk into the shadows of Alzheimer’s disease. My mom walked right beside him, caring for him each step of the way. Along with my two sisters, I repeatedly told mom she needed to get more help in caring for dad. We told her it was getting to be too much. She didn’t agree. She planned to keep the promise she made 57 years earlier. And she did; she loved him to the end.
Today is my mom’s birthday. Linda and I were with her last month for a few days, but I wish I could at her home in Portland, Oregon today. I would tell her that, like Timothy, I’m a son who will be forever grateful to God for the gift of a godly, gracious and tenacious mother. Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.