In the main, this was a speech I gave at a Hope Prot. Ref. School Mothers Circle program.
To begin I’m asking you to please bear with me because I’m definitely not your conventional speaker. I cannot produce for you a Masters in the educational field, nor a degree of any form, not even a diploma in child psychology. In fact, I must admit, I’m still a student in that school and I’m not always getting a passing grade either. Just ask my self-appointed teachers, (any of my children). Although lately I have noticed that as the children get married and grow older, and their own families become larger, my standings are moving up a bit.
As for a public speaker, I have doubts about that too. A while back, I read a Dale Carnegie brochure and it stated that in order for a person to be a success, be he or she an executive, salesperson, or speaker, you never start from the negative. Now that’s against me too. I’m starting with a negative. I know I will not be able to answer your unique personal questions because I have not found the answer to all my own, not yet. So, the only legitimate credential I can hold before you is that I am a mother!!
When I was asked to talk on some phase concerning “Mothers”, I didn’t hesitate for long to say I’d be willing to try. Not because I feel that I have a monopoly on that role: 12 children. One to three, six to sixteen, quantity is not the measuring rod for the ideal mother, let me assure you. Mere multiplication of births in no way infuses qualifications. To be truthful, there were plenty of times when I was quite convinced that these consecutive numbers were a detriment to my latent abilities to function as an ideal mother. For example, first, I’m remembering eight youngsters, a very pregnant me, with my better half too, living through the up-and-downheaval of the stomach flu, all at the same time. A one bathroom disaster! And then, this with shame, the week we had a family friend, a man, visiting our home. This was, also when we had children ranging from teenagers to a nurser. Well, I really went all out to see that everything went according to what was expected in the well-organized, efficiently managed home. And for the first four or five days I ran a tightly reined ship. All meals were on time and the children behaved rather well, normal at least. The disagreements were mild and surprisingly, even the ten minute allotted time in the bathroom was recognized. So I mentally complimented myself. But this up before six and to bed at midnight was such rigid scheduling!!! I was tired. I became irritable. I weakened and so did our household. Still, all in all, we did have a wonderful visit. He is a kind, humorous, understanding Christian and we love him dearly. We were sorry to see him go. Before he left he bade us a fond farewell and presented me with a gift of appreciation. And then he said, “You’re a good cook, a nice mother, and I learned something else about you too, you have feet of clay,” which was his way of telling me, I am a sinner and it shows! So, why did I consent to speak? This was exactly the extra incentive, that push, that I myself needed in order to finally crystalize my own Biblical convictions. But more too, I wanted to put an end to the continual proddings that were being given me by my many daughters, flesh born, marriage-given, adopted Chinese, Malay, Indian, all dearly loved children. Now I would have to formulate and set down some basic Scriptural truths concerning “God’s Promised Gift to Mothers”. I was especially confronted with this subject every time we were in Singapore and that was understandable, because this was exactly the reason why the women had been asked to accompany their husbands. We had to gain the confidence of the young sisters who were too shy, far too modest to discuss their problems with their own male leaders. The first thing we did when we arrived was set aside four nights for meetings with sisters only, much to the dismay of the fellows. They insisted that they, too, needed information on Christian marriages. So to appease them, Rev. Kamps and my husband held some informal meetings with them in the apartment while we gathered at River Valley Outreach (the church building). Now, each meeting lasted at least two hours and the discussions took the form of question and answer sessions with the questions written out and handed in anonymously. At that time, in order to be free and more frank, they chose to hide their identities. Oh, I could have assured them that wasn’t necessary, at that time I couldn’t tell one from the other (no way). Even tonight I can well recall my utter confusion at seeing that expanding circle of identical Oriental faces before me. Today I’m happy to say that each girl is a special individual face with a name and she feels confident to question, or as they say, share, on a most personal relationship.
Although we received over 65 questions, but just a few dealt with courtship (boy and girl situation). Example: “How can a girl get a special boy to notice her?” “Is it permissable to hold hands if engaged?” “How can I tell if a certain boy is the right one for me?” -this type, all more or less in a lighter vein. But by far the majority concerned marriage and surprisingly not too many were about the husband-wife relationship either. Almost all centered on marriage and children. Example: “Must we have children in order to live a full Christian life?” “Do we have the right to determine when to conceive?” “What about our government restriction on large families?” “Career or children?” “A babysitter to continue education?” “Babysitter if she is a good granny?” “Babysitter if husband’s income is terminated by illness?” etc. And give Biblical proof! It soon became apparent, these young women also aspired after marriage. And their comments gave testimony that they believed the marriage vows had to be taken with a fellow Christian in the Lord. But children. . . what should we do about children?
True it is, children do tend to interfere with furthering an education and in maintaining a career. It is an undeniable fact that the cost of even a single child is phenomenal, not only monetarily but also in the loss of our personal freedom.
It just isn’t necessary to enumerate all the other varied reasons and excuses that we entertain for limiting families. They run the gamut from the pitiable impious to being religiously absurd. The majority are as familiar to the older woman, with tier society accepted five or six children, as they are to the bridal gowned maiden.
Although the motives and methods be as ancient as Pharoah and Onan or modem as Lee and Upjohn, yet, all have this common denominator. Our father was an Amorite and our mother was a Hittite.
And these be the parentage we own, these are the kindred to whom we give honor when we imitate their devious practices.
We are guilty of violating our spiritual betrothal when sometimes we become so enamored with Self and share such intimacy with her twin sister Pride as to gift them with our wedding band.
We are sinners! God knows. When His Spirit breathed Word blows away the straw (Jewish straw? American straw? Chinese straw? Dutch Reformed straw?) we discover it is always the same age old wail of the flesh, “How can I escape the judgment God has inflicted on me?’’ “I will multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over you.” Gen. 3:16.
“Thy name is Eve. …” Thus, we have been re-christened. Formerly we had been named “woman” which symbolized our initial creation, “womb-man”, built by Jehovah God from the rib of man. So in the garden, Adam could say, “This living creature which has been brought to me is the companion which I need, for this is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” An ancient Jewish writer commenting on this transition of a rib into a woman wrote: “It was, as if Adam had exchanged a pot of earth for a precious jewel.” That was before the fall.
But now, your name, my name, is Eve (life-giving). In Genesis 3:20 we read, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living.” Now we ask, “How can that be?” The sentence of death had just passed upon woman too. “For in the day that thou eastest thou shalt surely die.” Adam and his wife were immersed in death, yet he gives to her the name “Life-giving”. Remember, though, Jehovah god had found them, by His voice (called) them (out) from their hiding place, compelling them to stand before Him to damn them to hell as they deserved!! No! No! Even before God sentences them for their transgressions, He reveals His covenant with them. So we can say they were placed on the porch of Grace and through the slightly opened door, could see, by faith, into the House of Life from where the Light of the Life Giver, the Seed shone upon them. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her Seed. It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15.
So Adam comforts himself in his wife, because now he shall through Eve produce a posterity in which they shall be victorious.
The secular definition for mothers reads “anyone who gives birth.” But we’re not here to discuss “anyone”. Our only interest lies with one specific class of mothers who by giving birth are mothers included in the covenant relationship which God Himself establishes. It was promised first to Eve in Paradise and then revealed more brightly as we stand with Abraham on the porch and the door is opened even wider and the light envelopes us. “I will establish my Covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy Seed after thee.”
We do believe this truth! We have been gifted with faith to believe our God gathers His children from our children. So, I must be bold to say we really do not have the option to choose what kind of a mother we’d like to be. The world spreads before us a career mother, a part-time mother, which results in the making of the latchkey child, or today’s newest innovation, surrogate mother, the free-lance mother. But we haven’t the right of choice.
Why not? Because each believing daughter of Eve, has stood before the face of Jehovah God and acknowledged that this child is God’s child, heir of His kingdom and only entrusted into her care and keeping for a time. And, too, we have also stood before God and His church and vowed to be the kind of mothers which this Covenant relationship demands. WE have promised to nurture, which means instruct and correct, to bring up these children in the truth and way which God prescribes in His Word.
And here is when the magnitude and the awesomeness of such an undertaking overwhelms us. Reflecting on this high and lofty command we are almost tempted to give up, for there is no denying that the lion’s share of child-raising, the essential day by day care, the nurturing, falls to Mothers. That, too, by God’s order. We are created to bear and nurse them, care and train, even exercise authority over them, on behalf of and in place of the father.
But God, Who is rich in mercy, does not leave us to our own natural resources. As He took Eve from her hiding place, discarding her apron of fig leaves, to clothe her in His covering of the Promise, so Christ strengthens and gladdens believing Eve in the Church today, too, by proclaiming that her children are His heritage, to praise Him in time and for eternity!
True it is that this blessing does not consist in removing the chastisement. The sorrows of conception, the afflictions because of sin, are still with her. Isn’t it through our children that we see our disobedience, our own rebellion, our own pride, mirrored and magnified!!? What mother hasn’t mingled her tears with her punished, weeping child to confess, “I, too, am guilty.” But this is the burden, this is the sorrow that compels us. Together we run to the cross to seek forgiveness. Blessed Eve and her daughters sanctified in Christ.
Eve is called to life-long years of service, for she has promised “to the utmost of my power.” Because teaching or instructing ranks highest among the duties that Eve renders to her children first, by her example, and secondly, by the Word, it is necessary that she herself be taught aright where to go. And that is to His Word. Job 36:22 “Behold God exalteth by His power: who teacheth like Him?” So we go to learn from Him. Here we will follow the direction and reflect on the analogy given by Miss Katie Gunnink in one of her Bible Study series. We must sit at Jesus’s feet. Oh let’s not deceive ourselves. Sitting at Jesus’ feet is not an easy task. How often in our nervous, busy lives isn’t it much easier to get our housework done to produce, to organize, to promote, to buy, to sell, than to sit quietly even for an hour in a day to study our lessons for the next society meeting. How often is our prayer time a hurried recital of petitions that costs nothing in terms of time or effort, instead of the pouring out of our souls in praise, devotion, wonder, confession and longing?! To grow in the knowledge of God, to learn of Him through His Word through the means of grace which He dispenses, to sit quietly at His feet and fellowship with our Lord takes tremendous effort. It takes the sacrifice of self-Eve!
Let’s stop and ponder this. . . . When God gives us, or a child, some physical handicap we are anxious to get better, eager to improve, so that we think nothing of spending an hour or two daily in strenuous physical therapy. And now, I’m not even asking to count the hours spent in personal relaxation. Then what a sad commentary on our spiritual values. We are so involved amassing, what shall we eat? What shall we drink? Or where withal shall we be clothed? That we have no time and do not make time to commune with our Redeemer: Who saves us, not only from death, but from eternal damnation.
Yes, Eve and her daughters need their spiritual therapy to protect them from the world, the devil, and then, too, our most insidious, deceptive, enticing enemy; our flesh.
I especially like the way Martin Luther summed it up in one of his sermons on Good Works. “If parents (mothers) rightly train their children to God’s service, they will indeed, have their hands full of good works. For what are the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick-if not the souls of your children? With these children, God makes a hospital in your own home (Here is where God requires us to be workers in the house or as the Dutch has it “housekeepers” -Titus 2:5). God sets you over them to wait on them, to give them the food and drink of good words and works. He sets you over them that they may learn by your example, through your nurturing they may learn to trust God, to believe Him, to fear Him, to set their whole hope on Him, to honor His name —never swear or curse— to mortify themselves through prayer and fasting, to work, to go to church, to go to catechism, to wait on the Word of God, to observe the Sabbath. He sets you over them that they may learn to despise temporal material things, to bear misfortune without complaint, to love not this life, neither fear death.
Just think how full your hands are in your own home with your children who need all these things like a hungry, poor, impoverished sick soul.”
Arduous work, never ending spiritual activities —and this, Eve, is the God ordained directions for your life— in this way of obedience is Eve’s blessedness, her happiness, her salvation!!
“Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child bearing, if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness.” I Timothy 2:15 So I conclude. … In your striving for spiritual growth, so that you may daily follow Him, joyfully bearing your cross, may I earnestly counsel you to imitate the Ideal Mother, who was “Most Highly Favored”, Mary, mother of Jesus.
Oh pray! Pray for abundant grace to be able to say amid all the adverse circumstances pertaining to conceiving, bearing, and nurturing children.
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord. . . be it unto me according to Thy Word.” This is truly the expression of a heart embodying true faith, firm hope, and ardent love from which emerges that priceless gift for Godly Mothers, my will at peace with His will for me. And Mary was graced to minister to the needs of the “Giver of Eternal Life.”
“Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth Me.” Blessed Eve and her daughters as they journey on their pilgrimage through this wilderness toward their Jerusalem-home until the day when Eve is carried over the threshold and through the opened door into the house of many mansions!
Mother? Oh no! Bride! The Bride of the Prince of Life. Eternally Blessed I and the children Thou hast given!