Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Tribute to Mothers

We have many mother’s in our audience this morning. Many of them opened up Mother’s Day presents this morning. Some of them are wearing their present. I always had a hard time trying to decide what my mother would want. If she could have anything, what would it be?

This is a Mother’s Day wish list written by a mother:

1. To be able to eat a whole candy bar (alone) and drink a Coke without any “floaters” (i.e. backwash). 
2. To have my 14 year-old answer a question without rolling her eyes in that “Why is this person my mother?” way. 
3. Five pounds of chocolate that won’t add twenty. 
4. A shower without a child peeking through the curtain with a “Hi Ya, Mom!” just as I put a razor to my ankle. 
5. A full-time cleaning person who looks like Brad Pitt. 
6. For my teenager to announce, "Hey, Mom! I got a full scholarship and a job all in the same day!"
7. A grocery store that doesn't have candy/gum/cheap toys displayed at the checkout line.
8. To have a family meal without a discussion about bodily secretions
9. To be able to step on a plane with my toddlers and NOT have some 
        pencil-neck-yuppie- geek moan, "Oh, no! Why me?” 

When I think of what my mother went through, I am amazed. She had four children—not unlike someone else I know. My mother had three children right in a row. She was basically pregnant for three years. I was the middle child of those three. My earliest memories of life center around my mother.

I remember my mother telling us about escalators. They were dangerous! We were not allowed anywhere near them. I didn’t understand why other people could ride the fun ride in the mall. But as I grew up, I realized what a chore it would be to corral three young children onto the escalator, dragging every toy and baby bag with us. 

I remember her warning me about going around too many times on the merry-go-round. I also remember how I felt after I had ignored her. It was then that I realized mothers always know best. 

My mother provided security. As I grew, I was confronted with many strange things. School. New kids. Mean teachers. I could always run back to the safety of my mother.

Mothers provide the foundations that many of us were built upon. They mold our perceptions of life. They usually help form our characters more than any other person. They give us lessons to live by.

Most mothers can tell horror stories about their children’s escapades. I remember when our children were younger and coming home to a house full of screaming kids! Newsflash: sometimes siblings do not get along! I remember one particular moment. Anna’s crying…

“Why are you crying Anna?”
“Because Luke hit me.”
“But Luke, why are you crying?”
“Because when I hit Anna, she hit me back!”
Over in the corner is Ellie.
“Well, Ellie, why are you so upset?  Did someone hit you too?” 
“No, Anna & Luke won’t play with me?”

Times like those made me wonder what it would be like to have the “perfect child.” I don’t think there has ever been a perfect child. No mother has ever had the privilege of living a completely care-free life. Every child has found some way to take years off of her parent’s lives.

Even Jesus provided some scary moments for His mother. Even Mary had moments when Jesus scared her to death. One time Jesus was lost. No one could find Him. In fact, He was gone a full day before anyone even knew He was gone.

You might ask, “How could that happen?”

When the Jews went to Passover, the men traveled in one group; the women traveled in another group. Mary thought He was with Joseph. Joseph thought He was with Mary. When they got ready to sleep that night…no Jesus.

Even Jesus caused His mother grief every now and then. He left his parents. He was gone for three whole days. Now mothers, think for a moment. How would you feel if your child was lost for three days? 

Maybe that was a silly question. Some of you look surprisingly pleased at that thought! Many of you would take a vacation. No, the truth is you would be scared out of your mind! News stations would be plastering your child’s picture everywhere. Search parties would be looking frantically.

We often overlook the significance of this moment. This young child, this young son of Mary was nowhere to be found

Read Luke 2:41-52.

Jesus was lost. His parents search for Him three days. They finally find Him and what does He say? “Why were you searching for Me?”

Was He kidding? Mary’s jaw probably hit the floor at this point. The text says, “They didn’t understand what He was saying to them…” That is a nice way of saying, “Jesus’ answer didn’t hold much weight with Mary and Joseph.”

Jesus probably never forgot that day! He probably received more than a lecture as His parents took Him back to Nazareth. Do you realize what happened here? Jesus took His first step away from his parents.

Obviously, Jesus’ situation is unique, but there are many similarities to any other child. I attended a wedding this weekend. I saw two sets of parents come to a startling reality. Their little boy and girl were grown! They were starting a life of their own.

Mary realizes for the first time that her son is growing up. He will not always be dependent on her. He will one day leave for good. He will go out and live His own life. His life’s calling was not restricted to Nazareth.

Mary was no doubt upset because Jesus was lost, but I love verses 51-52: 

"They returned home and Mary treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus continued to grow in wisdom & stature." 

Maybe for the first time, Mary realized that Jesus would leave one day. He had His own mission in life. She knew even before He was born that He was special. After all it’s not everyone that gets an announcement from angels. She knew He would have a special function in life.
But I’m convinced of something: Jesus, just like most of us, became the person He was because of the influence of His parents. After Jesus returned home, He continued to grow in wisdom and stature. He learned the lessons His parents taught Him. Isn’t it amazing that even the Savior of the world needed His mother’s instruction?

I’m convinced of something else as well…

Every mother in this room can sympathize with Mary to some extent. They provide the security for their child. Sometimes that child does things that just infuriate you. But even in those times, you still love them. And you realize that one day, that child will leave.

Mothers, your presence is the first thing that child will remember. Your voice. Your touch. Your love. You have a high calling to provide that child with a foundation to stand upon, to give them the tools to live a productive life, and most of all, to introduce them to Jesus.

One day, just like Jesus, each child in this room will leave. Your influence will most likely be a lasting one. That doesn’t mean your child will learn every lesson you teach, and it doesn’t mean they will suffer for every mistake you made along the way. Your child will continue to grow in wisdom and stature. He or she will continue to build upon the foundation you have laid.

The first phase of this transition comes at a relatively young age. Do you remember the first day of Kindergarten? I was truly a “momma’s boy” in every sense of the world and I remember that day was a traumatic day in my life. Kim makes fun of me when I tell this story. I usually got ready before my brother and sister in the morning. I would sit on the couch and watch cartoons until my mother took us to school. I remember sitting there with that sick feeling in my stomach. I didn’t want to go to school. Most of all, I didn’t want to leave my mom. I was a “Momma’s boy” first class.

But as I sat there, two cartoons were on T.V. I would watch Rocky and Bulwinkle for half an hour, but when it finished, the Jetsons came on. I knew that when the Jetsons came on it was time to go. I used to get a sick feeling in my stomach when I heard that theme song. The sad part is, I still get that feeling every time I hear that song. But it was not only traumatic for me, I’m sure it was for my mother too.

Mothers, do you remember that first day?

One mother wrote a letter to her son on the first day he left for school. She read it to him years later. 

Mothers, I want to say thank you. Thank you to all the mothers who cared enough to make a difference in the life of their child. Thank you for giving us life. Thank you for giving us a foundation. Thank you for training us well so that one day we could leave.

You have accepted one of the hardest jobs on earth. One of the most important jobs on earth. The same job Mary undertook 2000 years ago. I want to encourage you to do as Mary did. Continue to treasure the actions of your child in your heart. Continue to help them grow. And one day they will leave the security of your presence and use your lessons to influence the lives of their own children.

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