|THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE|
In the Old Testament, the name given to a person spoke of what kind of person they were – it represented the essence of their personality. The first woman created was called Eve, and in Hebrew her name means "life" or "living". One might think that name was given only because Eve would bear children. However, let us consider that there is a spiritual meaning for everything in the Old Testament, in addition to the natural meaning. Consequently, there is a dual meaning in Eve’s name – just as there are two kinds of life in the world, physical and spiritual. Referring to this we read:
"However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual." 1Corinthians 15:46 (NKJV)
In the allegorical sense, Eve first gave birth to Cain, who represents the natural, unregenerate man, and then to Abel who represents the spiritual man. We see then that there were two vital aspects of her God-given responsibilities – Eve was not created just to be a bearer of physical children, but of spiritual children. The first was a natural act, and once it was accomplished, it was over. However, the second, which is the greater of the two, required a consistent working with God. She could not bring to pass spiritual life in her children – that was their choice. However, she could instill in them the desire for spiritual life. In fact, that was her high calling, and it was a sacred trust given specifically to her. Fathers have a great influence on their children, but mothers have much more. It is the mother through whom the earliest impressions are made on a child – impressions that can influence behavior for a lifetime. And so we read:
"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
Abraham Lincoln said, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." He also said, "All that I am or will ever be I owe to my angelic mother." Let us consider then, who else besides him should share credit for freeing the slaves. Susannah Wesley raised John and Charles Wesley, and from them sprang the Methodist church, which precipitated one of the greatest moves of God of that time period. Susannah did not get credit for that move of God on earth, but what about in heaven? Can we not see that she was not only the mother of her own children, but through the work her sons did, she brought spiritual life to countless others?
Hanna and Samuel
Another great mother who changed the course of history was Hanna. Unable to bear children, she travailed in prayer and offered her son to God. Samuel was born, but when her husband asked her to go up to Jerusalem for the sacrifice we read in 1 Samuel:
"But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever." 1Samuel 1:22 (NKJV)
Hannah did not want to leave Samuel in his tender years. Everyday with him was precious, and she wanted to be the one who spoke into his life. And so it was, he became a great man of God, under whose leadership Israel turned from idols. Would he have become that leader without a mother of her caliber?
At the time Samuel was born, the corrupt sons of Eli had made a mockery of the priesthood and the worship of God. Hannah knew this, and it is certain that she was disturbed by it. But what could she do? A woman, particularly in that day, could not confront a priest. She could not be part of the Sanhedrin (the seventy ruling Jews in Israel) and have her say in how the religious life of Israel was conducted. However, what she did do was even more important. She produced the man who would change the entire system. Not just because she had a baby, but because she trained him the ways of God, prayed for him, and loved him.
Paul and Timothy
Paul lamented that even in his time there were so few men of God. Many claimed to be, but he could trust few, according to his statements:
"But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel." Phillippians 2:19-22 (NKJV)
Timothy’s age is estimated at nineteen or twenty. What a wonderful young man he must have been. I pray that God will raise up many more like him today. Nevertheless, where did his commitment to God begin? Was it with Paul? As great a man as Paul was, he was not around when Timothy was taught to revere God and serve him. However, Paul does acknowledge who was responsible:
"When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also." 2Timothy 1:5 (NKJV)
Evidently Timothy’s father was not around. Was Timothy the victim of divorce, or had his father died? We do not know. However, we do know that he was part Jewish and part Greek. (See Acts 16:1). We also know that he had infirmities, although he was young. (See 1Timothy 5:23) Let us consider the obstacles this young man probably faced.
In that day, to be half-Jewish meant you were an outcast. The Samaritans were half-Jewish, and they were hated by the Jews, and by other races. Most likely Timothy faced this bigotry – and evidently without a father to strengthen him. Add to this his lack of health. We all know how cruel children can be to others who are different. Most likely the popular crowd of that day did not like him, or even the fringe crowds. But Eunice prayed, and Lois prayed, and not only did they pray, they taught him the Word of God:
"And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2Timothy 3:15 (NKJV)
Did they also pray for a holy man of God to disciple him? If so, they got the best. Did this boy seem like he had a lot going for him – perhaps not. Did he seem strong? It is doubtful. Nevertheless he had learned to be strong in Christ. For this boy was not only in prison at one time, as we read in Hebrews, "Know that our brother Timothy has been set free, with whom I shall see you if he comes shortly." Hebrews 13:23 (NKJV), he was even sent to lead and encourage those who were suffering persecution. (See 1Thessalonians 3:2,3) What a young man! No father, a victim of bigotry, sickly and looked down upon, and yet his name is mentioned throughout the New Testament as the Apostle Paul’s right hand man. And yet, it all began with Eunice and Lois.
Mothers, it is my deep prayer that you will not be deceived by this perverted world and give up the greatest assignment that a Christian can have. It is not trite to believe that raising your children is the most important thing in the world, it is rather simply the basic truth. The difficult thing about motherhood is that in this glory-hungry world, the true blessing of doing it well is not always known. It is hard to keep giving when you may never get the credit in this world. Nevertheless, there are thousands of stories that will never make the press here, but will be lauded in heaven. The following story might be one of them:
There was an Australian woman who met her husband in World War 2 and immigrated to New York after they married. Her first child was a girl, and she was healthy at birth. However, this was a time when polio was wreaking havoc on children, and the little girl caught that disease. In those days a metal brace was put on the leg which had polio, and also on the other leg to balance it. Because of this, many children ended up with problems in two legs instead of one, because the muscles in the second leg would atrophy. Nevertheless, this was the normal treatment in the late 1940’s.
This woman was pressed by the doctors, but would not consent to the braces. Something seemed to tell her that this was the wrong treatment. Her in-laws had a vacation home in Connecticut, and so she went there with her daughter and used a method she read about – warm compresses and what we today would call physical therapy. The doctors thought it was nonsense, but she persisted.
Those were lonely and trying days, working with her daughter, with tears in her eyes, as she prayed and asked God to heal her little girl. Weeks passed, with no apparent change, but she was patient, and one day she seemed to notice some improvement. She knew from the doctors that a muscle had completely withered in the leg, but now it seemed to be regaining strength. Was the girl getting better, or was it her wishful thinking?
More prayers, but the tears were lessening. Now she was certain there was improvement. But the doctors said it was foolishness, outlandish…and yet, was not God more powerful? The treatments continued and the little girl was completely healed. In fact, the brother and sister who came later into the family never even knew she had had polio, because she did not even have the trace of a limp.
How many other stories of a mother giving of herself are known only to the children of the fortunate family? How many men and women have shown compassion to others because they first received it from their mothers? How many have sacrificed their lives to serve others, on the battlefield, the mission field, or just in the course of normal life, because of the altruism instilled in them by their mothers? How many people are in heaven now, or will be, because a friend prayed for them – a friend who had been motivated to care for others by a godly mother? How many mothers and grandmothers have spent endless hours praying for their children and others, making changes in eternity by their sacrifice?
It is a sad day when society discounts motherhood. But the attack is here, because the enemy knows it is the lifeblood of the Christian life. Motherhood requires the "taking up of the cross" daily, but it also provides the resurrection life that only embracing the cross can bring.
The little girl healed from polio who received kindness from her Australian mother, returns it many times over today as she disciples and prays for other Christians. This is just one of many examples of how kindness and self-sacrifice shown to one generation will be carried forth to another. I mention this one only because I know about it – you see, that Australian woman just happens to be my mother.
By the way, not all women will experience physical motherhood, but as we fulfill Christ’s call in our lives and pray, disciple, and minister to others, we can all share in the spiritual aspect of motherhood. No matter what other gifts or abilities we may have, all of us are called to be a godly example and resource to others. Let us see it as the highest call – for it is truly the wellspring of life.