Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day.....and Happy Birthday Frank

This would be my sermon for today if I were preaching somewhere....but I am not.  It is a sermon on a Mother's Love.  Today I have to think about my mom...and the mom I have been so far....and I have to say that mom's wear a lot of hats.  Mothers are teachers. Mothers are disciplinarians. Mothers are cleaning ladies. Some mothers are gardeners & mowers of lawns. And most mothers understand that baking cookies is more important than washing windows. Mothers are nurses & doctors & psychologists & counselors & chauffeurs & coaches. Mothers are developers of personalities, molders of vocabularies, & shapers of attitudes. Mothers are soft voices saying, "I love you." And mothers are a link to God, a child’s first impression of God’s love. Mothers are all of these things & much, much more. One of my favorite columns by Erma Bombeck tells of God in the act of creating mothers. She says that on the day God created mothers He had already worked long overtime. And an angel said to Him, "Lord, you sure are spending a lot of time on this one." The Lord turned & said, "Have you read the specs on this model? She is supposed to be completely washable, but not plastic. She is to have 180 moving parts, all of them replaceable. She is to have a kiss that will heal everything from a broken leg to a broken heart. She is to have a lap that will disappear whenever she stands up. She is to be able to function on black coffee & leftovers. And she is supposed to have six pairs of hands." "Six pairs of hands," said the angel, "that’s impossible." "It’s not the six pairs of hands that bother me." said the Lord, "It’s the three pairs of eyes. She is supposed to have one pair that sees through closed doors so that whenever she says, `What are you kids doing in there?’ she already knows what they’re doing in there." "She has another pair in the back of her head to see all the things she is not supposed to see but must see. And then she has one pair right in front that can look at a child that just goofed & communicate love & understanding without saying a word." "That’s too much." said the angel, "You can’t put that much in one model. Why don’t you rest for a while & resume your creating tomorrow?"  "No, I can’t," said the Lord. "I’m close to creating someone very much like myself. I’ve already come up with a model who can heal herself when she is sick - who can feed a family of six with one pound of hamburger - & who can persuade a nine year old to take a shower." Then the angel looked at the model of motherhood a little more closely & said, "She’s too soft." "Oh, but she is tough," said the Lord. "You’d be surprised at how much this mother can do." "Can she think?" asked the angel. "Not only can she think," said the Lord, "but she can reason & compromise & persuade." Then the angel reached over & touched her cheek. "This one has a leak," he said. "I told you that you couldn’t put that much in one model." "That’s not a leak," said the Lord. "That’s a tear." "What’s a tear for?" asked the angel. "Well it’s for joy, for sadness, for sorrow, for disappointment, for pride." "You’re a genius," said the angel. And the Lord said, "Oh, but I didn’t put it there." Maybe with this in mind we can better understand Mrs. Zebedee, the mother of James & John. Matthew 20:20-23 says: "Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons &, kneeling down, asked a favor of Him. `What is it you want?’ He asked. "She said, Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right & the other at your left in your kingdom.’ "`You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. `Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ `We can,’ they answered. "Jesus said to them, `You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’" Mrs. Zebedee was aware of the teachings of Jesus about His kingdom. She was also very aware of the fact that her sons, James & John, were close to Him. They were two-thirds of the inner circle of Peter, James, & John. So she was certain that when the Lord formed His kingdom that they would have positions of responsibility & authority. But in the first part of this same chapter, Jesus tells a story that must have disturbed her. It was a story about a landowner who went out to find laborers early in the morning. They agreed upon a fair day’s wage & started working. Then at noon he went out & found some more, & they started working. Then towards evening he went out & found some more & they started working. Yet, when the Lord paid them off at the end of the day they all received the same wage. It must have caused Mrs. Zebedee to wonder, "Will my sons really have positions of authority in the Lord’s new kingdom?" So when the opportunity presented itself she came to the Lord. Matthew says that she bowed before Him & made this request, "When you establish your kingdom, I would request seats on your right & left hand for my two sons." We might very well criticize Mrs. Zebedee for her presumptuousness. But since today is Mother’s Day, maybe we ought to think for a few moments concerning some positive things about Mrs. Zebedee.  We need also to recognize that when she came to Jesus, while Jesus did not grant her request, neither did he deny it. He simply reminded her of the cost of being seated on the right or left & then told her that it is the Father who determines who will be seated there. SHE PRAYED THAT HER SONS MIGHT BE A PART OF THE KINGDOM:
Now, what are some of the good things about Mrs. Zebedee? First of all, she came to the Lord, praying that her sons might be a part of His Kingdom. I can think of no more important task of motherhood than that - to seek to ensure that your children are a part of the Kingdom of God.  I know that many mothers pray. Sometimes they pray out of necessity. Sometimes they pray because motherhood is not easy, but extremely difficult. James Dobson tells about a time he came home when his son, Ryan, was a small baby. It had been a terrible day for his wife. Ryan had been sick, & had cried all day long. Once, as she was changing his diapers, the telephone rang & Shirley reached over to answer it before fastening up his diapers. Just then Ryan had an attack of diarrhea.She cleaned up that mess & put him in clean, sweet-smelling clothes. Then she took him into the living room & fed him. As she was burping him he threw up all over himself, & her, & the couch, too. Dobson writes, "When I came home I could smell the aroma of motherhood everywhere." Shirley cried out to him, "I don’t remember all of this in my contract?"   Sometimes mothers pray just out of the frustration of it all. And sometimes in the frustration of trying to teach our children we realize the difficulties of communication. I remember very clearly the time I gave my nine-year-old son, Eric, a very important responsibility. I told Eric to watch Kathryn, his baby sister, while I stepped out of the room. I had only been gone a few moments when he heard a thump, & then Kathryn started crying.  I rushed back in to find that Kathryn had fallen from Eric’s shoulders and was stretched out on the floor with a bloody nose and busted lip. Meanwhile, Eric just stood there, looking so innocent…with nothing to say. I said, "Eric, I told you to watch her." Eric answered, "I did." He watched her fall & he watched her cry. He did exactly what he was told to do. Being a parent is not easy. Sometimes it is filled with joy & sometimes with sadness. Sometimes your children make you so proud you want to pop your buttons. At other times you can’t find enough handkerchiefs to dry your tears. What good is it if our children are successful in making money, & driving fine automobiles, & living in good neighborhoods, but they don’t know God? What does it matter if they gain the whole world, but lose their souls? Being a parent is not easy. It is difficult. But Mrs. Zebedee gives us a valuable example, for she prayed earnestly that her sons would be a part of His kingdom. We need that same concern for our children. I hope that in the heart of every mother & father here this morning there is a burden to go to the throne of God & to pray for your children - to pray that they will be saved, saved for eternal life. That is the place to begin. SHE PRAYED THAT HER SONS WOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE WORK OF HIS KINGDOM:  Secondly, not only did Mrs. Zebedee pray that her children would be a part of His kingdom, but she prayed that they would be actively involved in the work of His kingdom. Maybe it is not enough just to be saved. Churches are full of people content just to fill a pew on Sunday mornings. There are plenty of people willing to sit back & receive the blessings, but seldom do they get involved in doing any of the real work of the church. But where does the spirit of service begin? It begins at home, with mothers & fathers setting the example & praying that their sons & daughters might be involved in the work of the kingdom - as teachers & leaders, discipling others - that they might be the ones to go out into the world & find the lost - to see that the church continues on until Jesus comes again. Mrs. Zebedee prayed that her children would be actively involved in the work of His kingdom. And we need to walk in her footsteps, too.  SHE HAD SOME BIG EXPECTATIONS:  Thirdly, Mrs. Zebedee had big expectations, & I like that. She didn’t just pray that her children would be doorkeepers. She wanted them on the right hand & left hand of Jesus. When you’re working in a kingdom, there are no higher positions than those on the right & left of the King himself, & that’s what she wanted for her sons.  We may consider Mrs. Zebedee brash & presumptuous. But I admire her boldness. Too often we have settled for mediocrity in the church. For too long we have been content with just barely making it through the door. For too long we have been content to sit back & let things happen. It is time for some of us to take our positions on the right & left hand, to become leaders - molding & fashioning the outreach of the church - mobilizing to make sure the message of Christ goes into all the world. It is time to strive for excellence - to reach for the very best there is. The Lord calls us to be His disciples, & to be effective laborers in His kingdom. Do you remember? Erma Bombeck had God saying as He was creating a mother, "I am close to creating something very much like myself."  Well, I suppose that is why today is very special - because we recognize that a mother’s love is probably the closest example we have to God’s love. It is a love that goes through the valley of the shadow of death to bring life into being. It is a love that sacrifices itself over & over again & would even dare to lay down its life for its own offspring. The story is told - out of WW 2 & the holocaust that took the lives of millions of people - of Solomon Rosenberg & his family. It is a true story. Solomon Rosenberg & his wife & their 2 sons & his mother & father were arrested & placed in a Nazi concentration camp. It was a labor camp, & the rules were simple. "As long as you can do your work, you are permitted to live. When you become too weak to do your work, then you are exterminated. Rosenberg watched his mother & father marched off to their deaths, & he knew that next would be his youngest son, David, because David had always been a frail child. Every evening Rosenberg came back into the barracks after his hours of labor & searched for the faces of his family. When he found them they would huddle together, embrace one another, & thank God for another day of life. One day Rosenberg came back & didn’t see those familiar faces. He finally discovered his oldest son, Joshua, in a corner, huddled, weeping, & praying. He said, "Josh, tell me it’s not true." Joshua turned & said, "It is true, poppa. Today David was not strong enough to do his work. So they came for him." "But where is your mother?" asked Mr. Rosenberg. "Oh poppa," he said, "When they came for David, he was afraid & he cried. Momma said, `There is nothing to be afraid of, David,’ & she took his hand & went with him." That is motherhood. Mothers, this is your day. May God bless you in it. And I pray that if there is someone here who has never experienced the love of God that is so close to the love of a mother, that this will be your time of decision.  I pray that if you have felt that you have had to walk through that valley alone so many times, that you will recognize that there is a hand reaching out to you, saying, "There is nothing to be afraid of. I’ll go with you."  And I pray that you will recognize that that one has already gone through the valley of the shadow for you, & made it possible for you to live forever. He extends His loving invitation in much the same way that a mother opens the doors of home & invites her children to come back again, He invites you, too. How cool is that?
P.S. and certainly not a post script, or something I left out....but today is also very important because it is my sweetheart, Frank's 14 anniversary of his 39 birthday.  What a great gift his mother got on Mother's precious husband.  Happy Birthday darling man....I hope we celebrate many more of your anniversaries.  God Bless All the Mom's out there today....and my sweet man!


Mary said...

14th anniversary of his 39th birthday! LOVE IT! Me, I'm not going past 29! ;)
Great post! Happy Mother's Day, and Happy "Anniversary" to Frank!

Deb said...

Happy Anniversary/B'day to your sweet hub!

Love this post, Karen.

Especially the part about how God created woman. The tear got me good.

So glad that our blogging paths have crossed.

Happy Mother's Day to you!

Sweet dreams.

Queenie Jeannie said...

What a beautiful, perfect post! It made me cry but in a good way. Thank you for my blessing!!!