To tie in with the Mothering Sunday’s activities, we had to have a story about mothering, or a mother in the Bible. Mary the mother of Jesus obviously came to mind, so did Hannah who prayed earnestly for a baby and Samuel came along, but I decided on Moses’ mother Jochebed again.
The original Moses basket
I read the kids the story of Moses, how he was born at a time where Pharaoh the king of Egypt wasn’t at all well-disposed towards the Israelites. He ordered that all the male babies be thrown into the river Nile and be killed. Moses’ mother clearly didn’t want to do that, but how can you defy the king and get away with it? So she made a basket from reeds, waterproofed it with tar, put it in the river complete with baby Moses. Anything’s better than letting your child be killed, even having to part with your baby, not knowing whether he’ll live or die. But you have to take that chance when you know that keeping him would mean certain death for the baby and perhaps disaster for the rest of your family.
Moses’ sister Miriam hung around by the river to see what would happen. Lo and behold, Pharaoh’s daughter came to bathe, found the baby and wanted to keep him as her own son. Miriam, seeing that the princess showed kindness and compassion towards her brother, suggested to find a nurse to look after him. Miriam ran back to get her mother, so Moses’ mother got to take care of him until he was old enough to be taken to Pharaoh’s daughter to adopt him.
Some interpretations of the story have it that Jochebed Moses’ birth mother had it all planned out, that it was jolly clever of her to send Moses in the basket down the river towards the place where Pharaoh’s daughter was going to bathe. Now I’m not so sure if Jochebed really thought it all out. How could you predict what Pharaoh’s daughter would do? I think that she wasn’t sure at all if she’ll ever see Moses again…
Qualities of a good mother
I asked our group of children what qualities they thought a good mother would have. Some said being kind, caring, giving you things (well, we put that down as “providing for your basic needs”), making yummy food and being nice. These are all very true and valid answers, and we thanked God for our mothers.
However, thinking of Moses’ mother, what would a good mother look like when you’re in a bad situation? I believe that any good mother in difficult circumstances would put their child’s safety and best interests first. Like Jochebed, they’d be brave and protective, and if it means taking risks in order to try and give their child a chance in life and a future, they would. That is love! Not the fuzzy warm feelings you have or the gooey mess you’d turn into when a cute baby smiles at you, but the selfless things you’d do for a helpless child even if it costs you your very self.
My thoughts turn to all the mothers in recent years who have been separated from their children because of war, conflict, and difficult regimes of their countries. Perhaps like Jochobed, they know that there is only so much they can do in their own strength, and then pray that God would take care of their families. And we join with them in praying for peace and justice and for reunion of families.
“Let go, and let God”
I remember that in my late teens I went with my older sister to visit a friend in hospital soon after she’d given birth to her child. This young Mum was clearly overjoyed having brought a beautiful baby into the world, but what I remember most clearly was her words, “I used to think with all the bad things that happen in the world, I wouldn’t want to bring a child into it. Yet here I am, and I’m very glad to have done it!”
Years later I understood the blessings of motherhood – the joy of watching your babies grow and learn, and how they develop their characters. I also understood quite early on that how you imagined it to be can be quite different to how it actually is. You can try and influence your children, but you can’t entirely control what they’ll do. All your best laid-out plans and efforts can suddenly be changed or discarded, and you just have to go with the flow. Or sometimes circumstances conspire against you. At such moments, it really is “let go, and let God”. And God has a habit of making something of what you surrender to Him. Just look at Moses!
Happy Mother’s Day!