Looking back, I often regret that I did not give my mother an easier time of things. I was often stubborn and disrespectful as a teenager, and I know that she often felt as if she was struggling in vain against insurmountable odds to see her child turn out right.
I suppose a lot of mothers feel that way.
Perhaps no mother ever, though, felt that way any more so than a lady named Jochabed, who lived more than 3,000 years ago. Her name is likely unfamiliar to you. But the name of her son will not be.
Jochabed was the mother of Moses.
With Moses, stubbornness and disrespect were not the issue at all. The issue was that mama Jochabed would only have three to five years to raise him and then would have to turn him over to another mother, a radically different mother with diametrically opposed beliefs, to finish raising him. Making the matter even more of a daunting challenge, this other mother was the feisty daughter of the Pharaoh himself, quite probably the strong-willed Hatshepsut.
So Jochabed would have only the years of infancy and toddlerhood to work with, while Pharaoh's daughter would have the next 35 years, including all of what we would call the "school-age years" to mold and shape Moses in her ideals, her ways, her beliefs.
The deck was heavily stacked against Jochabed. What could she possibly do in just the first few years of a child's life that could withstand the onslaught of the next 35 years in the palace? That Moses was thoroughly educated and indoctrinated as an Egyptian is attested to by Acts 7:22, which tells us that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds."
And yet, when Moses reached 40 years of age and evaluated his options, he made the most remarkable choice. Hebrews 11:24-25 says, "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."
The jaw-dropping magnitude of that choice cannot be overstated. Moses literally laid down life as the prince of Egypt and embraced a life of affliction instead. The only training he ever had in righteousness was the 1,500 or so first and earliest days of his life; and yet the impact of a godly mother, a child's primary instructor in those days, was enough.
Moses, more than 3,000 years later, is to this day one of the most revered figures on Earth, held in nearly inestimable esteem by 4 billion to 5 billion people — Jews, Christians and Muslims. Moses laid down a life of sensual pleasure and rose up as a deliverer of the oppressed. Moses stood up to Pharaoh. Moses through God's power leveled Egypt with a series of 10 consecutive plagues culminating in the Passover. Moses spoke with God face-to-face. Moses received the law of God, written by the very finger of God.
Moses led his people through the wilderness, turning a bunch of unruly, undisciplined, disjointed, frightened people into an actual nation complete with laws, an army and a unifying purpose.
What I am saying, dear mother, is that even when you feel like there is no hope, you are likely having a far greater impact than you realize.
As we celebrate Mother's Day, understand that while your job is often monumentally difficult, it is still largely true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Never stop teaching, never stop pushing, never stop praying, never stop fighting, never stop believing, never stop hoping.
My mother kept my hyper fanny on a church pew as a child; now she sits in the pews as her son, her pastor, preaches the Word each week. She held the line when I was a surly teenager, never so much as flinching. Now she is watching me raise her grandchildren for God through their teen years.
Happy Mother's Day, all you mothers. Now go check on your kids. If they are like I was, in the time you have been reading this, they have already gotten themselves into a situation requiring your intervention.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.