There are countless stories I could tell you about how much my mom meant to me. But there is one that captures the essence of who she was and the effect that she had on my life.
One Sunday when I was 10 years old, my mother informed me that each morning before school, she and I would begin studying the bible by reading the Daily Walk magazine. It was a daily lesson, complete with a story, scriptures, and how to apply it to your life. Being a typical 10-year-old, I whined and complained about how I would have to wake up even earlier and give up some of my time playing Atari. I was getting pretty good at Space Invaders and this would hinder my progress at getting to the next levels, I told her.
“There are important lessons in the bible that you will need later in life,” she said. “It will help you deal with the trials and tribulations that will come.”
Now, the only trials and tribulations I could even think of at that age of 10 was getting my bike stolen or one of my friends moving away.
Reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed every morning and joined her. After reading the materials, she would ask me what I learned. At first it was very difficult understanding the context of the stories and lessons, but after awhile, they started to make sense.
I didn’t even realize that our time together was itself fulfilling a biblical lesson.
Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it
Our studies continued for many years, until I left for college. I knew what the bible said about living a Godly life, but when I got out on my own, I was determined to do things my way. While I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior many years before, he wasn’t really the Lord of my life. I didn’t read the bible regularly, nor did I consistently follow its advice.
Then, just as my mother had warned me, the trials and tribulations began. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in 1996. I myself was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1997. My father began having heart problems, while several family members passed away over the years. With each event, I kept going back to the bible for comfort and guidance. All those years studying it with my mom were beginning to pay dividends.
Now I know I don’t look it, but I just turned 40 this year. I have a beautiful wife and son. I have a great job and am surrounded by loving family members and friends. Yet, I know more trials are coming.
But I am certain that this little book, which I like to call Life’s instruction manual, will get me through each of them.
When I’m faced with a trial, I take comfort in:
James 1: 2-4: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
When the economy is tanking and people all around me are being laid off:
Matthew 6: 33-34: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
When I come to a fork in the road and don’t know what to do:
Proverbs 19:21: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
When I begin to feel fearful:
Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
If I start to wallow in self-doubt:
Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
And when I can’t get my wife Julie to do something, I gently remind her of:
Genesis 2:18: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
While my mother taught me many valuable lessons over the years, it was the morning time spent with her studying the word that changed my life and made me who I am today. As I do the same with my son, he will become the man God wants him to be, and my mom will be so proud of both of us.
As we celebrate her life, let us take time to reflect on how she changed each of ours’.
In closing, I will leave you with one of my mom’s favorite scriptures. I know she found great comfort in it and so will you.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.