In Memory of Mother
May 11th, 1980 @ 8:15 AM
IN MEMORY OF MOTHER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
05-11-80 8:15 a.m.
This is the pastor of the First Baptist church in Dallas bringing the message on Mother’s Day entitled In Memory of Mother, or A Tribute to Mother.
In the second chapter of the Book of Exodus, beginning at verse 1, Exodus chapter 2:
There went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of that same family, the house of Levi.
And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
And when she could not longer hide him . . .
He hollered so loud, he cried so loud that you couldn’t hide him.
When she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, daubed with slime and pitch, and put the child therein; and laid it in the flags by the river’s bank.
And his sister . . .
That’s Miriam, or Mary,
, stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
Now the daughter of Pharaoh . . .
That’s the reason she put that ark there, knowing that that’s where Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe.
, the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
There’s not a word in the English language that will take the place of that word, "fetch," yet it has gone out of use altogether. Fetch means "go get and bring back," and there’s no other word that says that but "fetch." And yet we have lost it out of the language. Isn’t that terrible what can happen to us?
She sent her maid to fetch it . . . Go get it and bring it to me.
And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter . . .
That’s little Mary, watching to see what had happened to the ark and the little baby,
Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother.
And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child, nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.
Can you believe God’s providence? Here is this woman, who is supposed to have thrown the child to the crocodiles according to the edict of the king [Exodus 1:22], and now the own mother is paid to nurse her own baby.
And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Ramoses . . .
Ramoses, after the sun god, Rameses. But the Jewish people wouldn’t have any sun god on the name of their great leader, so they left off the "Ra" and just called him Moses. Ramoses – they just left off the "Ra." They called him Moses [Exodus 2:10].
Now we’re going to turn to the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, Hebrews chapter 11:23-26; Hebrews, chapter 11:23-26. "By faith Moses," this Ramoses, "When he was born, was hid three months of his parents, when they saw that he was" – the King James’ Version reads, "a proper child"; asteion, that’s the word for "beautiful, fair." "When they saw that he was an asteion child" [Hebrews 11:23] – a beautiful child; and in defiance of the king’s commandment they refused to slay the little male boy.
And by faith that Ramoses, 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;
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.
It is a hope of the pastor that, in the message this morning, I can pay tribute to a living mother if she lives, and a word worthy her memory if she’s been translated and is with God in heaven.
First a personal word, and I speak for you and for me. It is a remarkable thing how in the Bible these mighty men appear all at once, like Pallas Athena, born full-grown from the brow, the mind of Jove. They just suddenly appear.
John the Baptist, whom the Lord hid in the wilderness until the time of his showing unto Israel, then suddenly his voice is heard [Matthew 3:1]; just, there is John the Baptist, exactly as his prototype and countertype, Elijah the Tishbite. In 1 [Kings] 17, suddenly, he appears before Ahab: "Elijah the Tishbite says to king Ahab," [1 Kings 17:1]. Just as Noah, in the midst of the wrath and judgment of God upon the whole world [Genesis 6:5-7] – then the sentence, "But Noah found grace in His sight" [Genesis 6:8]. Suddenly, there is Noah.
Pretty much the same thing can be said about our Lord Jesus. Just one time when He was twelve years of age does He appear [Luke 2:41-42], but there are twelve silent years, followed by eighteen silent years until suddenly He appears at the baptismal in the Jordan River of John the Baptist [Matthew 3:13-19; Luke 3:21-22]. It’s all like that. Saul of Tarsus just suddenly appears on the scene, when those who were stoning Stephen to death laid their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul [Acts 7:58].
But what we don’t sometimes realize is the deep and deepening significance of those silent years, when the child grew up in the home of his parents. Thus it was with Moses. Moses was reared in Pharaoh’s court. He was heir-apparent to the throne. He was the son of Pharaoh’s daughter [Exodus 2:10].
How was it that he knew all about his people? And how strange is it that, when he was forty years of age, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to be ministered to and bowed before by all of the courtiers in the kingdom of the Pharaoh? [Hebrews 11:24-25].
Where did that come from? The answer is very obvious and needs no elucidation. Moses was taught, by the mother who fed him from her breasts, her people and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was a part of the very fiber that entered into the building of his life. Those silent years that are never mentioned – always brushed over, when suddenly the great man appears – are the most meaningful and formative of all of the years of his life.
While I was down and confined to the room, I read Augustine’s Confessions. Heard about it all my life – for some reason had never read it. So I got me a copy of Augustine’s Confessions, and I read them, something that would do anyone’s heart good to read. He was a wild and ungovernable and grossly sinful youngster and young man, but he had a godly, praying mother by the name of Monica. They lived in Carthage, the city at that time that greatly rivaled the imperial capital at Rome. And the more the mother prayed, the more wild and sinful and debauched did her son Augustine become.
Finally, the pastor of the church in Carthage – apparently, Augustine says, "being weary of her much interceding to him to pray for her son" – finally, the pastor of the church in Carthage said to her, "Mother, go thy way. The child of so many prayers could never be lost." That’s what Augustine writes, and how everlastingly and forever true that is.
These mothers who in patience, and in love, and in infinite care remember us – we don’t ever get away from it. We can’t. I think that’s one reason the Word is so everlastingly true: "You train that child up in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it" [Proverbs 22:6]. He’ll come back. It’s a part of the very fiber of his being, how she taught him and nurtured him in the love and grace of the Lord.
And that leads to this final part of our personal tribute to her, our remembering and our thanksgiving in her love and care.
Who fed me from her gentle breast
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek, sweet kisses pressed?
When sleep forsook my open eye,
Who was it sung sweet lullaby
And rocked me that I should not cry?
Who sat and washed my infant head
When sleeping in my cradle bed
And tears of sweet affection shed?
When pain and sickness made me cry,
Who gazed upon me with heavy eye
And wept for fear that I should die?
Who ran to help me when I fell
And would some pretty story tell
And kiss the place to make it well?
Who taught my infant lips to pray,
To love God’s holy Word and day,
And walk in wisdom’s pleasant way?
And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who was so very kind to me?
And when I see thee hang thy head,
’twill be my turn to watch thy bed
And tears of sweet affection shed.
[Adapted from "My Mother," Jane Taylor]
Our personal tribute to Mother.
Now may I speak for the church, as an emissary and representative of the people of God, an ecclesiastical, churchly tribute to Mother? We cannot succeed without her. The whole course of the kingdom of God fails and disintegrates without that Christian mother. It is, in itself, a strange thing.
I don’t how to explain it, but I watch children whose mothers have failed them. There is repercussion in the life of the child that is disastrous. It is abysmally catastrophic. No matter how you love the child or try to compensate, there is a psychological wrenching in the very warp and woof of the fabric that makes up existence, that child never overcomes.
I see it in our own church among our own children. She is so vitally significant in the building of the life and character of that child, and when the mother does not assume that God-given responsibility, the whole church and the kingdom of God begins to fray and disintegrate.
After fifty-one years of working and watching, praying, appealing, this is one of the tragic, factual, harsh things that I have to face: you will never reach that man if his wife is not in sympathy with him. You may lead him to a personal confession of faith in the Lord Jesus, but you’ll never reach that man for God. For the work of the Lord, for the church, he’ll never be there – never, ever. There’s no exception to it.
If that mother and wife in the home is not sympathetic with her husband loving God and serving the Lord, he will never, ever do it. Even though he will make a tremendous profession and confession and commitment, by the time she gets through with him, he is out there away and gone. I repeat that’s one of the harshest facts I know in life.
But the obverse is no less true. If there is a godly woman in the home, a praying woman, there is a woman who remembers the Lord and depends upon Him, you put it down: that child will never, ever forget – ever.
Where do these fine Christian businessmen come from? Where do these Christian civic leaders come from? Where do these noble men and women come from? They come from the love and prayers of godly mothers. And where do our preachers, and our missionaries, and our staff members, and our consecrated laymen and laywomen come from? They come from our godly Christian mothers.
When I was in Baylor, I rented a little room in a home of an old woman by the name of Rogers – Mrs. Rogers, widowed. Her husband had been a distinguished lawyer in the city of Waco, and they had a home there at the corner right by Brooks Hall. And she lived there by herself, and I rented a little room there and lived in her home. I talked to her often. She had one daughter, and the daughter was a nurse, and she was a missionary in what was then the Belgian Congo in central Africa. And one day, talking to her, I said to her, "I don’t see how you stand it: alone, and the one daughter, the one child you have, is over there in the Belgium Congo in Africa. I don’t see how you stand it." And that woman drew herself up to her best height, and looking at me with eyes aglow, she said, "I can hardly stand it, I am so proud." That’s the stuff out of which God makes our missionaries and our preachers, and our kingdom work – mothers who rejoice in the commitment of their children to the faith of the Lord.
I now speak of heaven’s tribute to our mothers. The best I could, I have spoken of our personal tribute and of our ecclesiastical, churchly tribute. Now, may I speak of heaven’s tribute to our mothers? A Christian mother reflects God more than any other creation of His almighty and omnipotent hand. She is more spiritually sensitive, like God is, than anyone else that I know. I’ll show it to you. You look at it. A mother is never particularly impressed with the fame or the riches of a successful child, never – not a real, godly mother. What the real godly Christian mother wants in the child is not that he be far-famed or successful or rich, but what she wants in the child is a boy or a girl that is noble and worthy and good.
I often think of Mother Truett. I never did get to see her. I wish I could have. She always wore an old-fashioned bonnet. Even upon those occasions when her far-famed son was being honored, if she couldn’t wear her little bonnet, she wouldn’t go – always that humble, sweet, mountain woman from North Carolina, wearing her little bonnet. Her son, George W. Truett, was the most famous preacher in the world. There was none like him. I have never seen anyone like Dr. Truett; no one in the earth. So people would say to Mother Truett, "You must be proud of George W. Truett, your son." And she would inevitably reply, "Yes, but have you heard my son Jim, pastor of a little church up here in North Texas?" That’s a mother. The world lays acclaim and laurels at the feet of the great George W. Truett, but that mother – to her, Jim was just as dear and just as great and just as admired as the famous George W.
This would be a mother. "Out of all of the wonderful children that you have, why is it that you love little lame Robert so much?" And she will reply, "Because he needs me the most, my little lame boy."
I wonder if God is like that! I wonder if God is impressed with our bigness, or our richness, or our famousness, or our abilities! I wonder if God isn’t more impressed with our lameness, and our weaknesses, and our infirmities, and our need of Him. I wonder if God isn’t more impressed.
I never was attendant upon one of them – I don’t live in that world – but on television, and in movie pictures on television, I will see some kind of a gorgeous and pompous state dinner. And there will be a herald, and he will announce "Lord and Lady thus-and-so," and they enter in. And then, he will announce "Duke and Lady so-and-so," and they will enter in. And he will announce "The Marquee and Marques so-and-so," and they will enter in. I’ve seen that on television, and I wonder is heaven going to be like that: they’re going to blow the trumpet, and Gabriel will say, "Thus-and-so, big and famous, are entering into heaven." And the Lord will be impressed? I wonder.
I kind of have the persuasion that what impresses the Lord the most may be some little, humble mother that I never heard of. She may be first in the kingdom of God. What impresses our Lord?
And this is our tribute and heaven’s tribute to our sweet mother – if she’s not alive – waiting for you, for me:
Morning and Evening of Life
A lad stood by his mother’s grave.
His heart was drear and sad.
He had no home. He had no friends,
To make his young heart glad.
He knelt there on his knees and prayed
Beside his mother’s grave, and said,
"Dear Lord, please guide me now through
Life’s long weary days."
Long years passed by.
The eve had come.
The sun was sinking away.
An old man stood upon a hill beside a mound of clay.
His form was bent. His hair was white.
The tears stood in his eyes,
As once again he knelt and prayed,
And unashamed, cries,
"O God, the evening now has come,
And death is drawing nigh.
I thank Thee for Your holy care,
Through all those years gone by."
Knelt there beside his mother’s grave,
As in the years gone by,
He said, "Dear Lord, please guide me home,
To mother in the sky."
That is heaven’s gift for us. Her tears, her love, her care are never lost. They find repercussion in our lives; they have made us what we are. And if your mother has been translated, she waits for that beautiful day when she welcomes us to our home in the skies.
That is our appeal to you. This is the most beautiful and precious moment to give your heart to Jesus you could ever, ever know. This is one of the most precious times to put your life in the fellowship of God’s dear church. Do it now. In a moment, we are going to stand and sing our appeal, all of us waiting here, just for a moment, waiting with a prayer in our hearts, asking God to bless you, a family, who ought to come; a couple you who ought to come; or just one somebody you who ought to come: "Pastor, we are putting our lives here in the church." Welcome. Or "Pastor, I’m accepting Jesus as my Savior." Thrice welcome. Or "Pastor, I’ve accepted the Lord. I want to be baptized as God said in His Book" [Matthew 28:19-20]. Oh, so welcome.
As the Spirit of God shall press the appeal to your heart, make the decision now, right where you sit. And, when you stand up, stand up taking that first step toward God. The Holy Spirit, the angels themselves will accompany you as you walk down that aisle, maybe down that stairway. Make the decision now, and the Lord bless you as only He can bless as you come. Our men will be here. We’ll all be praying and rejoicing in your response. Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.