As many of you know, I am married to an incredible woman named Brenda. But what you may not know is that Brenda had a younger sister named Sandy who died in 1985 at the age of 27. Sandy contracted breast cancer when she was carrying her first child and she left her husband Lance with a 13 month old toddler when she died. For the last several months of Sandy's life and for almost a year after that, Lance's mother moved in with that family. She slept in the corner of the living room in their one bedroom apartment and she would see her own husband on the weekends when he would drive up to New York from Delaware. Lance's mom got up at night with the baby, she changed the baby, walked the baby, fed the baby, she fixed all the meals, she did the laundry, she cleaned the house, she tried to encourage and comfort her son spiritually and then she would collapse into bed every night exhausted to rest up for another day just like the one that had ended. And I remember once when I was up in New York visiting Lance and watching what his mom was doing every day that I said to her, I said, I'm just curious, how do you feel about being here and doing all that and I'll never forget what she said to me. She said, one day, Lon, Lance is going to remarry and I'll be able to go back home.
She said, when that day comes, I want to have no regrets. Now, I'm 61 years old. You say, well, you don't look like it. Well, God bless you. And God bless you over there.
I am. And you know, I have to tell you, I have some regrets in my life. I bet you you have some regrets in your life, too. Hey, wouldn't it be a wonderful thing? Just think how different the world would be if God gave every one of us five instant replays a year. Wouldn't that be wonderful where we could go back and we could change something we said or change something we did or change something we wish we would have done that we didn't do.
It is a great idea. But, you know, we all realize that life happens in real time and there are no instant replays. Now, you say, well, Lon, this is all very interesting. But what does this have to do with Mother's Day?
Well, a lot. Because, friends, just like life, mothering happens in real time also. We can't go back and reraise our children.
We can't revisit the years gone by or recapture lost opportunities and time. And so today what I want to talk to us about is about mothering without regrets or at least mothering with as few regrets as possible. And I want to talk to you. I want to use actually the great woman of God, Hannah, from the Old Testament as our example. And I want to distill out of her life three cardinal principles that lie at the heart of how to do mothering with no regrets. Now, let me just say that this is not just for moms and grandmoms and future moms, but, guys, as dads and granddads and future dads, there's a lot in here for us as well. So pay attention.
Here we go. Number one, want to be a mom that does her mothering with few regrets? Then number one, let's follow Hannah's example in that Hannah saw her children as a direct gift from God. Before we dig into 1 Samuel Chapter 1, let me give you just a little bit of background. We meet in this chapter a gentleman named Elkanah who had two wives.
Peninnah, his first wife, had lots of children, and Hannah, his second wife, had none. And she was devastated by this fact, and we pick up the story as Elkanah and his wives and family all are on their way to Shiloh to worship the Lord at the tabernacle there. Remember, the temple in Jerusalem is not built yet, so people go to the tabernacle to worship in Shiloh.
Here we go. 1 Samuel Chapter 1, Verse 10. In bitterness of soul, there at the tabernacle, the Bible says, Hannah wept and prayed before the Lord. And she made a vow and said, O Lord, if you will look upon my anguish and remember me and give me a son, then I will give him back to you all the days of his life. It's very interesting to me the word that Hannah uses here to describe her heart, her feelings. She uses the word anguish, and as every woman knows, that's because the pain of childlessness is a deep and gripping pain. But being a godly woman, Hannah knew where to take that pain. She took that pain directly to the Lord, and I know that there are some of us here today that are in the very same situation as Hannah.
We've tried to have children, and so far we haven't been able to. And I would like to say to you as your pastor that I have no idea why God has chosen to put you through that pain, but I can tell you where to take it. I can tell you what to do with it. What you do with it is you take it directly to the Lord Jesus, just like Hannah did, and you trust God to do what he knows is best for you. Ladies, this is what faith is all about. Faith means trusting God's choices for our lives, even when we don't understand them, and even when we don't agree with them or even like them. And my prayer is that if you are in Hannah's situation today, that you will be able to walk by faith just like she did.
Well, let's go on and see what happened. Verse 19, 1 Samuel 1, then they went back home, and Elkanah had relations with Hannah, his wife. And the Lord remembered Hannah, and she conceived and bore a son. And Hannah named him Samuel, in Hebrew, Shmuel, which literally means asked of the Lord, because she said, I asked him of the Lord. Now, this is the important point that I want us to see here, and that is that Hannah did not see her son Samuel as a product of biology or as a byproduct of sex or as a product of good family planning, nor did she see him as just a lucky coincidence.
She, to the contrary, saw her son Samuel as a direct gift from God to her as a sacred trust that the Lord had given to her. I want to share some very disturbing statistics with you. Here in the United States of America, number one, more than 200,000 children are physically abused by their parents every year.
That's just the ones we know about. Here in America, number two, of those same children, half are also sexually abused by their parents. Number three, in the United States of America, the number one killer of children under the age of five is not poison or car accidents, it's child abuse.
And this doesn't even cover the horrors of verbal abuse, which may not land a child in the emergency room, but that abuse will do as much damage to a child as any fist can do. So I ask myself the question, what's responsible for this upswing in violence towards children by their very own parents, and I am solemnly convinced, it is my solemn belief, that the answer is the fact that in our culture, we simply don't see our children the way Hannah saw her children. Here in America, we see children as the byproduct of biology or the byproduct of technology. We see them as little people who often come in and interrupt our plans for life and people that we have to put up with and put up with the burdens they bring on us until they reach 18 and we can get them to leave home. And then they still don't leave, they come back at 22.
So you still don't get rid of them. This is how our culture portrays children. But friends, this is not at all the view of the Bible when it comes to children. Psalm 127 verse 3, the Bible says, Children are a gift from the Lord.
How blessed is the person whose quiver is full of them. And I love what Jacob said after he and his brother Esau had been separated for 20 years and they meet up. And Esau said, Who are all these people you have with you? And Jacob said, These are the children that the Lord has graciously given me. Listen here, Mom, if you are a mother here today, the Bible is crystal clear about the fact that your child, whether that child is tall or short, whether that child is strong or weak, whether that child is a normally developing child or a child loaded down with disabilities, it doesn't matter. The Bible is clear that God designed that child for you and He designed you as a mom for that child. That child was a direct, specific gift from Almighty God to you, a sacred trust that God gave to you.
And as such, our children should be treated softly and gently and with tender, loving care. You know, a few years after my dad died, my mother remarried a gentleman named Harry and they did the wedding up here in northern Virginia. They came up to our house and we did the wedding in my house. And on the screen, you see a picture of my mom and Harry, along with the two children we had at the time.
My oldest son, Jamie, and my now middle son, Justin. And I had bought some sparkling cider, you know, for a toast after the ceremony. So when the ceremony was done, Justin, who was about four at the time, said, Daddy, I'll go get the glasses for the toast. And I said, sure.
OK, fine. So we just kind of kept on talking and off he went. A few minutes later, we heard him coming up the steps and we heard this clanging sound as he was coming up the steps.
And all of a sudden, we all looked at each other and we immediately knew what had just happened. Justin had gone downstairs into the china cupboard and he had gotten out our fine crystal that we had been given for our wedding. And he was bringing these crystal goblets up the steps for the toast. But the way he was carrying them in his little hands is he had the stems all between his fingers and the goblets hanging down. And as he was carrying them, the goblets are all banging together, coming up the steps. We all screamed, Justin, stop.
And we all ran at once to rescue the crystal. Now, can you imagine us having that kind of a response if Justin had been carrying Tupperware up the stairs? Of course not. Why? Well, the difference is Tupperware is designed for rough treatment.
Crystal isn't. And friends, what the Bible is trying to say to us here in principle number one about mothering with no regrets is that we need to see our children as fine crystal, not as Tupperware. And this is an area where parents often have severe regrets because our children can so easily exasperate us.
Our children can so easily push us right to the edge where we're tempted to do something or say something harsh to them. And so I have a little mantra to suggest to you to use at that moment. It was one I used often when I was raising our children. I used to often stop right at that moment and say, Lord Crystal, not Tupperware. Lord Crystal, not Tupperware. Help me, Jesus.
Crystal, not Tupperware. Number two, want to do mothering with no regrets? Then not only do I recommend that we see our children as sacred trust from God and treat them like crystal, but number two, we need to follow Hannah's example in that Hannah, second of all, put her children squarely in the path of God. First Samuel Chapter one, verse 24 says, Now, when she had weaned to him, she took Samuel with her as young as he was. You say, well, how old was he?
Well, according to our best calculations, Samuel at this point was probably somewhere between two and three years old, as young as he was. And Hannah brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. Then she brought the boy to Eli, the high priest, and she said, I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.
And Samuel remained there and worshiped the Lord. Do we all understand what just happened here? Hannah takes her three year old child, brings him to Eli, the high priest there at the tabernacle, and leaves him there and goes back home.
You say, well, Lon, that makes no sense. I mean, why in the world would a woman leave a three year old child like that? Why would she turn loose of a little child like that?
Well, it's very simple, my friends. Hannah wanted her son to know God, to understand God, to walk with God. So she put him in the place where his spiritual life had the greatest opportunity to be cultivated. She put him right there at the tabernacle where the worship of God was carried on under the tutelage of Eli, the high priest, the godly man, where all the Israelites came to worship.
That's where she put him, even though it cost her something to give him up. Ladies, this is what godly mothers do. Godly mothers cultivate the spiritual life of their children.
They do it deliberately, and they do it intentionally, and they do it aggressively. You say, wait a minute, Lon, wait a, wait a, wait a, wait a minute. Don't you believe that fathers ought to be involved in the cultivation of their children's spiritual life too? Absolutely I do. Absolutely. And I was when our children were growing up, but friends, whether a dad is involved or not, godly mothers still are fanatical about cultivating the spiritual life of their children.
You say, all right, Lon, so what does this really look like? If I wanted to be a godly mother cultivating the spiritual life of my children, what does that mean? Does that mean that I should bring my three-year-old child and drop him here at church with you? Is that what that means?
Don't you dare do that. No, no, no, I did my duty to God in my country. No, no, you keep your three-year-old with you. No, no, let me tell you what it does mean. It means you do some of the kinds of things I'm going to suggest to you. Number one, what does it look like to spiritually cultivate our children? Number one, it means when they're babies, when they're up in the middle of the night. When we're rocking them to sleep, that we sing to them songs about Jesus and not row, row, row your boat. Number two, when our children are toddlers, it means that we read to them at night Bible stories, not Curious George and not Mike Mulligan in the steam shovel. Read to them the word of God and teach them how to pray and we get down on our knees with them and we pray with them. Number three, it means having Christian music playing throughout our house all day long.
So our children are taking it in and they don't even know they're taking it in. It means number four, putting scripture on our walls and on our mirrors and on our refrigerators. So everywhere that child looks, they see the word of God in our house. Number five, it means making sure that our children are in kids quest every single weekend that we're in town and that they're healthy. Number six, it means that we get our children into Awana and we help them memorize the word of God and implant the word of God into their souls.
Number seven, it means when our children disobey, we discipline them. Friends, Godly discipline that is done correctly is an enormous opportunity to teach our children about God, to teach them about the justice of God and the mercy of God and the forgiveness of God and the unconditional love of God. And if you're not sure how to do Godly discipline correctly, I'd like to recommend you go get a book in our bookstore, the finest book I've ever read on the subject. It's written by Dr. James Dobson and it's called Dare to Discipline.
Brenda and I read it when we were young. We followed it and I want to urge you to read it and to do what he says. I'm telling you, great opportunity is lost when people don't discipline their children biblically. Number eight, when we have teenagers, making an impact on their life for Christ means that we make sure junior and senior high group are non-negotiable.
Sunday morning, Wednesday night, weekend activities, missions trips, summer camp, winter camp. You know, God gave Brenda and me the privilege of raising three boys. Jamie, our oldest, Justin, our middle son and John, our youngest son.
And they're all walking with the Lord today for which I am incredibly grateful to God and I give him the glory for that. But when our youngest son John was 16, we had an argument one day about the fact that Brenda and I made him go to every senior high event that McLean Bible Church had. And as part of the argument, he said, he said, don't I get any say in this? And I said, no, you don't.
Every time the senior high group has an activity, every teenager named Solomon is there. He said, well, I don't really think that's very fair and I don't really think that's taking me into consideration and blah, blah, blah. And I said, John, I'm sorry, but let me tell you something. This is exactly what I said to him.
I said, John, as it was with Jamie and as it was with Justin, so it will be with John world without end. Amen. Yes, sir. Now, he wasn't real thrilled about that. I thought it was hysterical myself. I still think it's funny. All right. And that's what we did.
There was no discussion about this. Number nine, if you want to cultivate the spiritual life of your children, here's another suggestion. Reward your teenagers for having their quiet time. We used to double our children's allowance any week that they had five nights of quiet time out of the seven nights.
Why? Because we wanted to encourage them to be in the word of God. And let me say finally, number 10, moms, don't forget, it's not just about what we make our children do.
It's also about what we model for them. Do our children see us reading and studying the word of God? Do our children see us submitting to the authority of God's word over every part of our life? Do our children see us praying about the everyday issues of life?
Lost keys, parking spaces, whatever. Do our children see us as moms living authentic Christian lives? Now to do this, ladies, takes a lot of energy.
It takes a lot of output. But I need to tell you in 30 years of pastoral counseling, the number one lament that I hear from parents whose children are grown is that they regret that they did not spend more time intentionally cultivating that child's life when they were younger. Don't have that regret, mom.
Do it. Number three and finally, mothering with no regrets means, number three, that we follow Hannah's example in the third, Hannah sacrificed for her children. 1 Samuel 2 verse 18 says, Now Samuel was ministering before the Lord in Shiloh, and each year his mother would make him a new robe and bring it up to him when she came with her husband to offer their annual sacrifice. Now in these verses, do you see personal sacrifice on the part of Hannah? Because I do.
Think about it now. Hannah took time that she could have been spending on herself, and instead she spent it making robes for her son. Hannah took effort that she could have been spending on herself. She took money that she could have been spending on herself, and instead she spent it on her son Samuel.
And this is not even mentioning the mental energy and the spiritual energy and the emotional energy that she certainly spent thinking about Samuel, worrying about Samuel, writing Samuel, praying for Samuel. You know, when Brendan and I were very young parents, a dear godly lady one time said something to us that really formed the warp and the woof of much of how we did our parenting. This lady said, and I quote, she said, You either sacrifice for your children or you sacrifice your children. And you know, we live in a world today where moms are told that raising children doesn't mean that they have to sacrifice their career or that they have to sacrifice their achievements or their fame or their personal fitness or their clothing or the kind of car they want to drive. And look, I'm all for moms living a well-balanced life.
Don't get me wrong. But when push comes to shove, we all know this lady, something has got to be priority number one. And if we want to be mothers who have the fewest regrets possible later in life, it means that the number one priority in life right behind the Lord Jesus Christ and right behind the health of our marriage cannot be our car, our clothing, our career, our achievements or anything else.
It has to be our children. And so, Mom, when you come home exhausted from a long day at work or you come in exhausted from a long day of running the carpool and you're unable to drive yet teenager says to you, Hey, Mom, can you take me to the rock tonight? Well, you either sacrifice for your children, ladies, or you sacrifice your children. Your five-year-old on Sunday afternoon says, Hey, Mom, can you run me back into a wanna tonight?
And you just got home from church two hours ago. Hey, we either sacrifice for our children or we sacrifice our children. When your teenager asks you to go to winter camp using the money that you had already set aside for something else, when your teenager asks you to use up some of your vacation time so that you can go with him or her on a mission strip to South America or Africa or someplace else, when it's time to have devotions with your child at night or to help them with their memory verses and you're so exhausted that all you wanna do is collapse into bed or when it's time for you to have your own quiet time where you pray for those children and where you recharge yourself spiritually so you can be the kind of mother that they need, but all you really want to do is go to sleep, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Friends, we either sacrifice for our children or we sacrifice our children. I ran into a little, I guess the word for it is a story. It's a very short story called Laughter in the Walls that speaks to this. It's by Bob Benson and it really meant a lot to me. I hope it will to you.
Here's how it goes and I quote, I pass a lot of houses on my way home, some pretty, some expensive, some inviting, but my heart always skips a beat when I turn down the road and see my house. I guess I'm especially proud of it and the way it looks because I drew the plans myself. It started out plenty large for us.
I even had a study. Two teenage boys reside there now and it had a guest room. My girl and nine dolls are the permanent residents there now and it had a small room Peg had hoped would be her sewing room, but two boys swinging on the Dutch door have claimed this room as their own.
So it really doesn't look right now like I'm much of an architect, but it will get larger later again. One by one they will go away to work, to college, to the service, to their own houses, and then there will be plenty of room for just the two of us. But it won't be empty. Every corner, every room, every nick in the coffee table will be crowded with memories, memories of picnics and parties and Christmases and bedside vigils and winters and summers and leaving for vacation, memories of cats and dogs and black eyes and proms and graduations and ball games and bicycles and meals and a thousand other things that fill the lives of those who would raise five children. And Peg and I will sit quietly by the fire and listen to the laughter in the walls and have no regrets." Moms, grandmoms, future moms, this is our goal.
No regrets or at least as few as possible. And how do we do this? Well, let's summarize. We do it, number one, by seeing our children as a sacred trust from God and by treating them like fine crystal. Number two, we do it by deliberately and intentionally cultivating the spiritual life of our children.
And number three, we do it by sacrificing for our children instead of sacrificing our children. Now moms, look here, look here. I want to say one more thing to you before we close and that's this. I don't care how you've done up to this point or what you've done up to this point. It is never too late to make a change, ladies.
Never too late. If you need to go back and apologize to your children for how you've done it up to this point, I urge you to do that. Children don't expect us to be perfect, mom.
They just expect us to be honest. And if you've made some mistakes, be honest with them, even if they're grown. But it's never too late to start mothering like this with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You can make a change now and I encourage you to do it. Don't worry about the past. Jesus will redeem the past. Let's just worry about what the present is and asking the Lord to use us in the present to be a mother like Hannah. Let's pray together. And with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, I would like right now to pray especially for you moms and you grandmoms a special prayer of dedication. So I wonder with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, if you're a mom here or grandmom, would you stand so that I can pray for you, please? Up you go, ladies.
Come on. God bless you. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, I want to lift up the women who are standing right now to you. Moms, grandmoms, soon to be moms.
And Lord, I want to ask for your special grace and mercy on their lives. Father, you know that being a mom is hard. Being a godly mom is really hard.
And being a godly mom who raises children with few regrets is the toughest job in the world. And so, Father, I want to pray for these dear ladies that when they are perplexed, that you will give them wisdom. Lord, when they are tired, that you will give them strength. Father, I pray that when they are discouraged, that you will give them encouragement. When they are unsure what to do, that you will give them discernment. And Father, when they feel like they're making no difference at all, as moms often feel, I pray that you would give them hope. Hope that flows out of the word of God which promises them that if they train up their child in the way that child should go, when that child gets old, he or she will not depart from it.
Lord, give them a long range view of their job, not a short range view. And I pray that you would flood each of these women's lives with the resiliency and the tenacity and the bulldogged determination to do mothering with no regrets. Lord, we commit these moms and these grandmoms to you. Bless their lives, Lord. And let them understand today how deeply not only we treasure them, but how deeply you treasure them. And we pray these things in Jesus' name. And all the rest of us said, Amen. Ladies, Happy Mother's Day. God bless you ladies. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-22 18:08:36 / 2023-04-22 18:20:14 / 12