It was the bottom of the seventh inning, (the last inning in Pee Wee baseball), two outs and no one on base. I was on the mound, one out away from the city championship. My younger brother settled in behind the plate and put down one finger for a fastball. I nodded in agreement, rocked, and fired! “Strike One!” exclaimed the umpire. Retrieving the ball, I readied myself for the next pitch. Once again, arms flailing and tongue-twisting, I fired another fastball right down the middle. Having confidently carved a thunderbolt on the side of his bat, the hitter belted the ball into deep right field, going where few have gone before. The least talented fielder on the defensive team typically occupies the right field. These fielders tend to be far more artistically bent and are still trying to choose between sports and taking piano lessons. In the meantime, they tend to stare at the sky or collect four-leaf clovers, choosing anonymity over heroism, at least for the moment. Yet, here we were, witnessing the unthinkable. With the championship on the line, “thunderbolt” had connected and we watched as Jo Jo Dugger got the shock of his life.
“What is this foreign object that has entered my peaceful solitude? Is that…wait…could it be…a baseball?” Rushing back to planet Earth, Jo Jo picked up the intruder and hurled it back from whence it came, or at least, in the general direction. The batter, having but one objective in mind, circled the bases like a high-speed Ferris Wheel. Rounding third, his fellow players greeted him with high fives and loud cheers. Caught up in the moment, the would-be-hero failed to perform the most important task, placing his feet on the home plate thus validating his outstanding accomplishment. Instead, he ran into the crowd surrounding home-base without ever having planted the flag.
Then it happened. I wished it had not, but it did. My mom, seated comfortably in her Walmart lawn chair, ran onto the field, picked up the baseball, placed it in my glove, and said,
“Young Jeffery,” (only she can call me that), “The runner did not touch Home Plate. Go, tag him out!”
Like any good boy who obeys his mommy, I did what I was told, and, for reasons I still do not understand, the umpire pulled his arm down like he was hauling down the sun and yelled,
Silence fell over the crowd. Then, pandemonium. The two coaches rushed the field. Fists were flying! Fans were screaming violent abuse! Players had to be separated. Oh yes, baseball in small-town America.
At the end of the day, the Mayor, an avid baseball fan and contributor to the local Boy’s Club, gave both teams First Place trophies, and thus, with diplomacy and wisdom, guaranteed his re-election.
I look back on those days and am reminded of what mothers are called upon to endure. Moms are so desperate for the success of their children that they sometimes get carried away. Who loves us more than our mothers? Perhaps God and no one else. No one wants us to win at life more than Mom. She nurtures and dresses us for success from the very beginning. The sacrifices she makes and the lengths she is willing to go to, even personal embarrassment, to ensure our successes, are compelling.
“All that I am I owe to my mother,” said Abraham Lincoln. This is true of all of us. So, as we honor our mothers this weekend, I thought I would start by honoring mine. Having lost her when she was only sixty-one, I miss her dearly. She was not perfect but with all her faults she managed to give me three things upon which no value can be placed:
First: She relentlessly reminded me that God is always watching over me. She often quoted, "See that you do not disdain one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10). She also quoted the beginning section of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father who art in Heaven.” “Heaven” is the Greek word, ‘Uronos,’ which means, “atmosphere.” In other words, God is closer than the air we breathe. This gave me an immeasurable sense of security. In both my successes and failures, I never doubted that God was with me, closer than I could ever imagine. This knowledge of the transcendent enabled me to move out effectively, courageously, and confidently, into a world that is unpredictable. Knowing that God is “large and in charge” of the events of my life, and will work everything together for good, made me believe that there was nothing I could not accomplish or overcome.
Second: Mom taught me that the Bible is the Word of God and that these words would sustain me all the days of my life. She read Bible stories to us, my three brothers and me, every single night and insisted that we pay attention to the details. In her mind, God placed these stories in the Bible as a road map to health and prosperity. She believed the spirit and the word always work together to give us the right word at the right time or season of our lives. Mom would have us memorize key passages hoping that we would forever allow them to govern our attitudes and decisions. “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) and “Lean not on your understanding but trust in the Lord” (Proverbs 3:5), were two of her favorites. Little did I realize at the time she was laying a foundation upon which we could build our lives so that when the storms came, our houses would stand.
Third: Mom taught me that prayer can move mountains. She often reminded us that when we approach God’s throne, His heart melts and He releases His divine energy into our struggles.
“God grants us a special anointing” she would proclaim, “that opens our eyes to what is actually going on and what He is able to accomplish in the midst of it.” Perhaps this was Mom’s greatest contribution. The regular practice of prayer grants me a daily reminder that life is not all about me. Life is about something more than manipulating everything around me to achieve my objectives. Prayer reminds me that life is theocentric, not egocentric. The goal of my life is to find my place in God’s grand story, and to live my life for a purpose greater than myself.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, let us remember that much of what we have become can be attributed to our mothers. If you were blessed to have a mother who poured spiritual truths into you, count your blessings. She is worth more than you will ever know.
Three Questions Young Mothers Should Ask:
1. Am I reading the Word of God and praying with my children every single day?
2. Am I committing the lives of my children to God’s safe care? Do I really believe His angels are watching over my children? Am I trusting His provision, and, as a result, experiencing His peace?
3. Am I honoring my mother by thanking her for all the positive contributions she made to my life while forgiving all her shortcomings?