A Family Circle Series: The Heart of the Family
As surely as Paul declared that the husband is the head of the wife, and thus that he is indeed the head of the family circle, we must also agree that the wife (and mother) is the heart of the family. The poet said it so well when he wrote,
The hand that rocks the cradle, Is the hand that rules the world". Nations rise and fall, empires prosper or crumble, and men are stirred to greatest accomplishments or they are driven to shameful failure, depending upon the influence of wives and mothers. Perhaps it is correct to say that no human being stoops so low as the immoral, base, promiscuous mother. Jezebel, the wife of Ahab (1 Kings 19:2) is recognized as symbolic of all that is evil-of deceit, mischief, lying, malice, injustice. Deliliah destroyed a strong man with her deceit; Solomon's great wisdom did not survive the subtle and evil ways of women (someone has correctly said, "Solomon didn't have a thousand wives; a thousand wives had him").
Evil women who stoop so low are put in contrast to those who rise so high! Perhaps no one rises, to such a high plane of moral goodness, compassionate loyalty and dynamic influence as does the godly mother. Mary accompanied her Son all the way to persecution, rejection and to the cross. Hannah molded the life of an infant into a lad who was then possessed with the character to make him one of the greatest prophets of all time (1 Sam. 1:27, 28). Some author, unknown to me said,
Paint her as you see her, artist,
Let the lines and wrinkles show,
And the silver hair that crowns her,
Like a halo's beautious glow.
Can you picture on your canvas,
All the years of sacrifice,
How she tended well her household,
Evercounting naught the price?
Let your brushes tell the story,
Of her patient love and care,
Mingle love with joy and sorrow,
Just as life has put them there.
Blend your colors softly, artist,
Face her toward the setting sun,
Smiling, calm, serene and peaceful,
For her task is almost done.
Call the portrait simply, "Mother;"
All the world will understand,
Nations thrive and empires prosper,
Guided by her gentle hand.
Motherhood is a great privilege -- the crowning joy, the maximum happiness, the sublime fulfillment -- for most women. Read the song of Hannah, rejoicing in motherhood (1 Sam. 2:1-10). And perhaps the greatest privilege of motherhood is that of willing, voluntary and enthusiastic sharing. No human being is able to share with others as does a mother; she shares her body with another in order that she might conceive; she shares again, most significantly, with her unborn child, and then she shares her time, her energy, her talent-even her very heart-as she weeps and laughs, as she sorrows and rejoices with her child through the months and years of infancy, adolescence and youthfulness.
But motherhood also involves obligation as well as privilege. No task on earth requires more dedication, greater skill or fuller commitment. The responsibilities of motherhood are not fulfilled passively but they demand devotion to the highest ideals and patient perseverance over long years of time. Yet, especially today, in our sophisticated society, many mothers lack the will and the courage to face the realities of the family circle, and many falter and fail, not because of inability, but because of lack of endeavor. Edgar A. Guest skid,
"There are Mothers who imagine,
Life could give them if it would,
Something richer, something better,
Than the joys of motherhood."
Perhaps it is safe to say that there is no human obligation that is less adaptable to substitution than motherhood. By that I mean that you can substitute for the teacher, the ball player, the policeman, the governor and almost anyone else, but no one has found an adequate substitute for mother's love! (Foster parents do great work and are deserving of much praise, but no one knows better than they that they can never achieve every aspect of parenthood that belongs exclusively to the natural mother.)
The greatest writers and speakers of the ages have tried to capture the fullness of glory, the opportunity and the duty of motherhood, and all have failed to maximize it. Naturally, then it is utterly impossible for me to do so, and I shall not even try. So in this chapter, I am not trying to specify every minute detail of duty that comes to mothers, nor am I trying to spell out the intricate items that separate between success and failure, between joy and sorrow. I am simply trying herein to arouse mothers to their God-given duties and to challenge them to respond to the teaching of God's Word regarding their responsibilities.
Study with me two vivid contrasts: We read: "Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Athaliah the daughter of Omri. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counselor to do wickedly" (2 Chron. 22:2,3). But for a complete contrast, notice: "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded in thee also" (2 Tim. 1:5).
Happy are we, and happy the home, when we find a dedicated father and a devoted mother living, loving and laboring in unison to fulfill the duties and to enjoy the opportunities of parenthood. In our next chapter we shall consider "Children: An Heritage of the Lord."
Truth Magazine XXII: 11, pp. 184-185