The priceless heritage of a loving mother
To those who viewed that portrait was a pastor who had given most of her active life in the service of Christ to bless a people. Yes, it was a portrait of a mother, my mother. She was one who taught not just by precept but by example of what it means to love and be true follower of Christ.
It was through her godly, loving influence, the life she lived every day, that I served as a full time minister for 33 years and now am writing weekly columns for the News-Review. She left her stamp on me. In a denomination that was so legalistic -- no movies, dancing, card playing, smoking, drinking, makeup or jewelry for women -- I never heard her even once preach on any negatives.
She was always positive, loving, non-judgmental; she was truly "a Christ unto others." (Martin Luther, the reformer).
When I was traveling, singing and preaching in more than 20 denominations throughout the country, when in my 20s, I'll never forget an evangelist in a "tent meeting" calling ladies un-Christian for wearing anything but long sleeved dresses, etc. I couldn't help telling him after the service what I heard my mother say from the pulpit: She, wearing her three-quarter length sleeves, said, "If that much of my arm tempts any man, he ought to be locked up!"
I'll never forget those times seeing her on her knees beside her bed in prayer, or reading her Bible and devotional material before beginning her day's ministries. What an imprint her devout, godly life left on me.
I could mention so many unselfish acts, that we almost take for granted. Perhaps you, like me when I was a kid, thought that mom really liked the backs and necks of chickens! Yeah.
Or, when her total salary for the first year was a meager $683 for the entire year, I was working my way through college. When I sent my dirty laundry home to be washed, when it was returned it always had a dollar bill placed with love on the top of the folded clean laundry.
Yes, as Paul in writing to Timothy said, "I remember the sincere faith you have, the kind of faith your mother Eunice had." (II Timothy 1:5) I, with Timothy, am deeply indebted to my mother and her godly, loving influence on my life.
Only God knows a mother's influence for good or evil in the lives of her children. It was said of George Washington that his courage, statesmanship, leadership in war and guiding an infant nation, was because of his pious mother.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, history says he singlehandedly saved England from the bloody revolution the French experienced, because of his sainted, dedicated mother.
I believe as Harry Emerson Fosdick, "Religion is more caught than taught!" Moms, what are your kids catching? A narrow, critical, petty doctrinal faith? Or, a loving, constructive, wholesome, accepting attitude, a "Christ like" faith?
I caught the faith of a loving, forgiving God through the godly life my mother lived. I pray that your kids too will catch God's transforming love in their lives through the life you are living.
The Rev. Chuck Manker of Petoskey earned a bachelor of arts from Asbury College, a bachelor of theology from Owosso College (now Indiana Wesleyan University), a master of arts from the University of Michigan, and master of divinity from Drew University.