I am the first to admit I am no expert when it comes to motherhood. Being a mother for a little less than three years, my short experience with two little ones definitely does not qualify me to give any sort of speech or devotional about what it means to be a mom. (Though I do think I’ve exceeded the obligatory 10,000 hours by now!). But one thing I’ve learned about mothering is that it is very easy to get caught up in the achievements or milestones of our children.
First, the biggest focus can be getting the baby to sleep through the night. Once achieved, you move onto getting them to sit up, crawl, walk, talk, eat with utensils, and potty train. Then, the academic elements come in and the focus can be how well they read, or spell, or perform on their math test. Then, what score did they get on their SATs? Do they play an instrument? How many sports do they play? Are they able to converse well with adults? The list goes on and on. But does God limit mothering (or parenting in general) merely to training children to perform and accomplish things? In fact, does he mention accomplishments at all?
Interestingly, God gives parents very few instructions on parenting and none have anything to do with any sort of physical, mental, or emotional achievement. We are reminded in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” In Deuteronomy 6:7, God directs parents: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” In short, the commands center on teaching children about the Lord and His ways in every facet of their lives.
The Global Influence of Godly Moms
In his book Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms, Tim Challies presents a series of godly mothers who occupied themselves with this command and reaped bountiful rewards for their efforts. These mothers, who raised godly men like John Newton, John Piper, Charles Spurgeon, and Hudson Taylor (to name a few), engrossed themselves in teaching their children over and over again about God. They dedicated precious time of pleading to the Lord on behalf of their children, bearing their children’s burdens, and continuously pointing their children to choose Christ. Chapter after chapter is filled with a new story of a mother whose parenting left a profound impact on her child and, in turn, the millions of people her child blessed.
Whether you are a mother of a newborn or have been a mother for fifty years, this book will encourage your soul to abandon the anxiety you may feel in raising your child and instead commit them to the Lord. The physically weak mother, the persistent mother, the pleading mother, and the hard-working mother all relied daily for strength and wisdom from the Lord in leading their children. Consequently, God blessed and multiplied their efforts tremendously. While the book focuses on mothers who have raised boys, it certainly applies equally to moms who only have girls. In fact, my husband was the one who gave this book to me. Being a mother of two little girls, when I first saw it, I said “But it’s for moms who raised men.” He encouraged me nonetheless to read it. I’m glad I did!
Ameila Taylor: Faithful in Prayer
One thing I really enjoyed about the format of the book was how each chapter highlighted an admirable virtue that each mother displayed. It allowed me to understand and analyze how that specific virtue affected the life of a child. For example, Amelia Taylor, the mother of Hudson Taylor—a faithful missionary to China—illustrated the influence of prayer for your children. For example, one day, Amelia, “locked herself in her room and for hours pleaded that God would extend mercy to Hudson,” and “all of a sudden, she believed God had answered her prayer.” That moment was actually the exact moment that Hudson fell on his knees, repenting of his sins and turning to Christ for salvation. When he traveled to tell his mother the great news, Hudson was amazed to learn that for days his mother “had already been rejoicing in his salvation.” Wow! I know that story encouraged me to pray more for my girls!
Ruth Piper: An Ordinary Mom
Another story that deeply resonated with me was the story of Ruth Riper, the mother of John Piper. The attribute emphasized in her story that really struck me (and I think will strike many of the mothers who read her story) was its commonness. She didn’t do anything monumental or groundbreaking. Challies writes, “Ruth was no scholar or theologian. Her faith was deep but simple. Her children have no memory of her reading any book but the Bible and no recollection of her quoting any of its verses except Proverbs.” I found her life and mothering so motivating and freeing. Motherhood doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Simple, but consistent and loving prayer and teaching of the Word to your children can influence their lives in extraordinary ways. Again Challies notes, “From the life of Ruth Piper, we see that he can—in fact, that he delights to—use ordinary mothers to carry out his purposes.”
Tim and Aileen Challies
I wanted to make one final comment on the author, Tim Challies and his wife, Aileen. In November 2020, their son, Nick, suddenly collapsed and died at the age of 20. There was no reason or evidence suggesting why Nick died, other than that the Lord just called him home. The next day Challies commented on his son’s death, writing, “Yesterday Aileen and I cried and cried until we could cry no more, until there were no tears left to cry. Then, later in the evening, we looked each other in the eye and said, ‘We can do this.’ We don’t want to do this, but we can do this—this sorrow, this grief, this devastation—because we know we don’t have to do it in our own strength. We can do it like Christians, like a son and daughter of the Father who knows what it is to lose a Son.”
The couple’s amazing courage, strength, and reliance on God as they walked through the deep waters of losing their beloved son is yet another encouraging example of a mother and father whose faith and hope was completely fixed on the Lord. They illustrate the extraordinary truth that even though God has entrusted us with our children, he ultimately owns them and is sovereign over their lives. After twenty years of faithfully training, loving, disciplining, reading to, and praying for their son, they said goodbye to him, trusting deeply that he went to be with the “God he loved.” At the end of the parenting of their child, God had blessed their efforts and had welcomed their son into eternal Paradise with Him. It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
Again, we must be reminded of this sobering truth: God directs and determines our children’s lives, both in terms of their earthly lives and their eternal state. And if that truth doesn’t drive each and every one of us to our knees, I don’t think anything else will. So mama, take heart. As the saying goes, the days are long, but the years are short. Our time with our children is limited. Make the most of every second. Don’t get entangled in the milestones. And above all, let the Lord, His Word, and His goodness guide each step.