On many occasions, she has shared with me about my own birth. She tells of how she was rushed to the hospital in labor. Due to complications (the chord was wrapped around my neck), the decision was immediately made to perform a caesarean section.
Apparently, my mother was out for quite some time, and only told later of what all had transpired in the meantime. The doctors said they worked with me for over an hour before I began to breathe on my own. There had been serious concerns over my life and also over any residual complications. Alas, however, I had eventually come around and began acting like any typical newborn, seemingly none the worse for wear.
My mom firmly believes that God kept me alive because He had much for me to do in life. I concur. She relates that she knew in her heart I survived this initial ordeal because she had so prayed for me while she was carrying me. Again, I concur. She says that every time she sees my wife and children, and my own grandchildren, she knows why God gave me life. I agree. And she says that every time I stand to proclaim the word of God, she knows that is the chief reason God spared me at that time. Again, I agree.
As I said above, all during the time she was expecting me, she shares that she prayed for me daily. You see, she and my father came along in the 1950’s – at a time when it was still common practice for young men never to finish high school. In other places on my website, I have shared that I was the first male in my family lineage to graduate high school.
My mother did graduate high school; but my father quit after the tenth grade. His father before him had quit after the third grade, and could only write a few rudimentary words. And his father before him, as with each subsequent generation, never even went to school at all.
Because it was the trend for so many young men to leave school before graduating, many of them never really applied themselves before they quit. For this reason, my mother shares that all she ever really knew of boys is that they were unintelligent, or at least unlearned. And she desperately wanted her son not to be this way.
This is likely why she read books to me as child. I can still remember being enthralled at Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as I lay on the floor next to my sister while my mom read the exploits of a boy’s life growing up on the banks of the mighty Mississippi river.
I also remember her enrolling my sister and me in the Weekly Readers Book Club. It was with great anticipation that I looked forward to the monthly mail delivery of children’s books that came to our little country home. I valued them so much that I read them over and over. And I still have many of them. In fact, those that were displaced have since been meticulously hunted down online and re-obtained.
Another thing my mother provided was a set of encyclopedias. The significance of this is hard to appreciate in a day and age where every home has multiple devices connected the internet and wherein information is available to so many at the tip of their fingers.
But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, apart from newspapers, radio, and television (the latter with only five channels), information was hard to come by. The Illustrated World Encyclopedia set was not necessarily the top of the line. (My strong suspicion is that the Encyclopedia Britannica was a little too pricey.) But I loved that old set of the IWE. And I utterly devoured it.
As a preteen, I set myself a goal to read the entire encyclopedia set all the way through from cover to cover. This was especially enticing to me, because at the end of each volumes, placed alphabetically, were three to five page summaries of all the great works of western literature. I could never afford the classics; but I quickly learned their content in summary. Little did I know that early on in life, I was being grounded in the great five thousand year old literary tradition of my own culture. I am so thankful for my mom’s foresight here. (And yes, I still have this very set of encyclopedias in my office.)
But the most significant thing my mother provided for me as a child was, of course, the Word of God. I still have every single Bible I was ever given in my life - from those in my childhood, to the one I received at my baptism, to the several Study Bibles acquired in my teen years. And most of these came from my mother. Needless to say, I treasure these Bibles. The notes in them speak to my own progressive growth and maturity as a child of God.
But the older I get, the one book I treasure form my childhood is the bible that belonged to my mother. Actually, I have my father’s Bible as well. My father was not much of reader. His Bible has a few passages marked within, and is also stuffed with select church items picked up in his tenure as either Deacon and/or Sunday School Superintendent.
But my mother’s Bible is unique by comparison. Hers contains a written record of where she read each portion, sequentially, day by day, throughout the entire time she was pregnant with me. (Predictably, there is a short gap of time after I was born, reflecting the stressful few days related above.) It also contains the record of where she re-read it time and again afterwards.
In this collection of stories, recounting her prayers for me as well as the resources she provided me, is to be found the account of the great love my mother had for me. In many respects, every time I sit down to study or to write, or whenever I stand to proclaim the word of God, it is a direct result of her prayers and her maternal investment in me as her son.
King Lemuel said of the noble woman in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs, (chapter 31, verses 10-31) that "her children arise and call her blessed". I trust this blog post is merely one such fulfillment of that very scripture.
I thank God for the life He has given me. I also thank God for the context in which I was privileged to be raised. But especially do I thank Him for a Godly mother who poured herself into me, her son, in order that I might one day live to glorify the very God she herself loved and honored. And I hope I never disappoint either my mother or the God of the Bible Whom both she and I, each in our own time and way, have tried to serve so faithfully.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/proverbs/31.htm.