When it comes to metaphors of God’s love, Fathers often get the spotlight. They no doubt communicate God’s love in an irreplaceably unique way. But Scripture tells us that it takes both genders to understand the fullness of who God is (Genesis 1:27) and God actually compares Himself to mothers on multiple occasions in Scripture (Isaiah 66:13; Isaiah 49:15; Hosea 11:3-4; Deuteronomy 32:18).
When Jesus was teaching His disciples, He was constantly telling parables and drawing on the things they were most familiar with to communicate God’s character. There aren’t many people more familiar to us than our moms, so in honor of Mother’s Day, allow me to share two lessons about who God is from my own mom.
The kingdom of heaven is like that time my mom forgot to tell me she let some homeless people move in with us.
“Who are Eddy and Malita?” I asked.
“You didn’t tell her about Eddy and Malita?” Ben, my (eventual) step-dad, questioned, turning to my mom as we drove away from the airport where they had just picked me up for thanksgiving break.
My mom forgets things sometimes. Sometimes it’s her wallet or her keys. Sometimes it’s telling all of her kids that she let two strangers move into our house.
It turned out, Eddy and Malita were a homeless couple my older sister Catie met at church not too long before I came home for break my freshman year of high school at boarding academy. Catie invited them to our house for dinner and told them her mom would help them find a place to stay.
God is always working with other people in ways we don’t know about.
And Mom did find them a place to stay.
Over the next seven months, Mom attended court dates with Eddy and Malita, bought them diapers and toys for their kids, and helped supervise visits with their children, so they could work towards being reunited, which they eventually did.
My mom helping Eddy and Malita makes me think of how God is always working with other people in ways we don’t know about. Like most moms, He doesn’t feel the need to trumpet what He’s doing. And like delusional teenagers, we can think that we know everything, and if we don’t see it happening, it must not be happening. If someone isn’t following God exactly like we are, well, they must not really be with God. If no one is getting baptized, then the gospel isn’t making any progress.
I have a feeling though that when God finally returns to pick up His children at the second coming, we’re all going to be catching up, swapping stories, and Jesus will mention so-and-so and we’ll say, “Wait, who’s that?” And then He’ll tell us of all the marvelous ways He was working behind the scenes in people’s lives and we had no idea. We’ll sit in humble amazement at how tireless and faithful He’s been, with us and others.
We’ll realize that all the time we thought we were the ones putting in the effort, God, like a mom, was the one making the show go on.
The kingdom of heaven is like my mom and me talking about my crush on the pastor’s son.
“He doesn’t even know I exist” I whined to my mom. Life is hard when you have a crush on the pastor’s son. At 12 years old and desperately needing braces, it wasn’t like I was looking for a serious relationship, I just wanted him to notice me.
My mom could have rolled her eyes and said, “Trust me, you’ll be OK.” Instead, we sat on her bed together and she gently talked me through my emotions.
Another time, I was feeling sad because our family had moved to a different part of town and my friends (who used to live right next door) and I were growing apart. I don’t know why but I was lying on the living room floor, feeling sad and lonely. My mom noticed I was sad, so she laid down on the floor next to me. She asked why I was down and I told her I didn’t feel like I had any friends. Instead of telling me to think positively (which she does as well) or to cheer up, she said, “I’ll be your friend.”
One of the most beautiful things about God is how He makes Himself present to us.
I don’t think anyone is more present with a child than a mother is. They carry their children before they are born, and then, after, they spend their days kissing invisible injuries and walking them through all their emotions, even the silly stuff that doesn’t really matter in the long run.
One of the most beautiful things about God is how He makes Himself present to us. When Adam and Eve opted to eat from the tree, selfishness took the place of other-centered love as the principle they lived from. They believed the devil’s lies that they couldn’t trust God, He was holding out on them, and that they could attain a higher state of happiness if they put themselves first. Pretty soon all of creation had gone off the rails.
Instead of God telling Adam and Eve to pull themselves up by their bootstraps or condemning them, God made a promise to save humanity by stepping into our world. Like a mother kneeling down next to her toddler, God walked with Abraham. When He told Moses to make a sanctuary so He could be “with” His people, I almost picture a mom climbing into a fort her child has built in the living room. Finally, Jesus came and got down next to us on the floor of a stable. He said things like, “You’re My friends” and “I’ve longed to gather you together, like a mother hen gathers her chicks.”
Christians spend a lot of time talking about chasing after God and finding Jesus, but I think if we stopped moving, we’d find that, like a mom, God is the one who’s been there all along.
The kingdom of heaven is like feeling sad in the car
We are often quick to compare mothers to famous female Bible characters, but good mothers aren’t just like Mary or Ruth. Good mothers are like Jesus.
I’m 28 years old now and I live 2500 miles away from my mom.
The other night I was sitting in my car, parked outside a restaurant, wallowing in self-pity after having a lousy afternoon at work. So I called my mom up and we chatted about life and my day.
Spend some time today thinking of the ways your mother or the mother-figures in your life have shown you Jesus, and take some time to thank her for it.
Apparently you don’t outgrow your need for either of them.