My family just celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday with a surprise party. While I was assembling old photos for a slideshow honoring her life, I was reminded of all the ways she has shown me—and others—who God is and the truth of His nature.
The following quote was recently posted on Facebook. I didn’t see an author listed, but I couldn’t have said it better myself…
The light that shines the farthest shines brightest close to home.
Here are just a few of the ways Mom has radiated God’s light and taught me how to do the same.
1. “Can’t” is a four-letter word that’s not in God’s vocabulary. So, it shouldn’t be in ours. (Phil. 4:13)
After raising two children who are classified as “legally blind,” Mom knows all about that four-letter word. Her answer to any “impossible” task or situation was—and still is: “God will make a way. You may have to use an unconventional method to get it done. If that doesn’t work, delegate!”
2. If you can laugh about it or laugh through it, you can survive it.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Neh. 8:10) Mom has shown me the true meaning of that verse countless times. Whether by cracking jokes at my hospital bedside, intentionally mispronouncing words to keep me awake while she helped me get through long passages in in a college textbook, or finding something funny in the midst of heartbreak, she knew the value of joy. But, the greatest joy of all is in her constant ability to look back and see that God’s hand was at work, even in the most difficult times.
3. Encouragement feeds the flame of success, while harsh criticism and negativity snuff it.
Mom didn’t withhold discipline or correction when they were needed, but, like God, she always tempered those with love and the confidence that her children would get it right the next time. Her words were chosen to build us up, never to tear us down.
God is the great encourager. He wants us to succeed, to become the masterpieces He designed us to be. His plans are to prosper us, give us a hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11) He is in the creation business, after all.
4. Sometimes the best way to help someone is simply to listen.
I’ve seen Mom sit for hours on the phone with someone or in person, just letting him or her talk through a situation. It is her nature to find solutions, to “fix” things, but often she’ll set that aside and simply offer the comfort of a caring presence. God, I believe, acts through her on such occasions. He, too, never turns a deaf ear to our needs or troubles. (Ps. 102:17)
5. Everyone has worth, gifts, and a God-given purpose.
Mom treats every person she meets as if he or she is valuable, lovable, and worth her time and attention. Having less or knowing less will never make a person less in her eyes. After all, to God, no person is better than another (Acts 10:34). How dare we act otherwise?
Beyond that, she has taught me the true meaning of purpose. When I was too ill to even leave my bed, she reminded me of this: If all I could do was pray for others, I was fulfilling a purpose for God. Those words, spoken from the heart of God, changed my entire view of life and identity. She didn’t know it at the time, but her words gave me my new purpose.
6. Life is a wonderful adventure!
Yes, even if you get lost and have to take a two hour detour, call it an adventure and enjoy the trip. God always knows where we are. He directs our paths (even when we wander off-road), and makes all things work together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Our job is to let Him, then to recognize it.
Like when you find yourself on a beach in Florida at 3 a.m. with nowhere to stay—because your reserved room was full of roaches, and other hotels won’t let you check in until five hours from now. Yes, that happened to us. What a way to begin your senior trip! Mom looked at my friends and me and said, “Hey, it’s an adventure! Just think of the stories we’ll be able to tell.” Now, here we are, many years and laughs later…It’s that “joy” thing again.
And the greatest lesson of all…
7. Love is giving, & giving should be an act of love.
When all Mom’s party attendees took turns expressing how she’d impacted their lives, the most consistent theme was the way she gives of herself…all that she is…to others. Her love of people is contagious and has shown God’s nature to those she wasn’t aware had even noticed her.
Our pastor says “agape,” the greek word the Bible uses to describe God’s love, means “to give.” I’ve never seen anyone give the way Mom does. My dad once teased her that, if she ever won the lottery, she’d give away all her winnings. But her giving goes far beyond blessing others with things or finances. She will miss out on sleep, sacrifice her own needs, and spend all her time and energy to bring joy or help to others. It’s a level of love I’m still striving to emulate. (John 3:16)
Thanks, Mom, for showing so many of us how to shine!
What about you? Shed your light below…
Who has taught you the most about God’s nature? How?