I wanted to start today's message off with a story:
Usually Mother's Day is the day we all gather together on Sunday morning to worship together at our annual children's service. But as with many things that have happened so far in 2020, this Mother's Day is going to be a lot different. For those with children who no longer live at home, the day may include a zoom hangout or a phone call. Maybe you are the child who is no longer at home and you're trying to think of the best way to honor your mother without being able to visit and hug her. If you have young children at home, you will most definitely be enjoying a day NOT having to home school, and you may even receive some other special surprises too. There's also a good chance that many of our kids will forget to be nice the whole day or still not want to clean up after themselves, in which case we will be gently reminded that you can never really take a break from being a mom. I am 35 and I still don't give my mom a break. I ask her for advice at least once a day. She is also a grandmother to five now, and is getting to experience some of the joys of taking care of children all over again. We actually just pulled out some old photo albums the other day that we haven't looked at in years. It was a beautiful scene: looking at photos of my mom and me as a baby while we're sitting together as mother and grown daughter and as she's simultaneously in Grandma role to my two kids. It made me realize how many different roles she has had to play over the years to raise my sister and I and now to help us with our kids. No matter what phase of life we were in, she always found a way to be the mom that we needed.
I hope you had the chance to listen to "The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise Brown. The children's book playfully illustrates the fact that, as moms, we will always be pursuing our children in one way or another, just as our mothers pursued us. From the moment we took our first steps, our moms have had to watch us try to blaze our own trails. Some of us may have been easier to keep an eye on than others. I know there are moms who truly know what it feels like to be a mountain climber or a tightrope walker to keep up with their children. There's a quote that says, "A mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take." -Cardinal Mermillod. Whether we have to be a fisherman or a gardener, we all want to end up on the last page of the book where the baby bunny finally says, "I might as well stay where I am and be your little bunny". We've all probably had the baby bunny moment at some point, when we realize there really is no one who can take the place of our mother. However, now that some of us are mothers ourselves, we may still be in the phase of pursuing our children: reaching our arms out every couple seconds to keep them from falling as they learn to walk, helping them through tearful nights after a hard day at school or fights with friends, going on college tours, being there even when they say they don't need us, constantly guiding them to realize where their true value lies and so many more hard but beautiful hurdles. Luckily for us, we have the absolute best guide for parenting our little runaway bunnies.
Christ will stop at nothing to pursue us, His children. Author Colin Smith from "Unlocking the Bible," delves into the book of John, chapter 10 to illustrate the relationship of us as believers to Jesus as our shepherd. John 10: 14-15 reads, "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father..." We are never a mystery to Christ. Just as we know our children inside and out, Jesus knows us in a way that no one else can, not even ourselves. Because He knows us so well, he is the best possible leader we can have. He knows exactly what we need when we need it. He is the wind to our sailboat, just like the mother bunny is to her baby.
A few verses later in the book of John, Jesus says, "MY sheep hear MY voice."(John: 10:27). As our shepherd, Jesus is not just acting as a hired hand. He doesn't stop to decide what part of leading us is in his job description or what is worth the risk. There is no risk too large for Him. We are fully His. Writer Colin Smith says, "Christ does not care for you because of what he can get out of you. That would be the spirit of the hired hand. Christ cares for you because you are his. There will never be a time when he will say, "You're not worth it." He made you his own, at the cost of his life and, having made you his own, he will never leave you; he will never forsake you."
Finally, no matter how far we travel, we are still safe in the hands of God. Jesus says, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (John 10:29) So no matter how many times we have to become the tree for our little birds to rest in or become a fisherman to catch our little trout, we are still being pursued ourselves by our own heavenly Father. We will never have to travel a path that Christ is not traveling with us. Hopefully just as Christ has pursued us, we will pursue our children and ultimately show them what it means to be a child safe in the Father's hand.
I pray that you all have a safe, healthy and joyous Mother's Day today!
Here is a song by Casting Crowns since we won't be able to sing together for the service. I thought it was the perfect song about God pursuing us through all of life's journeys.