“And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him for three months.” (Exodus 11:23 NIV)
Every expectant mother has legitimate concerns about the condition of the world they are bringing their baby into. This was most certainly the case with Jochebed, the mother of Moses. A mother’s appropriate response to the weightiness of the world juxtaposed to the smallness of our infant remains unchanged: we press ahead in prayer and devotion.
We concluded last week: Jochebed bravely carried her baby to term. When Moses finally made his way into her arms, she secretly nurtured him for three months. Hebrews 11:13 tells us her faith in God was far greater than her fear of Pharaoh. Can you imagine trying to hide a newborn? Let alone putting him in a basket on the river when he had outgrown his concealment?
I have only had two babies myself. Not for a lack of attempts: my body simply did not cooperate with gestation. We conceived our son after a full year of effort, riding the waves of hormones and hopes dashed month after month. His was a difficult birth and I remember being grateful to have survived the trauma via modern medicine.
After our harrowing introduction, I treasured every moment with my son. I suspect Jochebed felt similarly about her Moses. Scripture assures us, she found him to be special from the very start.
My second child was equally treasured. We had crawled through two miscarriages in between. My high-risk obstetrician had already warned me: I may have already had my miracle baby, but she’d do her best to see me through a second live birth.
That last pregnancy was my longest. mostly because I wouldn’t let myself hope until the very end, until I was sure that my arms would cradle the child inside. Could Jochebed relate to these feelings of maternal insecurity? Did she press on each day of her pregnancy in spite of her fears about the future?
When my daughter was finally with us, I could’t stop gazing at her in wonder. I could hardly believe she existed! Her birth was easy, my recovery uncomplicated. Suddenly I had this prodigious little person who had defeated all odds. I wound up marveling at motherhood with my last child as deeply as I had my first. I remained profoundly aware of the compounding miracles that made up my little girl. I’m just sure Jochebed reveled in every moment with her tiny Moses, too.
Friend, all of motherhood is brief. The quote, “The days are long but the years are short.” smarts with accuracy. In my experience, parenting begins as a blizzard of activity followed by deafening stillness. My twenty years raising children recently slid into the rearview mirror and I’m still adjusting to the quiet. It went fast. Jochebed’s days with her son must have moved by at lightspeed. She believed she only had months with her Moses. I’m quite certain she made them count.
However brief our mothering opportunity may be, it’s important that we make the most of it. I imagine Jochebed invested those first three months with Moses to her chest in prayer and devotion. She nurtured her son and along with it, her hope for his future. We all have dreams for our children. Did her circumstances discourage her from dreaming or press her all the more into prayer?
A mother’s love is a essential investment in a child’s personhood. Psychologists are still coming to terms with the significance of a maternal figure. My father lost his mother to the polio epidemic when he was only four. His mother left a birthday party in an ambulance and lived out her last hours in an iron lung. For the remainder of his days, my dad nursed his wound of being motherless. When my own son was four months old, I was overtaken with the enormitude of my affection for him. I called my dad in tears to ensure him: “Your mother adored you. She poured her whole heart in for all four years she had with you. You are loved!”
Jochebed must have attempted to cram lifetime of loving into her few short months with her son. They were brief but pivotal hours and days. Our opportunity to mother is much the same. The sand still slips through the hourglass at a reckless rate. We hope for eighteen years or more, but we never know what life might hold.
We spend our limited time wisely when we invest ourselves in devotion and prayer. Somehow, in Kingdom economics, prayer empowers purer devotion, and purer devotion inspires still more prayer.
We cannot afford to forget: our mothering moments matter – no matter how brief they may be. Sleepy petitions over our baby’s downy head ultimately make a difference in their destiny. Jesus told us clearly: God honors the prayers of persistent women.
“And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?” (Luke 18:7 NIV)
Devotion and prayer are the most powerful investment we can make in our children. The Lord alone knows who they might become, but He graciously invites us into His process for a finite season. We harness our opportunity when we spend the bulk of our mothering efforts on devotion and prayer.
Lord, we thank You for the miracle of motherhood. Today we marvel over the mysteries that happen in the secret place and Your invitation to participate through parenthood. May we mother well. May our moments with our babies bring out the best in us. May we invest our energies in devotion and prayer. We want to steward these days and hours well, even if they are brief. We do our part and we look to You as we entrust them to the waters beyond our care. Amen.
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