The Power of a Mother's Promise
By Stacy Wiebe
Twenty-seven years ago this month, my mom made a promise that changed our lives forever.
Now that I'm also a mother, I've come to see that promise as a kind of spiritual umbilical cord, a maternal link God used to bring new to life me and my family, and to countless others.
Prayer from a mother's heart
On May 30, 1975 my sister Carey was born. She was a true angel baby - sleeping through the night from the day we brought her home. She completed a trio of girls; I was four, and Amy, two.
A week after Carey's birth, Mom knew something was terribly wrong. Her left leg suddenly stopped working, dragging behind her.
By the time she arrived at the hospital, her leg was dead black. An astute nurse immediately nailed the cause: blood clots. Two hundred of them, the doctor said, coursed through her veins. One passed through her lung, causing pneumonia and kidney failure.
In her hospital bed, Mom had a conversation with God - something that had often comforted her battered heart as a child. Growing up, her parents partied hard and often abandoned her; when they were home, they were more harsh than loving. God's was the best listening ear she knew.
Now she turned to it again: "Oh, God, I want to live to see my babies grow up and get married," she prayed. "Please help me. I will do anything…" And then she made a promise: "I'll… I'll read the Bible. From cover to cover."
After 10 days in the hospital, Mom came home. The doctor said that if the clot that had passed through her lung had been a hair bigger, she wouldn't have survived.
As she recovered, Mom remembered her promise. Starting in Genesis, she plodded through the super-size Bible she had bought, even though much of it seemed to reinforce her childhood notion that it was decipherable only by men who wore stiff collars.
Even so, a lot of what she read moved her, and when she came upon the question "What must I do to be saved?" in the book of Acts, chapter 16, the answer spoke directly to her: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
She responded then to God's voice in her spirit, and was filled with understanding of how His love had led Him to send His Son, Jesus, to take the punishment for everything she had ever done wrong in her life - and ever would do. "It was quite a revelation," she later told me.
One thing I remember around this time is an earnest, private conversation with my mom. She revealed to me the truth about Santa Claus, and afterwards pulled out a book and read about a woman named Mary who had a baby named Jesus. She told me, "This story is real."
The cross and the barber pole
When I was eight, Mom decided our family needed to go to church. We attended various services, but church felt like a foreign, impenetrable culture with its own language and customs.
Mom found herself offering up another big prayer, "God, if You really want us to go to church, You're going to have to send one to our back yard."
God answered three months later in the form of a short Norwegian pastor in his 70s. He came to our door to invite us to a new church starting up at the barber/beauty shop three miles down the road. By country standards, three miles is on your front porch! We went to the inaugural service, walking past the hair-washing sinks to the main room of the A-frame building. Though we sat discreetly in the back, we failed to make ourselves invisible. In fact, that little community of about 20 people immediately embraced us and over time, through their lives, showed us the winsomeness and Truth of genuine Christianity. My mom grew in her faith, and it wasn't long before my dad, my two sisters and I each decided to follow Jesus as our Forgiver and Leader.
Life, BC and AD
In the following years, I had a front-row seat to changed lives. God re-fashioned my parents' character, their habits, their attitudes.
Their abundant affection and the inner experience I had of God's love undergirded me during my awkward school-age years.
Then I became a teenager.
In ninth grade, I decided to change my misfit image for the gloss of popularity, whatever the cost. I'll come back to God later when I'm done doing things my way, I reasoned. I shrugged off any consequences and believed that to have a "good" testimony, like so many of the dramatic ones I had heard, that I had to have a "past."
At 17, I finally woke up. God helped me imagine how my life might turn out if I continued shunning His love and leadership. I thanked God for protecting me in spite of my unwise choices and I realized the incredible privilege of having been spared the pain that my parents had experienced before knowing Christ.
Three weddings and a baby
When my sisters and I each married, Mom relished in the weddings. God answered her prayer that she would see us wed, and the subsequent ones that each of us would choose a mate who loved God.
Her joy ballooned with the arrival of grandchildren, and when it was my husband Mike's and my turn to tell them we were adding to the brood, we flew home to share the news in person.
A few days into our visit , my nurse-practioner called. A blood test had come back positive for "Factor V Leiden," a genetic blood disorder that can cause clotting during pregnancy and post-partum. The nurse wanted me to start right away on injections of heparin, a blood-thinning medication. Without it there was a high risk for miscarriage, still birth or blood clots.
At first I felt sorry for myself. Suddenly I was having a "high risk" pregnancy. Sticking my stomach with a needle twice a day was not the way I had envisioned enjoying my growing abdomen.
Mom felt guilty: "How could I have passed this on to you?" she thought.
It wasn't long before our emotions melted to thankfulness. God had intervened and prevented me from suffering what my mother had - or something worse. My obstetrician told me that few doctors are screening for this genetic blood disorder, which was discovered just 10 years ago.
"Why me?" became, "Why have I been singled out for so great a grace?"
A new branch
On March 30, 2001 my mom witnessed for the first time the birth of a baby - my son, Liam.
My greatest hope for Liam is that he will respond to God's gift of grace and follow Him with all his heart. As he grows, I will tell him that God has a plan for his life, and that He intervened to protect him in the womb. I'll tell him this parallels the way God's grace intervened to touch the spiritual deadwood that characterized our family tree, grafting in a new branch - one that is spiritually alive.
And I'll tell him how it all began with a mother's promise.
A new branch in your family tree could start with you!
As a young girl, my mom told her parents, " I am going to raise my family differently." They laughed and said, "You will see." She did not know then that the difference she would raise us girls with was Christ.
Following Christ and creating a Christian home is something no one can do though, by just "trying really hard." We need help - or better - the one Jesus called the "Helper."
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has given you His Holy Spirit to help you live life according to His perfect plan. Why not pray this simple prayer and by faith invite Him to fill you with His Spirit:
Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ's death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen
We look forward to hearing from you.
Reprinted with permission from www.christianwomentoday.com
Copyright 2002, Christian Women Today.