Since May 1 would have been my mother’s 84th birthday and May 13 is Mother’s Day, my mother has been on my mind a good bit these couple of weeks. From Christmas of 1964 till we graduated high school and left home, my mother raised three boys by herself. Well, truth is: her mother (with whom we lived) helped, and we three boys pretty much raised ourselves in lots of ways too. For lots of reasons, I was not emotionally close to my mother—emotional closeness was a rare, rare commodity in our family. Hugs weren’t even a part of our relationship until we boys were grown. But we knew she loved us and she made sacrifices for us. There just wasn’t a lot of emotional stuff attached to the relationship. My mother did some mothering things better than others, and here’s what she did the best: she knew how to let us go. She accepted the fact that we were never fully hers. We were always on loan from God to her for a time.
Don’t underestimate the power of knowing how to let your kids go. As a pastor I’ve witnessed a number of moms (and dads) who just can’t let their kids grow up. They do for them. They bail them out when they’re in trouble. They shield them from the consequences of their actions. And so many times, they get in the way of God’s refining work in the lives of their children. But not my mother! She knew how to let us go in appropriate ways. Her example helped me let my kids go when it was their time.
Anyway, as I was getting ready for bed on my first night at college, I opened my Bible and found a typed letter in it. It was from my mother and dated August, 1974. She must have smuggled it in when I wasn’t looking. She didn’t title the letter, but if she did, she could have called it John’s Emancipation Proclamation. So in tribute to her and as an encouragement to all mothers, I want to share it with you.
I've tried to think of some pearls of wisdom for you to have in your new life, but again, a solid knowledge of the Bible is the best and greatest wisdom anyone can have…so I commend to you the Proverbs and all that go with them.
You know that now that you have given your life to God, Satan is waging a constant battle for you. He could care less about wishy-washy Christians. He only wants those whom he is losing, the ones who are totally committed to God. As it is written, put on all your armor, and tell Satan to get behind you, as Jesus did, and all will go well. He is a sneaky fellow who sounds very reasonable, as you know, so don't let him trap you. Remember that God allows everything to happen (Job), but He will never allow us to be tested beyond our strength to endure. So when the going gets rough (and it will because nowhere are we promised a bed of roses or smooth sailing), praise the Lord for caring enough about you to let you be tested and tried. Rely on Him totally, and the tests will pass away. You will have gone through your refiner's fire, and nothing for you will be impossible within the framework of God's plans for you. It is only outside of His plans that things are frustrating and impossible.
You know I love you very much, and I committed you to God's care (as I have Ray and David) many years ago, but very seriously about 2 years ago, and I totally released you the night you gave your first sermon. I feel He has great plans for you, and you will pass all of your tests with flags flying high. I could have said these things, but thought you might find this about the time you realized that you are now emancipated and feeling a little low, and maybe it would help.
Lots of good luck, son; keep that red-haired and freckle faced countenance, together with your heart, mind and spirit on things above, and all will go well. You are always in my prayers.
All my love,