Lessons my mother taught me

Lessons my mother taught me
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Joel Beeke
Joel Beeke Joel R. Beeke (b.1952) is an American Christian pastor and theologian. He is minister of the Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.
22 August, 2023 12 min read

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that is in thee also. (2 Timothy 1:3-5)

My mother grew up in a God-fearing home. Her father was a God-fearing man, though he was also a man with many doubts and fears. He had experienced peace with God for a short time as a young man, but this came to an end after he told his minister about his experience, and the minister responded that it may have just been an example of common grace.

This greatly discouraged my grandfather, and he ended up living with a level of spiritual bondage for the remainder of his life. I grew up listening to my father try to encourage my grandfather in the ways of the Lord over and over again.

My grandmother was also a God-fearing individual. However, she was bedridden for several years during my mother’s childhood, and she died when my mother was in her early teens.

My grandfather did remarry, but it was not a good marriage, and so my mother’s primarily spiritual influence continued to come from her father, with all of his doubts and fears. This affected her spiritual life to quite an extent. My mother was very godly, just like my grandfather, but like him she was also full of doubts and fears.

After I was converted at age fourteen I became very concerned about the fact that my mother was not coming to the Lord’s Table, even though she was so evidently a child of God. I spoke to her earnestly, and prayed with her about her struggles.

After this she told me that God had spoken to her from John 14:1-3, ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’

But even so, she continued to struggle with constant doubts, and she found it difficult to believe that this passage applied to her. I earnestly prayed with her many times.

Sometimes I prayed for her in private with tears streaming down my face, praying that God would draw her to his Table and help her to stop living the life of ‘Am I, or am I not?’

She faced other obstacles as well. She had a fainting problem and was afraid that if she ever did try to make her way to the front of the auditorium for communion, she would black out. This held her back. The fear of man was a real problem for her.

On one occasion, when I was fifteen, I prayed for her in earnest on a Sunday morning. With weeping I said, ‘God, please draw her to the Table.’ And he did!

She came forward to the Table, though immediately afterwards she was filled with the same doubts and fears again. I told her that evening how I had wrestled in private prayer for her that morning, and that I had had moments while I was praying that I believed she would come, and that this was indeed of the Lord.

The Lord really used me to encourage her that day. From that point forward she always came to the Table, and she never once fainted.

When ministers who really preached the gospel freely began to visit our Kalamazoo church, she finally found peace for her soul. The last fifty years of her life were lived with more assurance than she had ever experienced before.

She was never the kind of person who would talk freely about her spiritual life, but that was okay. We kids did not need that from her, because we got it from our dad. From our mother we learned other very important lessons that I want to share with you now.

When my siblings and I were young, my mother gave us a book called A Hive of Busy Bees. I remember reading about ‘beeing this way’ and ‘beeing that way’, and so forth. It’s fitting that I give you five ‘bees’ for which she was an example to me.

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