The Power of a Mother’s Love
She clung to her husband and wept as she watched her son walk down the dusty road, head held high. She had feared that this day might come, and now her fears were reality.
As children, her sons had squabbled and scuffled, but she had hoped it was something they would outgrow- that eventually they would grow to have the kind of bond that some brothers seem to have. But age had only magnified their differences, and those differences pushed them further and further apart.
Watching him and his brother struggle to work together, she had often ached for both of them. Her younger son, with his soft heart, and careless, impetuous ways, was a constant trial to the patience of his brother, who was a hard worker, precise- even perfectionistic. He could never measure up to his older brother’s standard of excellence. As the years had passed, they had grown to resent one another more and more.
She’d looked long into his eyes as he told her goodbye, and in those eyes, she could still see her baby. She’d hugged him and cried, and she knew he could see the pain in her eyes. She hoped he could also see her love. Ah, how she loved him! And how it grieved her heart to see him, heading out into a world full of dangers that she feared he wasn’t prepared to face. She couldn’t help fearing the harm that could come to him; but she hoped her love for him, and the memory of her teachings would stay in his heart forever.
She had often prayed to the God of Abraham, that her sons would grow to be servants of His, but had all her prayers had been in vain? Was this God real? Did he hear her prayers? She had never doubted Him before, so she fell to her knees and cried out to Him again.
While she was praying, she heard footsteps. She looked up to see her older son, hot and dusty from his toil in the fields. He reached for a ladle and took a long drink of cold well water. Noting her tears, he looked more closely at her with -was that a sneer on his face? “So it’s true? The servants say he’s gone and ran off with his part of our inheritance… Surely Father wasn’t crazy enough to give him his full share? He will just waste it on women and… oh, what a fool! I say good riddance!” He turned, and with another self-righteous sneer, said: “Should you need anything, you’ll find me slaving away in the fields, just like always!”
With this speech, he stalked away, leaving her- still on her knees- trembling with the sudden realization that not just one, but both of her precious sons were lost. One, obedient, trustworthy, but so full of righteous pride that he couldn’t see his humanity, and the other, free-spirited, foolish and rebellious. Oh Father! God of Abraham! Where did we go wrong? Oh won’t You show us that You’re there? That You know about our troubles? Won’t You bring back my sons to walk with You? She prayed earnestly, sometimes with words, and sometimes with wordless groans.
When she rose from her knees, she felt a calm assurance that God had heard her cries. She remembered what He had said to her forefathers in their troubles, and she clung to these promises: “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he shall accomplish for you today… the Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.”
“The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock…
You will be blessed when you come in, and blessed when you go out.”
“The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways.”
These promises were a balm to her soul, and she repeated them to herself as she worked.
When her husband came in to eat, he was surprised to find her so peaceful and composed. She shared with him about the strength she had been given, and his eyes filled with understanding, for he too had felt God’s nearness while praying as he worked. “I don’t know God’s plan for our son,” he said, “but I do know He cares about us, and He has the power to bring him back to us.”
They rejoiced and were comforted together, in knowing that God would provide for them as He saw fit. Each day, as any godly mother would, she prayed earnestly for the souls of both her sons. Some days her heart was so heavy, she wondered if God really heard her cries, but she just kept carrying her burden back to Him, trusting that His will would somehow be done.
One day, she stood with her husband in the doorway of their tent. She rested her head on his strong shoulder, gazed down the long dusty road and wondered what had become of their precious, wayward son. She thought how long it had been since he kissed her goodbye. How much she missed him. As she had done so many times before, she again whispered a prayer on his behalf.
All at once her husband straightened. “Look, my Love!” She turned to see him also staring down the road. At first she didn’t see what he was looking at, but then she saw it. The form of someone slowly walking toward them, still a good distance away. Dared she hope? Should she voice her hope? Ah, no, it was probably just a mother’s longing, she reasoned, so she stayed quiet, intently watching the limping form as it approached. Then her husband started. His hand flew to his heart and he looked upward, “Oh God! You have heard our prayers!”
He sprang from the tent, arms thrown open wide, and like a man who had lost his senses, dashed down the road in the direction of the traveler. As he ran, his robe flowed behind him, waving like a banner of welcome. She stood watching,with tears of joy and disbelief. “Lord, God of Abraham, surely You delivered our Fathers from the wilderness. Can it be that You have now delivered our son back to us?” As she watched, her husband reached the form, now clearly a man, thin and gaunt. The man fell to his knees on the ground, but he was gently lifted in his father’s arms. As they stood, son and father, in a joyous embrace, she knew for sure that her eyes had not been deceiving her. She then ran to join them in their celebration. She praised God as she ran. Her son! Her baby! He had returned. God had answered.
As she approached them, she heard her son cry out: “Oh Abba! I have sinned against you so! I have brought shame to your name! I know I’m not worthy to be your son anymore, but could I be your servant? I’m so hungry, Abba! Could I please have a servant’s portion to eat! I will work to repay you!”
She then heard her husband’s gentle reply: “My son! Your mother and I have prayed for you daily! With many tears, we have asked God to bring you back to us, and He has heard our cries! Now you are here with us, and you will always be our son! A servant’s portion? No! You shall eat of the finest food until you are filled!” He beckoned to a servant, standing by. “Quick! Run and kill that calf we have been fattening. Prepare it for a feast. My son, who was lost, has been found! We must welcome him home! Bring me the very best of robes, a ring for his finger, and sandals for his poor blistered feet. Make everything ready for a party, with music and dancing, for my son is not dead, but alive! Tell his brother and the other servants to come and join the celebration!”
So they all three walked the short road home together, two joyous parents, and a penitent, grateful son. While waiting for the servants to prepare the feast, they rejoiced and praised God together. Disappointment clouded their joy when the older brother refused to come to the celebration, but they still could trust in God. They knew the One who brought back one lost son, had the power to also redeem his brother.
Matthew 19:26b “With men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”