Sunday, May 13, 2007

In the Shadow of Your Wings

I have always been grateful to my mother for all that she has meant to me, even though I am often negligent in communicating my feelings. Yet, during the past six-and-a-half years my feelings of gratitude have been accentuated as I have watched my beautiful wife care for our precious daughters.

Caring for three small children is a serious undertaking. Diaper changes are demanded, especially at the most inopportune moments. The washer and dryer are in constant use. Meals need to be prepared, rooms need to be cleaned, baths need to be given, and children need to be entertained. I am not certain where my wife finds the time to accomplish all she does, especially with the flair with which she does it. I try to make contributions, easing as much of the load as I can, but a man’s touch does not offer what a mother’s loving hands can provide.

Yes, I am becoming more and more aware of the sacrifices my mother made as she raised me and my sister and brother. I am more aware of the hours upon hours of selfless labor. I am more aware of the personal enjoyments that she had to postpone or skip entirely. And, I am grateful for all that she has meant to me and given to me, and I appreciate her continued presence in my life.

In the Old Testament, God is sometimes described as a loving mother, specifically as a mother hen who protectively and tenderly cares for her young. One psalmist sings, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 36.7). He continues to praise God for the sustenance God provides—he portrays God as a nurturer.

One of the special names given to God by the people of Israel is rooted, in part, in the concept of a mother hen dutifully protecting and nurturing her young. The name El Shaddai, most often translated “Almighty God” carries this thought.

What a wonderful image of God for us to see. Just as a loving mother cares for her children, God provides for his creation. May we be ever grateful to God for his nurturing care.

Let us honor our mothers on this special day. They are the most giving and selfless people on earth. Let us learn from their humility and devotion to others.