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Daughters & Their Mothers
by Barbara Smith
Mothers are women who give life to children or who care for children, and daughters are the female children of the women who give them life. Sounds simple, huh?
Mothers know better; daughters will too, eventually!
Mother-daughter relationships are never easy; simple sometimes, but, they are never easy. When we combine the two distinct gene pools of a man and a woman, add in their past history, factor in the disappearance of protective cultural norms, then multiply that equation by modern-day pressures, is it any wonder the problems among the generations of females in this nation erupt even in the Church?
Our daughters are delicate bundles of delights and dilemmas. Most of our beloved daughters relish their mother's instruction. Some, though, are brimming with spice and sugar, and a few seem equipped with extra pepper and salt! While many daughters flourish in the most intimate relationships between human beings, a mother and her child, some continue a running debate about every practice or principle their moms propose. Some young women lead their moms to faith in the Savior, and many more are the exquisite instruments through which God makes their moms' faith in Christ real.
Mothers also are delicate bundles. We help our daughters pack the "bags" they will carry for their lives. Sometimes moms will pass along only burdens; sometimes they pass along mixed bags of burdens and blessings; and some dear souls help their daughters leave their baggage so they can move along unencumbered, going from strength to strength.
No mother ever did or does her job 100% right that's why few mothers are totally comfortable with the hoopla surrounding the second Sunday in May. Even Mary didn't trust her own wisdom. Her last words are the most succinct advice on mothering ever written: "Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5)
Christians sometimes avoid Mary because some folks have elevated her to a position that Scripture simply does not support. Nevertheless, Scripture does mention her. Who was she?
Looking back at us with studied serenity from a Renaissance portrait, she seems so above the daily crush that does us in. What could she know of disobedient children, depression, depleted bank accounts and the other disappointments that define our lives today? When we read the Bible accounts of her life, though, we see this woman lived with some stress, stress that we often discount. Mary lived without luxury and lived with many heartaches. She was a real woman who lived through amazing times, "Pax Romana," when the Roman Empire had imposed a "worldwide" peace. She also raised real kids during those amazing times.
Mary was a mother to daughters and several sons, after her she gave birth to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt 13:55-56, Mark 6:3) Scripture does not name her daughters. Only a precious few women can say "Yes, Jesus of Nazareth is my older brother. He kept me safe from the bullies and the gossips; He taught me how to answer my mom and dad when they bugged me; He showed me how to love my other brothers . . . " Scripture is silent also about His sisters' acceptance of their Brother.
Jesus did not commend His sisters into the apostle John's care. If they had married, their husbands apparently could not provide the home Jesus wished for His mother. (Now that is a scary thought! Am I creating a home into which Jesus would commend His mom?)
Did His sisters come to understand, later, that Jesus must increase, and they must decrease? Like James and Jude learned, did Jesus' younger sisters eventually know that they were the humble bond-servants of the Lord Jesus Christ?
We simply don't know.
However, Mary knew who Jesus was, because she believed God and this was credited to her as righteousness -- not her womb.
I wonder how Mary introduced her daughters to their Messiah?
She may have spent many hours with her daughters recounting the wonder of the day that forever changed her life: when the Spirit of God conceived the life of her Firstborn Son. Mary's wisdom to her daughters probably rolled off her tongue as readily to them as it did to the servants at the wedding: "Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5)
How are you introducing your daughters to the Christ? Mothers need not be theologians. Mary was not a theologian, but she understood God. He was the infinite and personal God who chose Abraham to father a nation, through whom HE might reveal His glory to the nations. This much she knew. In addition, she had spoken with God's messenger, Gabriel, who confirmed that "with God, nothing is impossible."
She also had quite a teaching outline that God preserved in His word. If you wonder how to begin teaching the Old Testament history to your daughters, the Magnificat is a helpful starting point. If you wonder how to introduce your daughters to joy in the Lord, help them to understand what Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers." (Luke 1:46-55)
If you wonder how to approach character training with your daughter's, Mary also had an interesting point of view, not widely accepted today:
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38)
How would the atmosphere in our homes be different, Moms, if we yielded to God as Mary yielded?
How many Christian homes would become true out posts of heaven if we moms and their daughters could say from their hearts: "I am the Lord's servant . . . May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38-56)
How would our relationships be transformed if moms and their daughters acted on Mary's words and served God by serving one another, instead of ourselves first?
What heartaches in our homes do we compound, what victories do we forfeit because we balk and refuse to declare: "I am the Lord's servant . . . May it be to me as you have said."?
We know from Scripture that Mary had daughters, but we don't know about Mary's mother. Man's tradition, based upon the apocryphal New Testament literature, and according to the "Golden Legend" from the 13th century that maintains "Anne" was Mary's mother. Anne is often depicted wearing red, a color symbolic of love and holding a book that represents her role in the education of Mary. And godly Jewish mothers instructed their daughters. However, scripture does not say Anne instructed Mary, nor does the Bible teach that Anne immaculately conceived Mary. Scripture does clearly teach that Elizabeth, not her biological mother, comforted her younger relative, Mary, confirming that God was doing a mighty work in her. Luke does not say why, but when Mary became the "UNWED" mother of the only begotten Son of God, she traveled deliberately from Galilee into the hill country of Judea to see a woman who knew God and was known by Him her older kinswoman, Elizabeth.
How much of a priority is Christian fellowship to you? Mary took an arduous hike to find consolation and confirmation in the arms of one who loved the Lord. And she stayed for three months.
How many Christian homes would be changed because the women, young and old, sought the companionship of women who loved God, especially in times of grief or trial?
How many relationships could be strengthened if we lingered long enough to listen to godly counsel, and to learn from another wiser Christian?
Was it just easier for Elizabeth because she lived 2,000 years ago, and life wasn't so complicated then? Elizabeth, the wife and daughter of a priest opened her home to a young woman who was "disgraced" in the eyes of her neighbors perhaps her own parents. Elizabeth responded not to the troubles Mary posed, but to the possibilities and so glorified God and encouraged Mary's faith.
Some women's problems can consume many valuable hours of other women's jam-packed schedules:
"Little" women have many questions and concerns that seem so insignificant to women who have big responsibilities.
Young women have hopes and ambitions and disappointments that can consume a busy mother's time.
Elderly women also have unique and time-consuming cares. Solomon anticipated the problems the "more mature" can pose: "Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old." (Prov 23:22)
Despise? What a horrible attitude! "Surely, not I Lord?"
Do you ever examine your attitudes as a mom or a daughter?
David sometimes wondered about his motives! He said: " Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Ps 139:23-24)
If you are busy now, so busy, you think that you will explode; if you wonder about your principles as a mom or a daughter, will you ask God to: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; . . ."
What is in your heart right now? Write it out. It's just between you and the Lord. He KNOWS already but He wants you to know. It will not be a sin that is BIGGER than His Son's Sacrifice! Does that KNOWLEDGE bring joy into your heart?
Ask God, ". . . try me . . ." A radio preacher said that God comes to us in the shape of our needs He also brings our trials. Nothing comes into our life without passing through our Father's hands. Will you list the trials that are aggravating or afflicting you? He knows why He allowed them, and though He may not tell you why, God wants to talk to you about them.
Are you willing that God might know your anxious thoughts? God doesn't expect us to be spiritual giants who never worry. He wants us to come as little children and little kids get frightened. Please read Psalm 37 and tell God what worries you.
Talk to your Father about your fears, and see if there be any hurtful way in you. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (I Jn 1:9-10) As you confess and repent, God will lead you in the everlasting way.
Will you talk to God about those pot holes in your walk with Him?
Will you quit trying to wrestle the Lord for position, power, or another seemingly innocuous form of "autonomy"?
The Lord Jesus cared for His elderly mother when He was in agony, groaning under the weight of the sins I committed. He has set us an example we can follow in our busy lives, and God has given the Holy Spirit to make it possible. "Do not despise your mother when she is old." (Prov. 23:22)
Let's go back to Elizabeth, the older women who cared for Mary:
How many older women are willing to extend the "stakes of their tents" and shelter a hurting heart for a season? (Isaiah 54:2)
Another woman in the Bible "extended the stakes of her tent," and the hurting heart she helped, became a relative of Mary and the Lord Jesus! We know that Ruth, the Moabitess is an ancestress of the Lord Jesus. Her faith in the God of the Hebrews is unmistakable throughout the book that bears her name. Ruth had an ally in Naomi. Ruth's husband may have introduced her to God before he died, but her mother-in-law, Naomi, nurtured this faith, though she stumbled perhaps in her grief. Though she had lost her husband and both sons, Naomi put the well-being of her daughters-in-law before her own. Then she recognized the formation of faith in her daughter-in-law's heart and did not discourage her coming back to Israel and so both went back to Bethlehem. It was a long. walk around the Dead Sea, more than 60 miles! I wonder what they talked about?
Did Naomi complain or explain? Maybe both but this reminds me, all conversations I have, especially with those women who are new to the faith, are important opportunities for me to guard my tongue as God retrains my heart. Naomi's heart may have been "bitter," but her daughter-in-law, Ruth, saw a woman who was coping because her God had a way of escape.
What do you talk about with your daughter?
Elizabeth and Mary may have talked about Ruth and Naomi, or about Tamar and Rahab. These women would have also known about the wife of Uriah, Bathsheba. What encouragement is the word of God to those whose hears are troubled!
Can you talk about how God moved in the lives of women, named and unnamed, in the Bible? Your daughters might be greatly encouraged!
Mary, for a small-town girl, had a good grasp on who God was, So when the physician Luke interviewed her, her Magnificat was quite an eloquent testimony about God! Mary knew that God was the infinite, personal ruler of the universe, and He was the Giver of her daily bread.
Are we that savvy today?
When was the last time you took your little girl or son by the hand and counted the stars?
"Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing." (Isa 40:26)
The God who is your child's Creator made the stars and has not lost one. How much more value are we who are created in His image? God will never lose the child we commend to His care.
When was the last time you prayed with gratitude for the money to buy your daily bread before you took your children shopping?
"Two things I asked of Thee, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, Lest I be full and deny Thee and say, Who is the LORD?' Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God." (Prov 30:7-9)
Man's tradition accords Mary a higher honor than she ever sought. She simply believed what the Lord said to her would be accomplished! She glorified the Lord and in her spirit she rejoiced in God, her Savior.
How would our parenting be redeemed if we confessed that what the Lord says to us in HIS word will be accomplished? Maybe we could relax then, and enjoy the few short years we have our children?
Mary knew the history of her God's merciful intervention in the affairs of His people. As a woman subjugated by the most powerful Empire in the ancient world, Mary never lost sight of the mighty deeds of her God. She believed her God would repay and reward, even her. Her God was the organizing principle of her life. (Luke 1:45-55)
Is God the organizing principle of your parenting?
How many Christian homes would be transformed if God's daughters calmed down, because we know Go will intervene on our behalf, fighting our battles, for the battle belongs to HIM?
Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army: the kids, the bills, the in-laws, the homework, the world situation, "whirled" peas, or the environment. "For the battle is not yours, but God's."
How many relationships between mothers and their daughters would be healed and strengthened because we would rely on God to right the wrongs we suffer?
Whether you are a brand-new mother or an old hand, whether you are on speaking terms with your mother, or mother-in-law, or not; will you remember that God permits each relationship? He established it and He will preserve it for His Glory He may also choose to end it. As God provided an earthly father in Joseph for His beloved Son, so He became Israel's Father, adopting them as His own daughter. (Ezekiel 16) He talks with a father's pride, and a father's grief about His virgin daughter's wanderings. In Scripture God uses the powerful emotional images of mothers and daughters to teach His people who He is and the hope He has for His people.
His love for His children is more devoted than the love of a mother for her child. (Isaiah 49:15-16)
His compassion is more tender. (Isa 66:13-14).
His goal for us is that we will nestle close to Him as a weaned child. (Psalm 131:2)
By God's grace, I am a mother and by His providence I was the daughter of a woman who now dwells in Glory with Him. I have not always done whatever Christ commanded and I have frequently forgotten whose servant I am. And I resisted God's good plans for my life, so I cannot boast in either of these two roles.
It is the underside of the canvas of my life that overshadows my vision. I look forward to the day when I see the tapestry God is weaving with the minutes and hours of my life. Oh, I can see the traces of His golden glorious threads, and these flashes of His goodness refresh and sustain my heart but my record as a daughter and a mother is a tangle of knots and loose ends.
And still He has granted me another day of life I don't want to waste it!
Will you join me in a prayer for your daughters or moms, applying one woman's wisdom?
Oh God, Your angel told Mary, "For nothing is impossible with God." And right now, Father, many things in our lives seem impossible: Our strength is diminishing, we seem to have misplaced our Joy in the Lord Jesus Christ and so we are weak, Father, weak.
May we turn our eyes upon the Lord Jesus and behold His passion for us.
Please God by the power of your Holy Spirit, renew our passion. Or if there is one soul reading this prayer who does not know You as Savior, ignite her passion for Christ, so we join Mary and proclaim: "I am the Lord's servant . . . May it be to me as you have said."
Give each of us the grace and the courage to be Your servant, first, as we serve the people you give us. Father, may we rejoice in You because of the strengths of our loved ones, and may we always pray that they overcome their limitations in YOUR power, for Your Glory.
Father, may we submit graciously and joyfully to the boundaries of our lives YOU have granted us, for Your Son submitted to the Cross for each woman here.
When we turn our attention back to our homes -- whether to calm or confusion, peace or pain, may each woman here glorify You, Lord, with the words of her mouth and the meditations of her heart.
Father, You know the needs in each life; the hurts in each heart. May we choose this day to believe that what the Lord has said to us will be accomplished!
When I consider the works of Your hands, You have done great things for me -- holy is Your name. Give me the courage and conviction to tell those I love, in love, "Do whatever the Lord Jesus Christ tells you." (Lk. 1:37-55)
© Barbara W. Smith 1999, all rights reserved
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