I want you to imagine something with me. Picture in your mind 80,000 children who are getting food and an education and hope for their themselves and their families. And now add to that tens of thousands of people whose lives are changed because they now have clean drinking water. And let’s also think about countless people who have received a mosquito net or a goat or a sewing machine, and who are themselves climbing out of poverty and making a better future for themselves and their communities.
Okay now I want you to imagine something else. A little woman, not even five feet tall, is cooking over a fire in a worn, faded sari. She doesn’t speak English. She has never stepped foot outside her village, and she never will.
Could it be, that one of the primary reasons, or instruments, for all those countless people being helped, is that little woman?
I tell you, that is the truth. And that little woman is my mother. With Mother’s Day coming up, I want to tell you a little bit about her life.
A Life of Being Misunderstood
She would wake up at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and go into the next room and put a mat on the floor, and sit there and put her veil on her head, and she’d pray for two or three hours. We could hear her praying, and sometimes weeping, from the other room.
As a little boy growing up in a tiny village by the riverbank, I would hear my mother say the same statement over and over and over again: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (Psalm 73:25).
Back then I didn’t know that was in the Bible. I would hear her say that statement all the time, and I wondered why. She was different. And there was something about her eyes, her face, of a whole different world.
All my growing up years, I saw her life—the loneliness and the walk she had with the Lord. Like in Genesis 5:24 it says about Enoch, “And Enoch walked with God.” There were thousands of women in my village, but my mother saw Him who is invisible, and she walked away from materialism, friendships, her dreams and wishes, and she lived knowing that everything in this present life will soon be over.
She prayed and fasted every Friday for three and a half years that the Lord would call one of her sons to serve Him. And the Lord answered that prayer; He called me to serve Him. And now look at what He has done: all the children in Bridge of Hope, all the Jesus Wells that have been drilled, all the gifts that have been given. And it started because a woman walked with the Living God, and He was pleased to use her life.
Living in that kind of loneliness and not being understood, she no doubt suffered immensely. We are all human, and we long to be understood. But she chose that road of difficulty, without anyone else realizing it, so that she could know God.
And as a byproduct of that, the Lord used her life.
Faithfulness Where You Are
But what about you?
You may not feel like some super-spiritual person—you are just you. Your life is filled with appointments and traffic jams and kids whining, and suddenly you realize, Oh no, I’m running late! And did I forget to shut the garage door?
Sometimes it feels like you’re barely keeping your head above water. When you go to church, you don’t want people to judge you, so you smile and don’t complain much about it. But on the inside, you are sad and discouraged. And you hear talks about faith, and you say, “I don’t understand. Nothing works like that for me. But I will pretend.”
Then maybe the Enemy comes and makes you think, “I don’t have any faith. I’m not a good Christian. Am I even saved at all?” And we say to ourselves, “I’d better not let anyone know I’m thinking these things; I’ll just keep pretending.”
So we live like that in our own world of confusion, not really having hope.
But I want to tell you this. Some of the best things God does, He does through times when you and I don’t feel anything; when we are discouraged, and our prayers are dry.
But that is the mystery of faith.
My mother had six boys to raise, and you can imagine it probably didn’t always feel super spiritual. And I think about the life of Amy Carmichael. Her life literally changed the world. We hear about all she did for those little children, and the poems and letters she wrote. But did you know that for the last nearly 20 years of her life, she lived in perpetual agony, lying bedridden? Do you think she felt super spiritual all the time?
Here is what I’m saying: Wherever the Lord has placed you—whether you are typing on a computer and going to endless meetings, or bussing tables in a loud restaurant, or dealing with difficult people all day on the phone—I want you to know that the Lord is working through you. Your walk with Him and everything you do for Him, no matter how small—it matters. He sees. And He will use it to touch the lives of other people.
What We Will See in Heaven
If you were to travel back in time to my village, maybe 50 years ago, and you found that little village woman, and you sat down and explained to her the outcome of her life—all the many, many people who would be touched by the love of God through her—she wouldn’t have believed you.
There would be no way for her to understand what her life would mean to that many people.
But now, she is sitting in heaven as part of the “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), and she can see me and she can see you; she sees all that has happened through her life, and she can finally say, “It all makes sense now.” She knows the purpose of her suffering and her loneliness. She sees the answers to her prayers.
And it will be the same for you and me. The things the Lord allowed that we didn’t understand, and the prayers we never saw the answers to, and the loneliness of walking before God and before Him alone—it will all make sense. And it will all be worth it.
A Chance to Reach Out to Children in Need
So Mother’s Day is coming up. I want to say a word to you sisters reading this who are mothers. You are raising your kids while your husband is off at work, or you’re trying to balance both a job and the kids, and you say to yourself often, “What on earth am I doing, spending my life like this?” And it can be a headache and a half, especially when the kids are bouncing off the walls. But I want to encourage you that what you’re doing—even the most mundane thing you do—is extremely significant. Your service to the Lord by raising those kids to know Him and walk with Him is no less important than what anyone else is doing. And I appreciate what you’re doing so much.
And for those of us who aren’t mothers, and maybe even for those who are, may I encourage you to take a moment to see if there is anything you can do to reach out to a child in need? Maybe there is a child in your neighborhood, or at your church, who could use a kind word to show that you care. Or maybe you could take another step, and bring hope to a child by sponsoring them through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope Program.
In fact, Karen Mains recently wrote a three-part article about Mother’s Day, and it is quite interesting to read that when Mother’s Day was first organized in the U.S., it had to do with mothers who were working to make a difference and improve the world around them. As this article suggests, maybe for some of us, “Mother’s Day might be utilized as a day to contribute positively and substantively to the plight of women worldwide,” or to the plight of needy children.
Be Faithful. It Is Worth It.
No matter what place in life you find yourself, the Lord has called you to know Him in it—to walk with Him and, in that way, to touch the lives of others. May He give us the grace to be faithful.