“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Cor. 12:9
I recall a time in my life when the Lord was pressing in on me to follow through with His command: “You need to share the gospel with your mother.” I’ll now share a bit of the history of our relationship.
Looking “attractive” was, to my mom, one’s most important attribute. Success in the classroom and outside activities mattered as well; but of premiere importance was how you looked and who your friends were.
Don’t get me wrong. I always knew that my mom loved me. But she was highly competitive in both the looks department as well as in being seen by others as successful. I always felt like I fell way short of her standards. I was a fairly good student, moderately successful in sports, and mostly well-liked by my fellow students. But I did not stand above the crowd in any of my endeavors. Then there was the weight issue – the BIGGIE. From the age of 10 on, I have struggled with my weight and with food obsession. Most of my thoughts centered around 2 things: What I could eat and what I dare not eat. I know I was a major disappointment to her when overweight, which was unfortunately for most of my life.
Fast forward to April of 2006. Mom was in an assisted living facility in Philadelphia, near my sister. She had had a stroke and could no longer live alone. On my way to Philly, during the plane ride, I could sense the Holy Spirit’s prodding me to share Jesus with my mom. My sister and I knew that her days were numbered as she was refusing food and drink, and was sleeping a lot. Not good signs.
So the last day of my visit, I was an emotional and nervous wreck as I knew that “today is the day”. I told God I just didn’t see how I could do it. My mom was a very private person and religion was not discussed in our home. It was a personal matter and “one just didn’t do that”. So knowing this was truly intimidating. Plus, I had been a disappointment to her for so much of my life, how could I ever approach her, feeling I had been, in her eyes, a failure?
I sensed the Spirit leading me, in spite of my reticence, to lovingly share with mom how Jesus had transformed my life. In my heart, I heard Him say to me: “Forget about how you might look to her! What if she doesn’t know Him? Are you going to deny her the opportunity to hear how the love of Christ has changed you? How might her life be different if she accepted His invitation of grace and forgiveness, and hope?!? Let her see your joy and explain to her that you are now a new creation in Christ Jesus. The old is gone; the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17). My focus was to be on Jesus – His forgiveness, mercy and compassion, and His amazing grace.
I began to calm down and to realize that my fears were, yet again, based on how I would “look” to my mom. And they were selfish fears, as well. I sat on the edge of her bed and held her hand in mine. I shared how Jesus had forgiven me for all my sins and that I was now set free to live the life He was calling me to live – a life of joy, love, hope and purpose – HIS purpose. The words kept flowing forth in a torrent of joyful gratitude. My mom looked at me and said, “That was beautiful, darling. I can see how truly happy you are. And rest assured, I know Him too.”
We gently hugged. I apologized for having hurt and disappointed her in the past. She told me there was nothing to forgive. I kissed her and told her I loved her. A few weeks later, my sister Barbara was in the room when she entered heaven’s portals. As she breathed her last, Barb said she lifted her weak skinny arms up to the One with whom she would spend eternity.
I shall never forget the exhilaration and unbridled joy that I felt as I headed home. I had felt SO inadequate for the task the Lord had asked of me. Yet in spite of my uncertainty and fear, I knew in my spirit that I must surrender to His will and purpose. As a Christian, we are never to base our decisions or our actions on fear. In the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.
I might have never known that my mom had a relationship with Jesus had I not stepped out into the unknown and abandoned my will to His. That day in April of 2006, I had received a triple blessing: My mom would spend eternity with Jesus; our relationship was now restored; and I had received grace upon grace as I leapt out of the boat on to unknown waters, keeping my eyes on my Savior. My weakness had been rendered irrelevant as I cast myself on the One before Whom every knee will bow.