There are a handful of things in my life that have always been there—changeless, consistent, dependable: the sun has not failed to rise or set since the day I was born; the earth has not perceptibly changed its spin in my lifetime; God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And then there is my mother. She has always been there.

She prayed the first prayer and sang the first hymn I ever heard.

She was there
when I took my first breath;
when I howled my first cry;
when I gurgled my first laugh;
when I lisped my first word;
when I took my first step;
when I cut my first tooth;
when I lost my first tooth;
when I went to school the first day;
when I was baptized;
when I graduated;
when I married;
when I became a father;
when I buried my firstborn;
when I buried my wife;
when, together, we buried my father.

My value system came from her. More than once, I wandered off in a prodigal son swagger—and each time limped back from the far country because of the pull of her influence, unable to endure the pain of disappointing her.

I tried her patience, tested her endurance, taxed her limits.

But she stood strong, forming me, informing me, reforming me.

When I ignored her counsel, she continued to love me.

When I made foolish choices, she continued to love me.

When I stumbled and failed, she continued to love me.

When I was unlovable, she continued to love me.

She taught me about the One who gives life direction, purpose, and joy. She taught me to get up and keep going after bruising failures—and to keep my eyes on God after heady successes.

Because of her, I know God.

Because of her, I love Jesus.

Because of her, I am inhabited by his Spirit.

Because of her, I belong to his church.

Because of her, I treasure his Word.

Even though she has been physically gone for fifteen years, there is a sense in which she will always be present.

I bow my head and heart in remembrance and gratitude on this Mother’s Day.

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