One of my favorite preachers to read is Charles Haddon Spurgeon. For years I have read his Morning and Evening devotional which offers short, yet very powerful, excerpts of Spurgeon’s writings. While searching for more of his material, I recently came across his Farm Sermons. If you’ve never read them, may I urge you to do so! And before you start saying that you’re not a farmer, trust me, you don’t have to be to glean from the wisdom he shares from Scripture!
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Spurgeon, he was born in Essex, England in 1834. He was a pastor for 38 years in London and is known as the “Prince of Preachers”. He was a prolific writer as well (I just bought his 3 volumes on Psalms), having a lasting impact that has far surpassed his living years.
Of course, anytime I start to think about the greatness of a person, I always wonder what their story is. How did they become who they became and why? Looking back over time and seeing God’s providence is always amazing and encouraging (though sometimes hard to do in our own lives).
My natural inclination was to first think about Charles’s parents. What were they like? And as a mother myself, I especially wondered what was his mother like? What did she do to raise such an incredible son?
Though there’s not a lot about his mother, Eliza, what we do know is that she had 17 children. 9 of those children died as infants. Read that again. 9 of her 17 children died as young children. As a mother of young children, the thought of losing 1 child is beyond imaginable. But to bury 9 of your 17 children?
Yet, Eliza remained one of Charles’s and his sibling’s greatest influences. His brother said, “She was the starting point of all the greatness and goodness any of us, by the grace of God, have ever enjoyed.”
Here’s what Charles’s had to say about his mother:
“Yet I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother. It was the custom, on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scripture to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading; there was a little piece of Alleine’s Alarm, or of Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted, and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat round the table; and the question was asked, how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord. Then came a mother’s prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey. I remember, on one occasion, her praying thus: “Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” That thought of a mother’s bearing swift witness against me, pierced my conscience, and stirred my heart. When I was a child, if I had done anything wrong, I did not need anybody to tell me of it; I told myself of it, and I have cried myself to sleep many a time with the consciousness that I had done wrong; and when I came to know the Lord, I felt very grateful to Him because He had given me a tender conscience.
Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother; neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring. A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of “mother” is creation’s blot. Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother. Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent; others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me. How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, “Oh, that my son might live before Thee!” Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,—that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities; and her smiles have never faded from my recollection,—the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good thing in me towards the Lord God of Israel.
Well do I remember hearing my father speak of an incident that greatly impressed him. He used to be frequently away from home preaching, and at one time, as he was on his way to a service, he feared that he was neglecting his own family while caring for the souls of others. He therefore turned back, and went to his home. On arriving there, he was surprised to find no one in the lower rooms of the house; but, on ascending the stairs, he heard a sound as of someone engaged in prayer. On listening at the bedroom door, he discovered that it was my mother, pleading most earnestly for the salvation of all her children, and specially praying for Charles, her first-born and strong-willed son. My father felt that he might safely go about his Master’s business while his dear wife was caring so well for the spiritual interests of the boys and girls at home, so he did not disturb her, but proceeded at once to fulfil his preaching engagement.
My mother said to me, one day, “Ah, Charles! I often prayed the Lord to make you a Christian, but I never asked that you might become a Baptist.” I could not resist the temptation to reply, “Ah, mother! the Lord has answered your prayer with His usual bounty, and given you exceeding abundantly above what you asked or thought.”
I absolutely love this! What will your children say about you, mothers (and fathers)? When your children meet over a meal and recall their childhood memories, what will they recall? Will they talk about your faithfulness to the Lord? Will they recall a worn-out Bible and the Scripture you read to them repeatedly?
Teach your children God’s Word. Pray earnestly for them. When you are struggling, remember Eliza, a mother who endured much heartache, but found her strength in the Lord!