How far does a momma’s influence reach? When does she get to see whether her light and life make a difference? How can she know if her children will choose to follow the Lord? We mommas disciple our children. However, much as we would like, we cannot control the outcome of their walks with God. That will be seen in time.
The book of Exodus tells the story of a momma who experienced this. When we first meet her, she is an unnamed Levite woman who gives birth to a beautiful baby. Every momma can relate to this, because we all look at our children and think they’re the prettiest things we’ve ever laid eyes on.
However, this momma birthed her baby in treacherous times. The pharaoh declared that all newborn Hebrew boys were to be thrown into the Nile River. This ancient momma wasn’t about to go down without a fight, though. By faith, she made a little basket of reeds, put her beautiful baby in it, and placed the arc gently in the river. The pharaoh’s daughter found the infant, named him Moses, kept him as her own and paid his real momma to nurse him. We all know the story.
What we often don’t think about is how Moses’ momma henceforth used the time she had with him. Of course, she fed him with the food of her body. Ah, but I believe she gave him so much more!
We don’t find out her name until the genealogies of Exodus 6, but, when we do, we discover something profound. Her name was Jochebed – which means something to the effect of “God is my glory.” Hers is the very first name in Scripture that is a compound of God’s name with a character trait.
In however long Jochebed had with Moses before relinquishing him to the palace, one thing is certain: she influenced him for the Lord. She surely impressed upon him who God is and what He is like. Maybe she had a few years; maybe she got to stay in relationship with Moses for decades. Scripture doesn’t tell us. But we know that godly leaders don’t happen by accident, and Jochebed was the faith-filled mother of leaders.
Jochebed showed Moses God’s glory. But – oh! – Moses strayed! He thought he was doing God a favor, but he killed a man made in God’s image. All Israel knew of his sin; the Egyptians did, too. Moses ran for his life to the wastelands of the desert.
Was Jochebed a failure? Her kid was a murderer! Surely that was the mark of motherhood gone awry. If Jochebed was still alive, I know she grieved. Would her son ever come back? Would he ever make right the sin of his youth? Would he return to the Lord whose glory she had taught him?
Whether beside heaven’s throne or on dusty knees, I’m certain Jochebed was interceding for her son. God, grab his attention! God, show him Your glory! God, make Yourself real to my son! I can imagine Jochebed’s cries.
And there, in the far away desert, God began to answer her prayers. Jochebed’s son could sin grievously, but he couldn’t outrun God’s presence. Beside a burning bush that wouldn’t burn up, Moses encountered the holiness and greatness of God. For the first time, the glory of God his mother had taught him became personal reality to him. This encounter changed his life, so much so that, years later, Moses asked God an audacious question: “Please, let me see Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). I hear a tantalizing echo: God, show me what momma knew about You!
Discipling our kids is about showing them the glory of God. Discipleship is about making Him famous in our lives so that, Lord willing, someday, they will make Him famous in their lives, too.
When we mommas say, “God is my glory,” it gives our children the opportunity to say, “God is my glory, too!” And just as peoples and nations and history have come to know God through Moses, such can happen through our families’ legacies, too.
So how far does your discipleship go? How far does your influence reach?
It reaches as far as your light shines for God’s glory.
And, maybe just maybe, you will see a mother’s greatest glory: another light shining for Jesus even brighter than her own into the next generation.