By Rebekah Theilen
“Part of the sanctification of motherhood is learning to trust God with our children.” Cindy Rollins, Mere Motherhood.
Our pastor preached a beautiful sermon that stayed with me. It was based on the Scripture reading from the Gospel of John, the story when Jesus turns the water into wine. Jesus and his disciples are in Cana for a wedding. While they are there, Mary, the Lord’s mother, comes to Jesus with an important matter.
“They have no wine,” Mary tells Jesus. How Mary heard the news of the unfolding event, we aren’t told, but Jesus must have known that the word from his mother was more than mere gossip, and more than a casual informative statement. Mary wasn’t mingling in the crowd with her wine glass, sipping warm water, hoping to make interesting conversation. She was turning to God in a face-to-face prayer.
“Woman, what does this have to do with me,” Jesus replies. “My hour has not yet come.” It seems an odd question for Jesus to ask. Has He not come to show the world His glory, to be about His Father’s business? After thirty years of walking with Jesus, of pondering day after day in her heart, surely the Lord’s mother would have known Him well, known who she was talking to, and what He was capable of.
“Do whatever He tells you,” she says to the servants. These are the last words of Mary recorded in the Bible. The mother tells the others to listen to her Son. The woman known to us by her humble-hearted, “I am the Lord’s servant; May it be to me as you have said,” sets the stage for the Lord’s first sign. Jesus turns and tells the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim.
“Who is this Man” the disciples would later ask, “that even the wind and the waves obey Him?” Twenty years earlier, we found the boy Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Upon reuniting with Jesus after losing Him for three days, the relieved Mary asks the boy, “Son, why have you treated us this way?” Like any mother whose child has gone missing, her heart was, understandably, greatly troubled. But Jesus returns home to Nazareth with his mother and father, and the Scriptures say He was obedient to them.
How do you teach God to honor you? Did Mary and Joseph teach Jesus the commandments, or did He always “just know” them from the time He was born? It takes years and years to train up a child, but by the time Jesus is grown, after all the years He and His mother have spent together, Mary has mysteriously grown up alongside Him. “Do whatever He tells you,” Mary says. Her maternal efforts are no longer focused on teaching children to obey her, but rather, on entreating the children of man to obey God.
My vocation as mother will change someday. There are already years behind me, seasons that have come and gone. I can look back and see how I could have done things differently, as well as see how the heartaches and hard times are yielding fruit, how God is truly working all things for our good. I am also in a place where I still, if God wills it, have years ahead of me, though not as many as I used to have. These middle roads I’m on are places of learning from past mistakes, re-establishing my mothering priorities to fit the current season, and choosing to move forward in faith and love.
The heart of my mothering, if I was to search and find the words, has been to cultivate a relationship with my children. I want to be close to them. I enjoy being with them. From the earliest days of reaching out to touch the tree bark with my infant son, to keeping them fed and freshly dressed, to this current season of homeschooling, I cherish the years I’ve had to show them the world, to be the one to nurture and guide them through life. But I am not always going to be there for them. Though it was my milk that nourished them through years they won’t remember, I am not their truest love. There is One who cares even deeper than I do.
This is what I love about Mary in the story of the wedding at Cana: Her earthly vocation has yielded to Jesus. Cindy Rollins, in her beautiful book Mere Motherhood, writes, “The role of the older mother is prayer.” That’s not the life skill we typically think of! Mary shows us what it looks like to cast your cares on the Lord. She takes the troubles of this world to Jesus, in full faith He hears her voice, and with deep trust in whatever her Son decides to do. She knows that He is good, that He loves her, and cares about the ones she intercedes for. What a great comfort this is to me as a mother who dearly loves her children!
The outcome isn’t up to me. “Do whatever He tells you,” His mother now says. “Listen to Him,” echoes at the Transfiguration. This is the beloved Son. The Father in heaven and the mother on earth come together in one voice, a two-witness testimony of the Way and the Truth. I truly hope to point my children in the same direction, praying their journeys in this life would find them in the same dear place my journey as mother has brought me--closer to God.
Rebekah spends her days living life alongside her husband and children. She enjoys reading, homeschooling, and every once in a great while, chasing after the wind.