A lovely older friend of mine died two summers ago. She was retired, a grandma, a lap swimmer until a year before she died, and just plain spunky, full of life and love. She made an insightful comment about women in her age group, “We so need to be needed.”
She was an example of another type of friend the Lord sends. This one is a wise counselor, an ally of great prayer. These women are spiritual mothers. These women are more than encouragers, though they do encourage. Neither is it their job to point out our flaws. These women have been given a great task.
These women have run the race on God’s path and claim the victory. They have experienced God’s power and might in their lives. They are still experiencing God’s power and might. They are still growing in their relationship to the Lord.
After all, we never “arrive” here on earth. We don’t “arrive” until we get to heaven. A woman of 60 or 70 bears just as many burdens as a woman of 20 or 30. The burdens just differ.
Conflict still exists. Temptation still exists. Frustration still exists. Confusion still exists. Yet, these women that God sends across your path have relied on the power and might of God to overcome. These women realize their job is not over just because their children have grown. They are spiritual mothers to all of God’s children. Their job is to “declare [God’s] power to the next generation”(Psalm 71:18).
If you are sick, you ask a doctor for help. When you are lost, you go to a gas station for directions. When a student is failing math, you call a math expert to tutor, not a reading expert.
As a woman, when you are confronted with issues about whether to stay at home or work, whether to have one child or three, to determine realistic expectations of your husband’s role in your marriage, and so many other things, talking to others who have confronted the same issues, who have lived with the results of their reactions to those issues can provide guidance, information maybe never considered, or just plain encouragement, well, it just helps make wise decisions.
That does not mean their choices should be your choices. These women cannot provide the answers to your life. However, these women can guide you to the answers you need or just provide encouragement.
If you are in crisis, you are in a place where choices need to be made, how can you know the right choices? How can you know the choices the Lord wants you to make?
People model themselves after what they see. If I am surrounded by discouragers, I become discouraged. If I am surrounded by worriers, I worry. However, if I surround myself with encouragers, I become an encourager. If I surround myself with women of prayer, I am better able to become a woman of prayer.
Naomi and Ruth encouraged each other. Mary and Elizabeth encouraged each other. The younger and older women in our churches, communities, and families need to encourage each other. The result is women better able to run the race on God’s path and claim the victory.
What better way to achieve this goal, than to surround ourselves with women who have ran the race and won the victory. God repeatedly admonishes His children to heed their responsibility to mentor the younger generation. Young men or women without spiritual mothers and spiritual fathers are like sheep without a shepherd.
These women are the Naomi to your Ruth. Naomi discouraged Ruth from going with her “on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah”(Ruth 1:7). She encouraged each of her daughter-in-laws to return to the homes of their mothers after their husbands had died. Ruth replied: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God”(Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth was respected and blessed for her devotion to Naomi. How often have the older women in our communities been over-looked and forgotten? Through Ruth’s relationship with Naomi, Ruth was able to
- acknowledge the God of Israel as her God, and
- receive wise counsel that brought her joy, safety, security, a loving husband, and children.
Naomi guided Ruth with her knowledge of the ways of the Lord, the laws He handed down to Moses. Ruth had only recently committed herself to the God of Israel. She needed a mentor, someone to guide her to right decisions. Ruth always approached Naomi for guidance. Naomi did not seek to “control” Ruth’s life; neither did she hand out unsolicited advice. Ruth sought Naomi’s wisdom. Naomi didn’t volunteer it.
People today want fresh new ideas, fresh new looks, fresh new inventions. What use are an old person’s ideas and experience? I found them invaluable. My parents were divorced and my grandfather died when I was 11. I needed develop appropriate expectations about marriage – and, yes, what that marriage would be like when I’m 60, 70, and 80. Do you outgrow arguments? Disagreements? Or do you still have them?
My friends Joan and Alva taught me a lot about prayer – how to pray as a mother – by how they prayed for me. They prayed for my sons, too. My oldest son,a camp counselor at a Christian summer camp, called me with an urgent request. One of his camper’s mom had cancer. He wanted to know if Joan, Alvah, and their friends would pray for her. He knew they were great women of prayer who could make things happen. They weren’t just moms or grandmothers.
They were Spiritual Mothers.