Keepers of the Springs

1 May 2005

Mothers are, to use Peter Marshall’s metaphor from a sermon, “the keepers of the springs.” Reverend Marshall told the story of a small village that grew up at the foot of the mountain. Up in the hills, a forest dweller decided that he would be the keeper of the springs. Everywhere he found a spring, he would remove the filth so the water would be clean, cold and pure, never stagnant. He performed his job with delight, and the city responded with their thanks and a monthly check. The keeper of the springs kept the water flowing, and it became a river of life to the town. Mill wheels turned by its rush, and gardens were refreshed by its waters. One year, when income was low, the city council met to decide its budget. They decided they would have to let the keeper of the springs go. So, he no longer went to the springs to clean, and soon the filth began to accumulate. As a result, sickness found its way into many homes. Some even died. The city council then met again, realizing their mistake, and invited the keeper of the spring back into his position. Health and life was restored from the waters that flowed pure again. Peter Marshall said that it is the mother who is the modern day keeper of the spring. Her ministry to the family, he said, keeps it glowing with health.

In 1 Samuel 1:11, 27-28, the picture is of a mom who stands before God as the greatest intercessor her son would ever know. It was Hannah’s prayer that touched the hem of God’s garment, and it was Hannah’s spiritual influence on Samuel that shaped his young life. Her ministry to God and her son made all the difference in that boy’s life, and in the nation of Israel!

I don’t know if there is a more powerful force on this earth than a mother’s prayers for her children. I think about Moses’ mother who had her son only for a short time before she had to give him to Pharaoh to be raised. Can you imagine that mother’s prayer life during the short time she had Moses with her? Can you imagine her prayer life after she turned him over to Pharaoh? Moses’ parents made it into the hall of fame in eleventh chapter of Hebrews. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.” Moses is the hero of the Jews in the Old Testament, but it was the faith of his parents that God used to shape this man into a leader of whom could be said, ”By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin…” (Hebrews 11:23-25).

In 2 Timothy 1:3-5, we get a third picture of motherhood. Paul praises his disciple Timothy, calling him his “beloved son.” But the picture Paul paints of Timothy’s mother and grandmother is a portrait of faith. Apparently, Timothy’s father was not a believer, but God worked through his mother and his grandmother to give him a sound foundation. Paul says later in the same letter to Timothy that he learned the Word as a young child. The man who would become the most beloved companion of the greatest missionary learned the Word of God as a young child on his mother’s knee. She had “genuine faith,” Paul said, and that kind of faith makes a difference in every person it touches.

Look at the life of Susanna Wesley. She was the youngest of twenty-five children who gave birth to nineteen children. Eleven of her children died in childhood. She was chastised for publicly teaching the gospel message to crowds—sometimes as many as 200 people would gather at her home! But, oh how God used Susanna Wesley to give away her faith to her children. As each child turned five, she tutored them in the alphabet and then, beginning in Genesis, she taught them to read, word by word, from the Scriptures. “I wonder at your patience,” her husband Samuel once said. “You have told that child twenty times the same thing.” “If I had satisfied myself by mentioning it only nineteen times,” Susanna Wesley answered, “I should have lost all my labor. It was the twentieth time that crowned it!”

Mothers, you are at the very heart of your house, a fruitful vine that brings a blessing to your husband, your children, your homeschool, the church, and the nation. Your prayers and your faith change lives that will change the world. Be encouraged! You truly are the keepers of the springs.

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