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DREAM BIG: A MOTHER’S DREAM

EXODUS 2.1-10

MAY 8, 2016

PARADISE VALLEY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Douglas Norris

A teacher asked a boy, “Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were seven in your family. What part of the pie would you get?” The boy thought about it and said, “A sixth.” The teacher said, “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions. Remember, there are seven of you.” “Yes, teacher, but you don’t know my mother. Mother would say she didn’t want any pie.”

A teacher asked a boy, “Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were seven in your family. What part of the pie would you get?” The boy thought about it and said, “A sixth.” The teacher said, “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions. Remember, there are seven of you.” “Yes, teacher, but you don’t know my mother. Mother would say she didn’t want any pie.”

Not only does mother gives up her piece of pie for her children, she dreams for them—hopefully big dreams.

The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt providing slave labor for Pharaoh’s ambitious construction projects. He needed them but he was also concerned about their rapid growth. He worried that they might join his enemies in case of war, so he instituted mandatory birth control with an edict—“when midwives see a Hebrew woman on a birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him.” Women gave birth sitting on a stool without a bottom and pushing. In many parts of the world, women in childbirth squat rather than lie down. Not knowing anything about it and never having given birth, I would think that sitting and pushing makes sense!

“Kill the baby boys!” ordered Pharaoh. But the Hebrew midwives feared God more than they feared the Pharaoh and they let the baby boys live. They courageously defied Pharaoh and told him, “Unlike Egyptian women, Hebrew women are vigorous and give birth before we get there!” What an interesting word: vigorous! Vigorously birthing a child! “Then,” Pharaoh said, “throw the babies into the Nile River.”

A Hebrew woman named Jochebed sat on the birthstool and gave birth to a boy. How thrilled she and the father, Amram, must have been, but then reality set in and they feared for the boy’s life.

What did this mother dream? Safety. Mother’s dream safety for their children— safe from diseases, safe from kidnappers, drug abuse, drive-by shootings, bad company, bullies on social media. Mothers want their children safe.

How Jochebed must have worried—frantic! Her baby son, if caught, would be thrown into the Nile River. Imagine the mental agony. Day after day she must have feared that this might be the last day I will have my baby! How she must have panicked when the baby cried. What if an Egyptian hears him? What if a soldier comes to investigate? How frantic she must have been when she heard footsteps outside, for fear it was a soldier coming to search the house.

For three months, she defied Pharaoh and then she made a monumental decision, a world-changing decision, a decision that led to the future salvation of her people. Trusting in God, she let her baby go. Jochebed made a basket, put her baby in it and placed the basket in the reeds along the river.

Jochebed let her baby go. On my last trip to the Holy Land, our tour guide, Ezra, told us about his mother-in-law. She was the only member of her family to survive the Nazi holocaust. When she was a little girl, the police came, and rounded up her family, along with other Jews. They marched them to the train station where they stood on the platform, huddled in fear, waiting for the train. There were awful rumors floating around about what happened to Jews who boarded the trains. But, all they really knew was that no Jew ever came back, no one ever returned.

While they were waiting for the train, a Roman Catholic nun approached, took Ezra’s future mother-in-law by the hand, and led her away. A guard shouted at her, and asked her what she was doing. The nun replied, "Can’t you see this girl has blonde hair and blue eyes. She doesn’t belong here." The mind of the little girl’s mother raced quickly, and with unbelievable mother love, she told the guard, "I don’t know this little girl. I don’t know who she belongs to." The Mother let her daughter go, and saved her life.

There comes a time when mothers need to cut the apron strings and let their children go. How hard it is when they first go to school, leave the house, get on the bus, or leave the car to walk into the school? I recall Eve’s recent sermon where she realized that when she was carrying William in her womb, it was the last time she always knew where he was! But a mother has to trust God to guide her children, then trust her children and let them go. Trust that she has done a good job talking to them, teaching them and modeling Christian behavior. Speaking of talking, I once observed a man and a young boy, probably about 7 years old, in a restaurant. I assumed it was a father and son. All through the meal, the father ate and manipulated his cell phone while the boy ate in silence, bored. The father never spoke to the boy. What an opportunity the father missed! Parents, grandparents, talk to children!

How tragic when a mother tries to keep her children under her thumb, not dreaming about their future but confining, chaining them to her. Helicopter parents—they hover! I recall sitting at a playground watching one of my granddaughters happily play when I noticed a well-dressed mother in high heels holding hands with her young boy. She went with him everywhere he went, wouldn’t let him play by himself or with other children, and when he wanted to go down the slide, she helped him up the ladder, and then held him as he went down the slide! Understandably, the little boy had no smile, no laughter but somberly let his controlling mother live his life. I wonder where the boy is today. Living at home with mother? Or did he rebel? Did he get into trouble? Or was he able to build an independent productive life away from his mother. I wonder what that mother dreamed for her child? Puny dreams?

Letting go of children today is scary. The world is not a friendly place. Parents have little control over their children’s choice of friends or mates. Making edicts like “I forbid you to hang out with them” just doesn’t work anymore. Children become defiant or secretive.

What parents can do is bring your children to church regularly. Encourage them to go to Sunday School and youth groups. Surround your children with good role models, and dream that good friends will be found. We are so pleased with the church friends our granddaughters are finding here at this church. How essential that our church provide the environment where children and youth can develop their own faith and find good friends to support and encourage them.

We are blessed that our three sons made good friends. They were raised in the church and never questioned that every Sunday they would be in church, with one exception which we found out about years later. When Tim was eight or nine, the Oakland A’s World series game was televised on Sunday morning. This was before recordings could be made to watch later. He told us he was sick and threw up, so he stayed home and watched the game. What we didn’t know was that he had thrown a glass of water in the toilet bowl, accompanied by sounds of retching!

Back to the story. Jochebed let her baby go and she got him back! When you give your children to God and let them go, you get them back! Probably Jochebed knew the schedule of Pharaoh’s daughter and what time she usually came to the river to bathe. Sure enough, when the princess and her attendants arrived, she heard a baby cry and saw the basket in the reeds. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” took pity on him and named him “Moses”, which means “I drew him out of the water.” Miriam, the baby’s sister was watching and when she saw that the princess was going to keep the baby, she approached her and said, “Shall I go find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby?” What a plan! She went and got Jochebed. The princess was pleased and said to Jochebed, “Take this child, nurse him and when he grows up, bring him to me.” Jochebed trusted God, let Moses go and she got him back—with interest! The princess paid Moses’ mother to nurse her own child. Does God perform miracles or what!

A mother’s big dream is that when she lets her children go, they come back. Doesn’t a mother dream that her children will not only survive, but thrive, become independent, resourceful, successful, loving adults who contribute to society, who love God and neighbor, who develop an adult relationship of mutual love and respect with their mother! Mothers (and fathers), trust God and your training and let them go.

Did Jochebed dream that Moses would eventually defy Pharaoh and lead the Hebrews through the Red Sea to the promised land? Was her dream that big?

Do you dream big for your children, your grandchildren? Do not limit dreams to what you think is possible. Dream a dream so big only God can fulfill it. Surround your children with big dreams. I don’t mean manipulation or pressure or imposing your dreams on them. I mean encouragement, to have faith in their ability to dream. If a child dreams about becoming President of the United States, don’t limit her dream. Don’t put her down. Don’t discourage her. Don’t laugh at her. Join her dream.

Tommy Barnett, long-time pastor of the First Assembly of God Church in Phoenix (a large church) is a big dreamer. He was a boy when he attended a crusade in a municipal auditorium with an attendance of 5,000. He turned to his dad and said, “Someday, I'm going to build a church this size.” His dad didn’t say, “Don’t be ridiculous.” He didn’t say, “Dream smaller!” What his dad did say was, “If you keep your motives right, someday that will come to pass.” And it did.

Mothers (and fathers), dream big!


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