By Rev. Mark H. Creech, Executive Director
Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc.
It’s been said that no other force in life is as great as that of a mother. Theodore Roosevelt put it this way: “The mother is the one supreme asset of the national life. She is more important, by far, than the successful statesman, businessman, artist or scientist.”
Truly, a mother’s influence can be marvelously seen in the lives of some of the most famous people from every strata of social order.
When George Washington was quite young, he was about to set sail as a midshipman. Everything was ready to go. His belongings had already been taken on board as he turned to bid his mother goodbye. But his mother’s tears stopped him. Seeing her distress, he turned to a servant and said, “Go and tell them to fetch my trunk back. I will not go away to break my mother’s heart.” Washington’s mother, deeply moved by his decision said to him, “God has promised to bless the children that honor their parents; and I believe he will bless you.” Indeed, God did bless George by making him the father of our country — the first President of the United States.
Patrick Henry was an American Revolutionary leader and orator, who spoke the now famous phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death.” His mother was well known for her remarkable conversational ability.
A man of the highest moral character, who was nicknamed “Honest Abe” and led America through the dark days of the Civil War, once said, “All that I am, or can become, I owe to my angel mother.”
Isidor Isaac Rabi, one of America’s outstanding physicists, said he became a scientist for one compelling reason alone: “I couldn’t help it.” Every day Rabi came home from public school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side his mother would ask him: “Did you ask any good questions today?”
A single mother raised Robert Fulton. Best known for his invention of the steamboat, Fulton said, “She developed my early talent for drawing and encouraged me in my visits to the machine shops of the town.” Robert struggled with his studies in school and one day the teacher complained to his mother. To which Fulton’s mother replied: “My boy’s head, sir, is so full of original notions there is no vacant chamber in which to store the contents of your musty books.” Fulton said, “I was only ten years old at the time and my mother seemed to be the only human being who understood my natural bent for mechanics.”
Thomas A. Edison, probably the greatest of America’s inventors said, “I did not have my mother long, but she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor. I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of a different caliber, I should have turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness, were potent powers to keep me in the right path. My mother was the making of me.”
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the famous French sculptor who gave America the Statue of Liberty, looked for a model whose form and features he could reproduce. One of the leading art authorities of his day advised him the great statue should depict “figures of thought which are grand in themselves.” After examining various outstanding heroes, Bartholdi chose as a model for the colossal masterpiece — his own mother.
Jean-Francois Millet, the French realist painter, whose Angelus captivated the art-loving world, had a godly grandmother. As he was leaving home to study in Paris, she told him, “I would rather see you dead than unfaithful to God’s commands.” When he became one of the greatest painters of his day, her influence could be seen in every picture he put on canvass. She kept reminding him, “Remember, you were a Christian before you became a painter.”
One of the world’s greatest singers, Enrico Caruso, was told by his first voice teacher: “You can’t sing. You haven’t any voice at all. Your voice sounds like the wind in the shutters.” But Caruso’s mother believed in him. Putting her arms around him, she encouraged him, saying, “My boy, you’ll be great! I am going to make every sacrifice to pay for your voice lessons.” Her confidence in him eventually paid off.
When the will of Henry Heinz, a man who revolutionized the food industry, was read it was found to contain the following confession: “Looking forward to the time when my earthly career will end, I desire to set forth at the very beginning of this will, as the most important item in it, a confession of my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I also bear witness to the fact that throughout my life, in which there were unusual joys and sorrows, I have been wonderfully sustained by my faith in God through Jesus Christ. This legacy was left to me by my consecrated mother, a woman of strong faith, and to it I attribute any success I have attained.”
When Carter L. Burgess in the 1950s resigned as Assistant Secretary of Defense and became the President of Trans World Airlines, the Army awarded him an exceptional service medal. After listening to a glowing tribute paid him by Army Secretary Wilber M. Brucker, Burgess said, “I am sorry my mother is not here. She not only would have enjoyed this ceremony, but she would have believed every word of it.”
Though some would dispute it, according to various sources, “Old Mother Goose” was a real person whose maiden name was Elizabeth Foster. Born near Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1865, she married Isaac Goose, who later died, leaving her a widow with ten children. For the entertainment of her exceptionally large brood, she often wrote nursery rhymes. One of her daughters married Thomas Fleet, a printer from Boston. Fleet later took his mother-in-law’s rhymes and stories and published them.
Augustine had a mother who devoted her life to his Christian upbringing and conversion to Christ. In his early years, Augustine lived in gross immorality. He flaunted moral restraint and unabashedly rebelled against God. It seemed as though all his mother’s efforts would amount to nothing. But one day, he was brought to his senses as he remembered her prayers for him. Augustine repented of his sins and was gloriously saved. He later went on to become the great Church Father and theologian.
Most people have heard of the great Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, but few have ever heard of his mother, Margarete Luder, the wife of a coal miner who often went hungry so young Martin might attend school.
Despite the fact she had 19 children, Susanna Wesley found time to give each child an hour’s religious instruction every week. She also spent at least an hour alone daily praying for them. Her two sons, John and Charles, under God, brought revival to England while France trudged through the blood of a ghastly revolution. John also became the founder of Methodism.
Without question, for better or worse, mothers touch us in every part and parcel of life.
Moms, this Mother’s Day we remember again who really rules the world — and we salute you!