As a branch President many years ago my attention was drawn to a family who were baptized comprising of a father mother and two children. Both husband and wife became enthusiastic about their new found religion. Together with Relief Society and elders quorum we embraced and integrated this family into church activities.
Soon after ordination to Aaronic Priesthood, the husband was given a calling as assistant librarian and the wife was called as a teacher in the primary (nursery class). They lived a simple life barely managing to provide the basic needs for the family but seemed happy all the time. Over a period of time I noticed that the husband started to miss the church Sunday meetings. This was a little disappointing since the elders quorum president was preparing him to be ordained an elder.
During this time I also noticed that the wife was struggling to come to church with her young children, sometimes arriving late for the sacrament meeting. After two visits to their home together with members of the elders quorum, I noticed that the husband was not keen on coming back to church. I became concerned. On our third visit, I learned that the husband was struggling to overcome an addiction in his old life style before baptism.
The Lord’s blessings come to those who keep His commandments
One Sunday after the sacrament meeting I was prompted to call the wife for a brief interview. As we talked I realized her conviction to the gospel and that she was determined to raise her young family in the church despite the challenges they were facing as a family.
She said to me, “President I have observed the general life pattern of young people in the place we live and noticed that as soon as they become teenagers they drop out of high school and engage in the vice and other acts lawlessness. I have realized that there is not much I can do to change our living condition, the only hope I have is in the Church. I will try to help my children learn the gospel values while they are young and remain committed to live the principles of the gospel as they grow even with little or no support from my husband.”
In response to her sentiments I gave her an assurance that the Lord is ready to bless those who seek after Him if they repent of their sins and follow His teachings. I decided to change the brief interview into teaching moment and shared the scriptures on topics that would strengthen her faith.
Quoting from Isaiah about the law of the fast, as enjoined with the Sabbath, “Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday. And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” (Isaiah 58:7-11)
The lord’s blessings will come to those who keep his commandments. Attending sacrament meeting alone without engaging ourselves in living the gospel in its entirety cannot bring a reward to those who have been received into his church through baptism. I emphasized to her that even as she may have good desires for her children, she had to be first converted to the gospel, and then the children will follow her examples and be ready to live the commandments. Her desires would be achieved through a period of time. If she endures the challenges of times with faith and diligence, she would realize the effects of the gospel on her life and that of her children
The Lord shall give to those who are willing to learn. “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Isaiah 28-9-10)
The good influence of a faithful mother and unique God given gift of nurturing can mold the characters of young children in the home. If joined by fathers in this great effort, the results can be tremendous. The children will have no doubt or fear as they face the future. Both parents become primary models to their children as they grow in love and unity in the gospel.
Mothers’ influence on their sons
The Book of Mormon attests to this fact in the story of the young men of Ammon who were taught well in the home by their mothers and blessed by many provisions from their fathers. They had no fear of death. They valued the liberty of their people more highly than their own lives, because they had learned to get rid of doubt and have faith in God. The unwavering testimonies of their mothers burned deeply into their hearts and gave them victory.
“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” (Alma 56:47)
In his book Stand a Little Taller, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “Mothers and Fathers, do the best you can, and remember that the greatest responsibilities you have in this world are those children whom you have brought into the world and for whose nurture and care you are responsible.”
In the Old Testament we read of a faithful woman called Hannah who was the wife of Elkanah. She lived many years without having a child, because the Lord shut up her womb. Despite the love her husband gave to her she was sore in her heart because she did not bear a child. Each year she accompanied her husband to the temple to offer sacrifices unto the Lord.
While at the Temple in one of their visits Hannah was noticed by the Priest (Eli) as she prayed unto God for a child. “Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou has asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1:17) Soon afterwards the Lord remembered Hannah and she conceived and “bare a son and called his name Samuel saying because I have asked of him of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1: 20)
“And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her and three bullocks, and one ephah of flour and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh and the child was young…
“And she said , O my Lord, as thy soul liveth, my Lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; and as long as he liveth, he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.” (1 Samuel 1:24; 26-28)
Because of his mother’s faith, prayer and vow she made to the Lord, Samuel grew on and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with men and was latter recognized as a prophet by Israel.
A faithful mother’s influence today
As I monitored the life and progress of this family in the Church, her commitment and endurance bore fruits when her first son was called to serve a full time mission. Soon thereafter I had the privilege as a stake president to set apart her second son who was called on a mission too. Both, having served honorable missions, are now men of integrity and married with families. They have met the desires of their faithful mother.
This I know to be true and that God blesses those come unto him with humility and are willing to live his gospel in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ AMEN.