The Man Blog

I Am My Mother’s Keeper

I Am My Mother's Keeper: Thelma GabrielMy mother’s life and death have taught me many things. In her waning years, I came to recognize my responsibility—that I am my mother’s keeper.

On Nov. 19, 2012, my family and the world lost a most affable and memorable servant of God, my mother, Thelma Gabriel. My mother was always willing to help others in any way, even when she wasn’t really able to. She was always trying to find humor to pick up those with a fallen countenance.

My loss

The loss of my mother was particularly hard on me because she had been in a full-service nursing facility near me for about the last four years, and she had been confined to a bed for the last 18 months. Because we lived close, I spent some concentrated quality time with her—more than any other family member during those last few years of her life.

I loved Mom deeply, and not a day goes by that the hurt doesn’t hit me like a sharp pain in the pit of my stomach. But each day God is massaging my pain with the knowledge of His plan of salvation and the reality that this world is full of anguish and grief.

At age 78, Mom was tired. Her easy, friendly nature was greatly hampered in the last year or more by her inability to talk or take food orally. She had battled a number of infections over the previous month. Although her doctors had given her a pretty good long-term game plan, she died in her sleep in the early morning hours of Nov. 19. It appears God had other plans for her.

Spending time

Thinking over my most recent years with my mother, I was struck by the fact that she had become much more than just my mom. She was my friend, my confidant and my sister in Christ.

She didn’t want money, new clothes or expensive gifts; she wanted time spent together more than anything else in the world. I was more than happy to spend the time I did with Mom, and I know God smiled on us, but it’s the least God expects of us.

Cain’s question came to mind. When confronted with the obvious murder of his brother, Cain retorted to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).

The obvious answer is yes, we are our brother’s, our sister’s, our father’s and our mother’s keeper. God wants us—He expects us—to do whatever we can to look out for others’ well-being in every way possible.

A Son’s special love for His mother

In John 19:26-27, Jesus, nearing the end of His human life, showed His great care for His mother when He bequeathed His earthly obligations to His mother to His disciple John. There was a special bond and a special love between Mary and her Son Jesus. Christ was very concerned about her welfare. He was His mother’s keeper.

In every aspect of life, Christ set an example that we should follow, and we men especially are to take note of our obligation to look after our mothers.

Pure and undefiled religion

God indeed obligates us to fulfill our Christian duty by spending quality time with not only our own families, but with the young, the helpless and the elderly (James 1:27). This is particularly true when they’re in need. God truly desires for us to want to bear the infirmities of the weak: “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).

There is so much emotional, physical and spiritual healing needed in our world today, and there will come an age soon when true joyous times will be realized.

Until then, there are many lessons in life and death that God wants us to learn as we prepare to become kings and priests in His Kingdom. One of the most vital lessons we can learn is to become responsible for those within our families and Church community. I indubitably learned that I was indeed my mother’s keeper!

I love you Mom—see you in the resurrection!

For more about honoring our mothers, see “Fifth Commandment: Honor Your Father and Mother.”

Peter M. Gabriel is a member of the Houston North congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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