Faith in the Unlovely
It’s easy to rejoice in God’s holiness with beautiful
sunsets, a flower’s first bloom, and waves breaking on surf. But
who sees holiness in weeds, deserted, dry lands, and wayward
children? Three mothers can tell us they longed for the first
scenario, but lived the second.
The first is Mary Lee Bright, the mother of Bill Bright
who started Campus Crusade for Christ. At first, however, he
wanted nothing to do with Christ. He had other plans. But Pearl
Harbor changed his thinking. He wanted to serve, but due to a
perforated eardrum was rejected. And he left home. Mary Lee, a
devote Christian, packed a Bible into his belongings at the last
minute. Her years of tears, prayers, and trust in God, went with
Through God’s miraculous intervention Bill started
attending church. The Lord had plans for him: not evil, but a
future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). One night he picked up the Bible
his mother had packed and began reading. After several months he
gave his life to Christ. And Mary Lee saw the beautiful sunset.
The second mother, Moreno Valdes, story is harder. After
coming to the U.S. in 1966 from Cuba, her son, Jorge, learned the
power of money, and turned from his family’s values and faith to
join the Medellin Drug Cartel. Though a leader in the States, he
never killed anyone, but indirectly destroyed lives through the
drugs he sold. But his mother never gave up on him and prayed
relentlessly: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man
[mom] avails much” (James 5:16, NKJV). One day, he met Christ and
said, “Yes.” While in prison he earned a bachelor and master’s
degree, a PhD. In New Testament Studies, and founded Coming Clean
Ministries helping young people on destructive paths. Moreno saw
the bright flower bloom!
We have no name for the last mother. She was an assistant
pastor’s wife with a contrary daughter. Not bad, but didn’t want
anything to do with the church, God or Jesus. Her parents didn’t
make her attend services: they went. Her mother didn’t lecture:
she prayed. But there were times the daughter overheard those
simple, protective prayers for her dad as he went out nights on a
call, or traveled: “ . . . “praying always with all prayer and
supplication in the Spirit . . .” (Ephesians 6:18). Before college
the daughter told her mother, “Mom, I know I’m going to be okay.
Because I know you’ll be praying those same protective prayers for
me as you prayed for dad.” And the waves of joy broke over her
Mothers and Grandmothers we are encouraged by these women.
They weren’t famous or worldly important. Their mundane days of
praying, crying, trusting never ceased. They accepted their
obscurity, saw the holiness of God in the unlovely, and believed
His words: . . . “with true faith, nothing is impossible for you”
(Matthew 17:20). They never lost hope.