Dr. Thomas Lane Butts: Happy Mother's Day

In the next few days hundreds of thousands of cards, flower arrangements and gifts will be sent with this sentiment "Happy Mother's Day". Most of have been blessed by a mother for whom happiness is most profoundly influenced by the welfare of her children. Often a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.

How we received love from our mother during our first few years still colors our lives and always will. Conscious memories of how we were nurtured by our mothers may go back to the earliest days of our lives, and I dare say we have just as many unconscious memories. Some say those unconscious memories go back to a time before we were born. That is an interesting thought. When do you suppose your mother first began to love you? For most of you your mother was the first person to love you, and that love is unabated even by death, hers or yours.

We can never find adequate words to describe things that truly matter. Love truly matters. An old friend of ours who lived and taught 2000 years ago often told stories to describe those intangible things when words would not work. We call those stories parables. So, in the tradition of the Master Teacher, let me tell you a story.

A man died and went to hell. His family and friends formed a committee to enlist influential people to go to the iron gates of hell and plead for his release. His pastor was the first emissary to go. He stood at the iron gates and shouted to Satan, "Open the gates and let him out. He was a pretty good church member. He never missed an Easter or Christmas service. He always put a dollar in the offering plate when he was in church. He even attended Sunday School once. He was a good man. Open the gates and let him out!" The iron gates of hell did not move. Next they sent his golfing partner, who explained what a good golfer he had been. He cried to Satan, "Open the gates and let him out." The gates did not budge. Several other influential people went to hell to plead his case and ask Satan to let him out, but to no avail.

Frustrated, the man's mother charged down to hell, yelling "Open the gates and let my son out, or I'm coming in!" The iron gates opened.

Mother's Day is a good time to say "thank you" to the woman who would charge the gates of hell for you.