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 him.
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 mother.
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.