Mama’s Ingredient

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“3/4 cup of Judges 5:25.”

The first time I read this was in 1969. Printed on a torn slip of notebook paper, my Sunday School teacher gave me this assignment as I joined my mom at the door. All the way home in our ’66 Impala, I chattered about the cooking party the following Saturday. Each student in our rural church would bring a coded ingredient.

“Miss Bobbie said the Bible verse would explain the mystery,” I repeated excitedly.

Crossing the kitchen, Mama smiled and pulled a tattered cookbook off the shelf. Opening a well-soiled page, she explained, “You’ll be making a Scripture cake.”

I peered onto her copy, and sure enough, there it was: “3/4 cup of Judges 5:25.”

The Word had never been so captivating as it was that afternoon. As Mother and I sat at the kitchen table, she helped me find some of the more obscure passages to understand the modern-day meaning of ingredients like curds and leavening. “I never knew the Bible was a cookbook,” I giggled.

Mama used this and many other everyday opportunities to whet my interest in God’s Word. Since she always started the day with His Word, Mama could seize small tidbits of truth, just right for spooning into my childish heart. Every night, she read a Psalm to me, and every day she found ways for me to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Dwight L. Moody says, “The impression that a praying mother leaves upon her children is life-long.” My interest in Mama’s stories and influence decreased with my increased independence in my teen years. But her prayers only multiplied. When I had no time for her, she spent the additional moments seeking the Father’s best on my behalf. Like the sticky-sweet ingredient in Psalm 19:10, Mama asked that I discover and ingest His Word until He “became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16).

Years later, I read of a Jewish tradition very similar to my childhood experience. At a very young age, boys studying the sacred scriptures would repeat after the rabbi: “‘Son of man, feed your stomach, and fill your body with the scroll I am giving you.’ Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth (Ezekiel 3:3).” Then the rabbi would dot each of their slates with a drop of honey so that they may truly taste and associate just what that meant.

I’m thankful for my Mama’s simple example and life-long impact on this Mother’s Day. May I continue to follow her model of mothering and teach my daughters to do so as well. As Billy Graham said, “Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.”