Bunhill Cemetery in London may have the highest monument to a mother anywhere in the world. There, at the grave of Susannah Wesley, stands a monument fourteen feet tall
honoring this mother of faith who was known for her ability to stay calm and cheerful in difficult circumstances.
“Give others the sunshine and give Jesus the rest,” Susannah repeated frequently and her simple secret of contentment through faith so impacted her sons, John and Charles, that they became the prime movers in England’s greatest spiritual awakening. Millions still sing the songs that John and Charles wrote, not knowing that these musical expressions of faith, hope and love came from the influence of a mother who had a singing heart, even during tough times.
Susannah didn’t have an easy life. She gave birth to nineteen children, nine of whom died in infancy and her husband, Samuel, was more interested in writing poetry than dealing with pressing issues facing his family.
In spite of her many pressures and responsibilities, however, this now famous mother found she could recharge her spiritual batteries by having a guarded time each day to read her Bible and pray, setting an example for mothers everywhere.
It’s not likely that Susannah would have approved the costly fourteen foot tall monument to her memory. She was a no-nonsense woman who was more interested in living legacies than those made of stone. Faithful children are the most important monuments to a mother’s faith. Stones crumble and fall but faith transferred from one generation to the next endures forever.
Robert Moffat, a later world known missionary, said his mother had asked him to promise her that he would begin and close each day with God. When he agreed to do so, his mother sent him off to serve God on foreign mission fields with her prayers and a kiss. Moffat said that kiss made him a missionary and his great work remains as a monument to his faithful mother.
Thomas Edison wrote, “I didn’t have my mother long, but she cast over me an influence that has lasted all my life. The great effects of her early training, I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never have become an inventor. My mother was the making of me.
When I stood before the board of the country church we attended to be examined for membership, the oldest deacon said, “I want you to remember that your mother brought you to Sunday School when the weather was too bad for men to get here.”
One of the most familiar hymns, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” was written by Joseph Scriven to help his mother through a period of anxiety. Joseph had endured many trials, including the accidental drowning of his beautiful bride-to-be. Was he now comforting his mother by saying that his faith was a monument to the value of her example during his time of great loss? Probably.
We’re all building monuments to our mothers every day. The way we live determines how tall they will be.
Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org