A Model Mother
Genesis 6:5-10, 14-16, 18
RUMC May 8, 2016
There is the story of a four year old boy who accompanied his pregnant mother to the obstetrician’s office. While they sat in the waiting room, the mother heaved a sigh and clutched her stomach. Her son very much alarmed, said, “Mommy, what is it?” She answered “Your baby brother who is in my tummy is kicking. He is probably getting restless.” Then the four year old said, “Why don’t you swallow a toy?” Here is another story. A zealous little boy once pledged his devotion to his mother on Mother’s Day and began to brag of all the things he would do for her when he got older. He said, “Mom, when I grow up, I’m going to buy you an electric can opener, an electric toaster, an electric stove, and an electric chair.”
Today is Mother’s Day and for my sermon topic, I would like to look at a woman of faith whose love and support to her family and to the things of God distinguished her from others. We don’t know her name, but Jewish tradition identifies her as Naamah, which means “the beautiful or pleasant one.” So who was she? She was Noah’s wife. My text is selected verses from Genesis 6.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. 9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 14 Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
In this story, Noah is the main character, but his wife, Naamah was the unseen partner in the work. To get a glimpse of her character, it is important that we read between the lines. We can already see that Naamah was a mother, a farmer, a zookeeper, possibly a fellow ship builder and a woman of God.
In verses 5-7, Noah had been warned by God of the judgement that was to come, and the message he was to deliver was a difficult one. But it was his wife’s spiritual strength that helped him to endure, possibly years of hostility and ridicule by their neighbors.
I also believe that it was behind the scenes where Naamah did her best work. She was the one who gave comfort and support to Noah. And if she did not truly believe in what her husband was about to do, the construction of the ark would never have succeeded. In the end, it was her devotion and support that truly defined who she was.
There is a story of a woman named Rebekah who epitomizes this very thing. At the age of thirty two, she began chemotherapy for breast cancer. Although she gave the cancer a gallant fight for eighteen months, it had become obvious that the disease could not be conquered. When she realized that she would not be able to see her three young daughters grow up, she was determined to make audio tapes to be played on special occasions, i.e. their first day of school, their sixteenth birthday, their first date and their wedding.
Each recording was filled with motherly advice and encouragement. I have heard both pros and cons about people who have done this, but Rebekah felt she needed to do this for her children. And she was satisfied at how they turned out. When she sensed the end was near, Rebekah made her most important and final tape. With microphone close to her lips, she said, “Ruthie, Hannah and Molly, someday your daddy will bring home a new mommy. I want you to make her feel very special and know how proud you will make me feel if you are kind, patient and encouraging as she learns to take care of each of you. Please bring her dandelions to put in the special vase and most important, hug her often. Please don’t be sad for long. Jesus cried. He knows how sad you are and he knows you will be happy again. I love you so much, big hugs, your first mommy.” Rebekah died two days after she made that final tape. Four years later, her husband Warren met a woman, and fell in love. But before they were to be married, the three girls listened to that final tape, the tape that defined the depths of a mother’s love.
The building of Noah’s ark was a huge undertaking. It is my personal belief it would never have succeeded had it not been for the background support of Naamah.
I would say the same is true in our families. Marriage is an equal partnership. To have any success in any endeavor or project, both spouses need to be in agreement. The husband should be able to support the wife in all of her endeavors and the wife needs to do the same. If there are differences of opinion as there were with Noah and Naamah, couples need to talk, to work out differences: otherwise there will be an unhappy marriage.
There is a tradition that Naamah was called upon by God to gather the seeds of every type of plant and bring them safely into the ark. She discovered a fabulous array of growing things such as seeds, bulbs, cuttings, spores and roots. And she filled every available space with all kinds of plants, from amaryllis, soy beans and wheat to lilies, moss and even dandelions.
The Genesis story tells us that Noah, Naamah, their sons Shem, Ham, and Japeth and their wives all lived in the ark. I have a trivia question for you: How long do you think Noah and his family stayed on the ark? Let me give you a hint. It was not 40 days and 40 nights, that was how long it rained. So what is your answer? Almost a year.
If we were to read between the lines, living on the ark for that period of time must have tried their souls, but Naamah, the ever nurturer was the one who kept the eight members of her family in harmony with one another. And that is a tribute to her.
Let me share several inspirational quotes about mothers that are timeless.
- What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
- The impression that a praying mother leaves upon her children is life-long. D.L. Moody
- My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. ~ George Washington
- All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. ~ Abraham Lincoln
- The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.–Henry Ward Beecher
- God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.— Jewish proverb
- A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.–Irish Proverb
As I close, I want us to honor all of our ladies in our church. I would like to close with a list of “I owe you’s.
- I owe you for your time. Day and night.
- I owe you for your example. Consistent and dependable.
- I owe you for your support. Stimulating and challenging.
- I owe you for your humor. Sparky and quick.
- I owe you for your counsel. Wise and quiet.
- I owe you for your humility. Genuine and gracious.
- I owe you for your insight. Keen and honest.
- I owe you for your flexibility. Patient and joyful.
- I owe you for your hospitality. Smiling and warm.
- I owe you for your sacrifices. Numerous and quickly forgotten.
- I owe you for your faith. Solid and sure.
- I owe you for your hope. Ceaseless and indestructible.
- I owe you for your love. Devoted and deep.
Let us remember and all of our ladies who are with us and those who have passed.