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Packing for Ephesus

May 10, 2011

When I think of the mothers in Scripture who deeply inspire me, two women immediately come to mind. We don’t know much about the personal lives of these women other than their names and one extremely valuable aspect of their legacy – mother Eunice and grandmother Lois poured their lives and their faith into a boy named Timothy.

The Bible tells us that Timothy was half-Jew, half-Greek. We are told that Paul circumcised Timothy before taking him on his journeys with him (Acts 16:3). Reading between the lines, this tells us that Timothy was completely on the outside of Jewish life and culture. He would not have been allowed to receive training in the Torah from the Rabbi, and he would have been restricted from even participating in temple worship.

2 Timothy 1:5 tells us that his mother and grandmother had “sincere faith” which Paul was persuaded lived in Timothy also. 2 Timothy 3:15 tells us that Timothy had known the holy Scriptures “from infancy.” Lois and Eunice had poured their lives into him. They had taught him the truth from infancy and prepared him to the extent that the other believers spoke well of him and Paul called him to follow him on his journeys.

Paul sets out with young Timothy. They walk thousands of miles together. Eventually, they spend three years in Ephesus.

Ephesus would probably blow our minds. Ephesus offered asylum to any criminal. It was the slave capital of the world. There was not a single believer in Jesus Christ when Paul arrived on the scene. The worship of Diana (or Artemis) was so central to life in Ephesus that we are told in Acts 20 that eventually as more people placed their faith in Jesus Christ and abandoned idolatry, it was upsetting the local economy and actually caused a riot! Into this pagan and corrupt culture Paul walks, with his teenage disciple Timothy. Every mom’s dream for her boy, right?

Eventually Paul leaves for further missionary journeys, and he appoints young Timothy to pastor the Ephesian church. Alone. In Ephesus. Get this: Scholars say that in less than 100 years, Ephesus was 90% Christian. Partly because of a gangly teenager, an outcast from his culture, who was taught God’s Word from infancy, discipled well in adolescence, and equipped and sent to serve.

The impact of Lois and Eunice challenges me in two distinct ways.

  1. These women taught Timothy the Word of God themselves. They didn’t sit around feeling sorry for themselves that Timothy’s father or the temple leaders were not as involved as they would have liked. They knew the Scriptures themselves, and they taught him well – from infancy. At this stage of my children’s lives I have a tremendous number of hours each week with them – what am I doing with those minutes?
  2. As I consider the world my children will grow up in and the corrupt culture that presses in around them, my mama heart wants to build a big strong wall around them and insulate them from it all. The thought of watching my adolescent son leave my town with the Apostle Paul (you know, the one who was always getting stoned or shipwrecked or beaten!) and head out toward Ephesus (of all places!) blows my mind. Lois and Eunice’s testimony challenges me that not only must I teach my children God’s Word, and teach them well, I need to remember that the goal is not to insulate them from the corrupt culture around them – but to prepare them to impact their world.

Moms, what we do each day can feel small and unimportant. But in the midst of diapers and homework and dirty socks and soccer practice, Lois and Eunice remind us – our job is not just to bring them through this day. Our job is to disciple our kids – to teach them God’s Word, to train them to obey, to walk with them into ministry, and equip them to turn their world upside down for Jesus Christ.

That’s the legacy I long to have.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2011 7:57 am

    I love this example of mothering, and you’ve painted such a clear picture of our potential as moms and women. What a great truth that Lois and Eunice didn’t waste time complaining or whining about the absence of manly spiritual leadership for Timothy, but they embraced their opportunities. Such a great challenge for us today, as our kids engage their Ephesus!

  2. May 10, 2011 3:40 pm

    Thank you, Kristi, for sharing this with us. Lois and Eunice are wonderful examples for all of us … and especially for the many women I know who parenting alone. Such hope … and such encouragement.

  3. May 10, 2011 9:10 pm

    HUGE Amen on this post! If only we could know more about these women – truly amazing and filled with hope for mothers who long for their husbands to lead!


  4. May 10, 2011 11:30 pm

    This is a really powerful post, Kristi. And it convicts and encourages me to trust, rely, and act. We just discussed at fellowship today how to impress the Word on our (and our children’s) hearts (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Psalm 119:11), especially through intentionally memorizing Scripture to better serve.

    And, your second point really impacts me. With my son as young as he is and being our first, I’m still very much struggling with finding balance between keeping him from all harm and preparing him to live in the world, but not of the world. I pray that we can give him a solid foundation of faith and that he will develop a personal relationship with God to guide him through all of his days.

  5. May 11, 2011 3:39 am

    What an excellent post to encourage us mums ….onwards and upwards! It can be so discouraging for some of us who feel that the dads are not around as much as we like. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, and wishing things were different – maybe envying other families where we see dad very involved – we must do our own duty. What blessings Louis had! Do we really want anything more for our sons than that they spend and are spent for the cause of Christ.

  6. May 11, 2011 8:04 am

    So important to remember our #1 goal as moms! Thanks for the reminder in the powerful true illustration from Scripture.

  7. May 11, 2011 5:13 pm

    Thank you for the great perspective! It seems we need the reminder over and over to be about God’s Mission and not the American dream.

    I’ve often thought about Ephesus (we take students on missions trips to that part of the world) and what an eye-opener it is that the same thing can happen in our country if we arnt living on mission.

  8. danelletownsend permalink
    May 13, 2011 11:47 am

    I love that you point out that these women (Timothy’s mom and grandmother) taught Timothy themselves, they didn’t wait for others or feel sorry for themselves that no one else was there to help. What an important message! A faithful mom does indeed partner with God to shape the future. The most important job we can do as mommas!
    Thank you for this post! I found you over at “Encouragement is Contagious”.
    Blessings and love to you.

  9. May 16, 2011 11:46 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! I appreciate the truth of this message so much! Blessings to you!

    Caroline loved this post so she linked it up at my blog (and I’m SO HAPPY she did!!!) Visiting from the the “Encouragement is Contagious” linky party at my blog, “Only A Breath”! I hope your week is a wonderful one!



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