This post is the last installment of my reflections upon the godliness of my late mother, Johanna Beeke (d. July 23, 2012).
4. Contentment. When I was about 12 years old, I had a friend who mentioned that he didn’t want to ask his mother for a favor at the moment because she wasn’t in “a good mood.” That comment puzzled me greatly. I honestly didn’t know what the word “mood” meant; I had never seen my mother moody or frustrated.
Mother always seemed cheerful and content—in fact, so content that at times it frustrated me. If something bad happened to me, and I would come to her for pity, she would often respond by saying, “It could be worse.” One day this was too much for me: “But Mother,” I said with great irritation, “you can say that about everything.” “That’s right,” she calmly replied, without a hint of irritation, “it always could be worse because God never gives us things as bad as we deserve.” “But Mother…” I protested. Calmly she interrupted me, quoting Paul: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” That text stopped the pity party in a moment.
Mother’s contentment was also evident in her thankfulness. She was one of the most thankful people I have ever known. She would thank you for everything you did for her, even the smallest thing. Thanksgiving filled her heart, and spilled over into her life with ease. She could thank as easily as she could say, “I’m sorry”—even when she had nothing to be sorry about!
5. Purity—that is, in terms of devoutness and godliness. Mother, by Christ’s grace, developed not only holy habits, but even natural habits that revealed a simple, almost naïve, purity. She was disciplined not only in her Bible-reading, but also in her eating habits (to a fault!), disciplined in her daily walks, disciplined in her daily routines of exercise. She was still exercising her arms and legs only a few months before her death. Everything about her life seemed so organized, so simple, so pure, so clean, so sweet, that it seemed like the aroma of Christ exuded from her.
Actually, there may be no better way to describe Mother than to cite the list in Galatians 5:22–23 of the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Each of these fruits was abundant in her life.
I thank God that by His grace, He gave me a mother whose life displayed the fruit of the Spirit.
The legacy, the heritage, the mantle is now passed on to us. We now become the older generation. Time waits for no one; no mere human being is the master of time. Sooner than we know, someone will be conducting our funerals. May we, by God’s grace, be found worthy of such a legacy, and faithful in receiving such a mantle. Mother left her mark on our lives, all of us, and the best monument we can raise to her memory is to follow her as she followed Christ, and extend her influence to many other lives, and to the generations to come.