No one can begin to tell the countless struggles, out of which come the sweetest victories of motherhood. A bit of a story of the inner side came to us one day. It was told by a gentle-faced woman, whose eyes looked out at us like balls of subdued, kindly fire from under a softening drapery of iron-grey, and whose wrinkled face seemed to tell of battles fierce and long; and yet there was a great peace passing our understanding that told of victories greater than the fightings.
It was of a young mother who had knelt to pray. It was late at night, near the midnight hour. Her husband was miles away with the army, at the front. The babies were snugged carefully in and sleeping soundly. The quiet of the night seemed so peaceful after the busy day, so full of numberless little important duties.
She had been sitting by the lamplight, with an old Bible lying open, and some papers and pen. She had been putting down in simple black and white her covenant to rear these children for God. Life was a hard tug with her,—hard steady pulling, long hours, and a very firm jaw needed to stretch the slender funds out over clothing and food and rent and all else.
Now she was silently kneeling with closed eyes. And as she prayed there came a sense of a strange presence, an ugly unwholesome dark presence, intangible but very real. It shook her quite a bit, as she wondered. Then that presence seemed to be daring her, defying her, and to her ears there seemed to come a very real audible growl between shut teeth—u-u-uh-u-u-gh-gh.
But she quietly prayed on, and still prayed on, and repeated her covenant. And that strange ominous something left her. And another presence seemed nearer, and into her ears was spoken so clearly and tenderly the words, "In due season ye shall "reap if ye faint not." And with that for a pillow, she lay down and found sweet sleep, and wakened in the early morning to the same tireless round.
Many years came and went. While that strange experience was never repeated, many a time the sharpness of the struggle brought it vividly back to her. But she remained true to her purpose, and plodded on, holding hard to that night's message.
And those babies? One is with her mother in the Master's presence after a short life fragrant for Jesus in her circle of friends. One has been singing the gospel to many hundreds; two others are telling the story of Jesus weekly to crowds of eager listeners. God's "due season" brought a rich "reap" to the unfainting sower.
And as we listened with a touch of awe we seemed to know that this was a bit of the inside struggle that belongs to the rule rather than the exception. Love, struggle, sacrifice, victory, great peace—these are the ever-recurrent notes in the sweet symphony of motherhood.
Sacrifice is the a and the z, and all the vowels and consonants in between of motherhood. But it is a sacrifice that spells love out bigger and brighter, and in the spelling rings the music of it sweeter and clearer than any other. Sacrifice is love at its best. There is no other spirit for motherhood; no other key to unlock its doors; no other solution of its tangling problems; no other sure weapon to lay its foes low in the dust. And no other inspiration is equal to it for holding you steady and true, true and steady in the fierce undertow of the tide of life. Aye, and no chambered symphony can equal its low, sweet music; and nothing else can bring the rich, heart - satisfying results in the twilight of life's evening.