"And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, daughter of Levi, whom her mother bare to Levi in Egypt; and she bare unto Amram, Aaron, and Moses, and Miriam their sister."
Numbers 26: 59
King James Version
"Jochebed - A Mother's Character"
"Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones."
What are the qualities I believe make a strong character?
"Out of our beliefs are born deeds; out of our deeds we form habits; out of our habits grows our character; and on our character we build our destiny."
"She sets her mind on an estate and acquires it, she plants a vineyard by her own labors."
Proverbs 31: 16
Several weeks ago I read a short piece written by Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at the John's Hopkins Children's Center.
Dr. Carson's essay, entitled, "There Is No Job More Important Than Parenting," is an essay about the influence of his mother on his life.
I want to share some of his thoughts with you because they are applicable to our study for the next few days on the life of Jochebed, the "birth mother" of Moses.
Here are some of Dr. Carson's thoughts:
"My mother was a domestic. Through her work, she observed that successful people spent a lot more time reading than they did watching television. She announced that my brother and I could only watch two to three preselected TV programs during the week. With our free time, we had to read two books each from the Detroit Public Library and submit to her written book reports. She would mark them up with check marks and highlights. Years later we realized her marks were a ruse. My mother was illiterate; she had only received a third-grade education.
Although we had no money, between the covers of those books I could go anywhere, do anything, and be anybody.
When I entered high school I was an A-student, but not for long. I wanted the fancy clothes. I wanted to hang out with the guys. I went from being an A-student to a B-student to a C-student, but I didn't care. I was getting the high fives and the low fives and the pats on the back. I was cool.
One night my mother came home from working her multiple jobs, and I complained about not having enough Italian knit shirts. She said, "Okay, I'll give you all the money I make this week scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms, and you can buy the family food and pay the bills. With everything left over, you can have all the Italian knit shirts you want."
I was very pleased with that arrangement, but once I got through allocating money, there was nothing left. I realized my mother was a financial genius to be able to keep a roof over our heads and any kind of food on the table, much less buy clothes.
I also realized that immediate gratification wasn't going to get me anywhere. Success required intellectual preparation.
I went back to my studies and became an A-student again, and eventually I fulfilled my dream and I became a doctor.
Over the years my mother's steadfast faith in God has inspired me, particularly when I had to perform extremely difficult surgical procedures or when I found myself faced with my own medical scare.
A few years ago I discovered I had a very aggressive form of prostate cancer; I was told it might have spread to my spine. My mother was steadfast in her faith in God. She never worried. She said that God was not through with me yet; there was no way that this was going to be a major problem. The abnormality in my spine turned out to be benign; I was able to have surgery and am cured.
My story is really my mother's story – a woman with little formal education or worldly goods who used her position as a parent to change the lives of many people around the globe."
What an influence a mother can have. Mothers need to understand the ability they have to leave an impression for good or evil on the lives of their children, because helping to mold strong characters should be life's priority.
Helen Keller said "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved."
Without a doubt, Jochebed's life was no bed of roses. Born in Egypt as a daughter of Levi, she had known only the curse of slavery. And yet, this mother never lost hope and never gave up the dream that someday her children would have a better life.
But in order for this to happen, Jochebed, herself, needed to be a woman of distinct qualities of character. And for certain she was. Unafraid, daring and a woman of great ingenuity, we first meet her hiding her baby boy for three months – and she did this in the face of the Egyptian Pharaoh's edict that boys should be thrown into the Nile River and drowned.
This cruel and heartless act was not to be tolerated in Jochebed's family and so with great cleverness she kept her child hidden and then came up with an idea on how and where to hide her boy, not only to protect him, but to save him.
Jochebed's character was forged in a world of brutality, but in spite of this, she maintained a life filled with the strength and love of the God of Israel. It was the Heavenly traits of character that were imbedded in Jochebed that she then impressed into the lives of her children.
She could have whined and complained about the difficulty of life's circumstances but she did not. For Jochebed never allowed herself to succumb to the hopelessness of Egypt's life. A woman of character who implanted the seeds of hope in the hearts of her children.
"Be the soul support of your children."
"I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day.
And as my fingers pressed it still,
It moved and yielded to my will.
I came again when days were past.
That bit of clay was hard at last.
The form I gave it, still it bore,
And I could change it never more.
I took a piece of human clay
And gently formed it day by day.
I molded with my power and art
A young child's soft and yielding heart.
I came again when years were gone.
It was a man I looked upon
He still that early impress bore,
And I could change it never more."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus