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Listen while you read: "When Mothers Of Salem"1 (Lyrics)

Hebrews 11:17a – By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. (NIV)

When I was young, I had determined to be the perfect mother, but that was before encountering the unfamiliar subway system in Toronto, Canada, with my two children, aged three and four.

It was Monday. The day before, I'd heard a study of the Old Testament story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. The story is so important to Jews that it has a special name, the Akedah (binding). As we waited for the subway train, I was thinking about an old hymn with a verse that begins "With mercy and with judgment, my web of time He wove." Unlike Abraham, I was neither listening closely to God, nor letting Him weave any of my time. However, stuck in my head was an image of God making a tapestry of each of our days. The subway train came and we got on. The car was crowded, but I found a seat for my three-year-old son and then turned to help my daughter.

When I looked back, however, my son was gone! A very large woman sat in his place. I called his name frantically until I heard him squeak, "Help, Mommy!" A little hand was sticking out from beneath her.

"Get off that child!" I said.

"There's plenty of room for both of us." She shook her head, not budging.

"Off!" I pushed sideways, managing to move enough of her to free him.

"Well, I never!" she said huffily. Then, the train stopped, and she got off.

But on our return trip, he went missing again, darting back out the door. His quick-witted four-year-old sister rushed after him, but then, the door closed, and the train moved on, leaving them alone in a crowd of strangers on the platform.

New to subways, I didn't know how to get help. All I could do was pray myself to the next stop while unexpectedly rethinking the story of Abraham and Isaac. Both of my children were suddenly gone. Had I ever really entrusted them to God? What about my determination to be a perfect mother? Had I asked God for help with that?

At the next stop, I ran across to another train going back to the previous station, where I looked until I found the two of them, my daughter's small hands holding her brother safe, their backs pressed firmly against the subway wall. For the first time, I saw them as my "Isaacs", dearer to me than all the world, and yet suddenly, I was willing to leave them in God's hands, and trust and obey. I told God, "I can't handle it. You take over!"

Making Abraham's choice to obey is vital to our spiritual life. Our Isaacs are our ambitions, dream houses, and plans for the future that we hug to ourselves, leaving out God's plan. Are we willing to trust our future to God and ask His direction for our lives and work?

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, You hold the key of all unknown, and we are glad. We'd rather You unlocked the day, and, as the hours swing open, say, "Your will is best." We cannot read Your future plans, but this we know: we have the smiling of Your face and all the refuge of Your grace while here below. Enough; this covers all our wants; and so we rest; for what we cannot, You can see, and in Your care we saved shall be, forever blessed. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. (Adapted from Joseph Parker, 1830-1902.)

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About the author:

Rose DeShaw <>
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for a wonderful devotion.

    Thanks again for sharing one of your life experiences. Blessings and Happy Mother’s day.

    Great story and application, Rose. I’m sure this was a frightening experience. Happy Mother’s Day.

    That must have been so frightening but an example for us all to trust in God. Happy Mother’s Day, Rose!

    What a wonderful story! Made me laugh at the thought of the poor little guy being sat on, and the picture of the two children determinedly waiting for their mother to return. Helped me to let go and let God.

    Oh Rose! My heart stopped with yours! What an incredible experience! One you would never wish, but what it wrought in you as in Abraham! We go through these things and by His love and grace, we learn. Blessings!

    Oh, Rose – you find yourself in quite the predicaments as you go about daily life. How grateful I am that you see God’s hand always present and share the lessons with us.
    May your meditations today rejoice over loving care.

    Hi Rose,
    Thanks for sharing your personal anecdote. There are so many times when we should say to God, “I can’t handle it. You take over!” Thanks for reminding us. Happy Mother’s Day!!

    Hello Rose,
    Thank you for another of your special devotionals. I can just feel the anxiousness you must have endured with that separation from your children and the relief in being rejoined with them. Yes, our Lord has things happen in our lives, but He is there to help us through at all times and in the end His plans are the right ones. Blessings for your writing contributions.

    Dear Rose,
    How apt that you are writing this today, Mother’s Day, to remind us that God is in charge when we advertently find ourselves in a pickle. Taking the metro in a city like Toronto with active toddlers is very courageous indeed. Your little girl was very smart for her age and as she held her brother, God was holding her.
    Another incredible experience that you have shared, thank you.

    Dear Rose,
    I want to thank you for another inspiring, beautifully written Devotional! It brought back memories of our daughter, then two years old, disappearing at Major’s Hill Park into a huge crowd behind the Parliament buildings on Canada Day. I cried out to the Lord as we searched frantically for her. Fairly soon, although it felt like eternity, an angry woman brought her to me with a scolding for my incompetence as a mother! I had let go of her hand just for a moment to pick something up! Nevertheless, I was so grateful to our Lord and the angry woman!
    Happy Mother’s Day and thanks again!

    Once again, God used your devotional to jog my memory. My subway experience occurred as a child. My mother was heavy with child moving way too slowly to suit my six-year-old self. I darted ahead into the subway car only to have the doors slide shut separating me from my mother! I started crying saying my mother was outside the car. Indeed, she was pounding on the door glass, but the conductor never realized the dilemma until after the train began to move. I too excited at the next stop standing in the open, as instructed by the conductor, until the next train stopped and my mother waddled out. She hugged me so tight then swatted my bottom. I never ran ahead of her again! God had protected me the whole time. Thanks for sharing your memory.

    Good morning and Happy Mother’s Day dear Rose.
    Your message had me riveted to my seat. I had a similar experience with my children in Montreal years ago. Crowded subway, getting on with my daughter and son (who is mildly intellectually challenged). He was about three at the time. I don’t know if the crowd of people overwhelmed him, but he turned and got off. Just as the doors started to close, I noticed him and yanked him by the arm, just about pulling his arm out of the socket. I was beyond shaken. I couldn’t imagine a boy of that age alone in a subway station. I had just started back to Church at the time, so my faith was in its infancy stages. I certainly did thank God that I caught him as the door was closing.
    Dear Rose, enjoy your day, Mother’s Day.

    Rose, l’m surprised you didn’t die from heart failure when this happened! There are so many things in this life that happen beyond our control, that can leave us fearful and afraid, anxious, and depressed. And it is only as we let go and trust God amidst them, do we have the strength and peace to move forward with confidence.
    Last week, I lost my little dog. Within minutes of him going outside he disappeared. I think he was attacked by a hawk or a raven that swooped down and struck him, but l really don’t know. His sister cried all day… as did l. And this week all the dogs have been very subdued. And l have struggled daily with my questions as well as with my fears, now for his sister. The verse that has kept coming to my head is, trust in the Lord with all your heart… so l keep reminding myself, that though l don’t know why this happened, God does, and l just have to keep trusting Him and His plan for me and my dog. He has blessed me with these beautiful, loving creatures. But they are only mine for a time and can be called back to his hand, at any time. Letting go is hard though.
    Thanks for a good word today. And l am very glad your kids were safe and sound.

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