We love a good origin story. They capture our attention as they carry us along with the contextual fall and rise of our heroes.
Writers employ a captivating origin story all the time. Before he was Batman, Bruce Wayne watched as his parents were murdered, leaving him orphaned as a young age. Before he was Spider-Man, Peter Parker was already an orphan, was a social misfit, and then tragically lost his Uncle Ben.
Even in the Scriptures, some of our heroes have their own dramatic origin stories. Before he was the leader of God's people, Moses was a wanted man in Egypt and was exiled to the wilderness for forty years. Before he was king, David was killing lions, bears, and giants as a shepherd and then lived on the run for years due to being hunted by King Saul.
Most of us don't have these stories of knee-buckling setbacks we have had to overcome from an early age. We live seemingly normal lives, with normal rises, normal falls, and normal rhythms.
As parents, and especially for mothers with young children, there can be an overwhelming sense of the ordinary. Life doesn't always feel spectacular within the humdrum activity of daily life. The adventures that seem "out there" glare in contrast to the normalcy of daily living.
But faithful mothering is one of the greatest and gripping origin stories children can receive. And here's an origin story from the Scriptures that I hope captures your imagination.
The Young Protégé
We know Timothy as the young pastor of the church in Ephesus. He was the apostle Paul's friend, disciple, and he was an instrumental force in the leadership and life of the early church.
We meet Timothy for the first time in Acts 16. Paul and Silas, a dynamic missionary duo, pick him up as they moved through Derbe and Lystra. From that point, Timothy remained a close companion and friend to Paul for the rest of his life.
But before there was Paul and Silas in Timothy's life, there was another faithful force from another dynamic duo who were heavily involved in his upbringing.
Timothy's Origin Story
Meet Lois and Eunice, Timothy's grandmother and mother, respectively. These two women had a sincere faith (2 Timothy 1:5), and through that faithful influence acquainted Timothy with Scripture from an early age (2 Timothy 3:15).
Timothy was with his mother in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas picked him up. And Timothy was already well-spoken of by the brothers in his local community (Acts 16:2). He was already a God-fearing, respectable, and reputable young man by the time Paul and Silas entered the picture.
We know Timothy's father was a Greek (Acts 16:1). The marriage of a Greek father and Jewish mother could have culminated in a confusing spiritual home atmosphere for Timothy. But God used the faithful influence of Timothy's mother and grandmother to introduce Timothy to the truths of Law and Prophets, and then ultimately to the truth found in Jesus, God's chosen Messiah.
When Paul writes his second letter to Timothy, his young disciple needed encouragement. So where does Paul begin his rallying cry from?
The swashbuckling adventures of "out there" missionary life?
Answer: Paul reminds Timothy of the "in here" home experiences of a home life he had with his faithful mother and grandmother.
Paul points his protégé back to his origin story, his mother's and grandmother's faithful example, to encourage Timothy to keep going (2 Timothy 1:5). He tells Timothy to remember that sincere faith that began generations before him in his mother and grandmother. He reminds Timothy that the torch has now been passed to him, and that he should fan that into a fearless flame (2 Timothy 1:7).
The Rippling Effect of Everyday Faithfulness
When we read these Spirit-inspired words from Paul in 2 Timothy 1:5-7, we feel the tug of encouragement they offer. We know our own fears, distresses, and anxieties, and we need the exhortation to remember our own spiritual origin stories.
Thousands of years later, we still admire the impact Lois' and Eunice's faithful example had on Timothy. But they couldn't have imagined the impact their faithful work would have on Timothy, the apostle Paul, or the generations of Christians that have lived for thousands of years after they passed.
You see, while Eunice was holding a tiny Timothy in her arms, they were in an obscure town in a seemingly unnoticed spot in history. They lived ordinary and regular lives, in the own rhythms of their local communities. Timothy didn't arrive with a grand promise of what he would be like Isaac, Samuel, Samson or John the Baptist did. It was likely a very humble, normal, and seemingly unglamorous upbringing.
We have the benefit of seeing and feeling the impact of Eunice's & Lois' faithfulness, while they didn't at the time.
Faithful mothering is glorious soul-shaping work, with unknown, generational rippling effects.