It was toward the end of my mother's days on this earth. Diagnosed with congenital heart failure, with stays in and out of the hospital, she knew her days were numbered.
One evening, in one of our late night telephone conversations, I quietly confessed to her that when I died and got to heaven, the first question that I intended to ask God was why I didn't have any children. How could he have made a woman so loving and caring, whose arms ached to hold a child of her own, and yet decide that she was to not have one?
So now, in a whispered confession to my dying mother, I shared my question. "Why me, Lord? Why did I never have a child?"
I waited in the stillness and the quiet of the night, death hovering around us, for her response, expecting that this confession would somehow bring us closer as we prepared for her own transition.
After a long pause, my mother asked - without comment -- "And what would be the second question?"
The second question? The second question! Why, I had never given that any thought. Only the first question.
My friends, are there second questions in our lives that go unasked and therefore unanswered? Do we spend our lives in such pursuit for the answer to the first question, that all other possibilities become overshadowed?
My mother, who knew she would not be with us by year-end, wanted to know what my second question would be. Was it because she knew the answer to the first one? Was she looking at me - one of three daughters - and was reminded that she had found motherhood not all that it's cracked up to be?
Or was it that -- as she prepared to make her own transition -- she found my question insignificant and irrelevant?
Or was it that she knew that the answer would be revealed to me in time?
When I sheepishly responded that I had not thought about the second question, she replied, "Where is your faith of a mustard seed?"
Ah, yes. The mustard seed. How could I have forgotten?
When I was going off to graduate school, our family did not have a lot of money, but my mother wanted to give me something...some expression of love, hope, and faith. She gave me a gold-plated chain on which hung a small glass bulb containing a mustard seed.
"Honey," she said. "I don't have much to give you, but I want you to have this. Remember, so long as you have the faith of a single grain of mustard seed, all things are possible, if you only believe."
For the three years that I was completing graduate studies, I never took off that necklace. There were days and nights that I rubbed on that glass bulb, crying out in the darkness of the night, for the faith of a single grain of mustard seed. Today, from time to time, I still find myself reaching for my mustard seed when in a crisis in faith.
In my mother's wisdom, she knew that for any question I might ask, there is only one answer. And that answer is God. She demonstrated in the way she lived her life that you must trust in God. You must have a little faith, the faith of a single grain of mustard seed. Faith that He will make a way out of no way. Faith that He will make the crooked straight, right the wrong, move the mountains, and part the sea. Her legacy was to remind me that although I might fall down, I must get back up again. Do not give up. Have the faith of a single grain of mustard seed. Have a little faith.