By Contributing Writer, Bambi Moore
The inscription on the Monument to the Pilgrim Mothers in Plymouth, Massachusetts reads:
They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God without which nations perish.
Years later, British general Lord Cornwallis said:
We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women.
Finally, French journalist Alexis de Tocqueville concluded his great work Democracy in America:
If I were asked, now that I am drawing to the close of this work, in which I have spoken of so many important things done by the Americans, to what the singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply: To the superiority of their women.
Why is there a chasm separating our Pilgrim foremothers and 21st century women, myself included? If Tocqueville were around today, would he attribute America’s now weak state to the women as well? Is it merely that the years bring changes in clothing, hair-dos and modern conveniences? Surely it’s more than that which separates us from these hard-working, tough, reverent and faithful women. It’s what lies in our hearts.
Our text-messaging, dinner is in the bag, God-is-my-cosmic-genie generation has come so far in less than 400 years. These women served the God of the universe: sovereign and just, all-sufficient, even in death, as well as the source and passion of their existence. They were also wives who followed wherever their husbands led and mothers who sacrificed all for the sake of the next generation.
An Acceptance of Hardship and Trials
How many of us would travel across an ocean in a cramped, disease infested vessel, in desperate conditions, in order to begin again in a location that might prove even more hazardous? The tests of obedience the Lord gave them strengthened them.
Today we avoid any hardships we can. Could it be that we are weak because we fail to let the Refiner refine us? Too busy trying to find a quick escape from our trial? I don’t know about you, but when the Lord sends a trial into my life, my first reaction is to rid myself of it. Somehow, someway! And quick! I must instead recognize God’s hand of providence and learn what He wants to teach me–many times a greater trust and dependency on Him.
Creatures of Comfort
At all costs, we make ourselves comfortable. In 1620, difficulties were a way of life, and the pilgrims looked forward to Heaven when their toiling would be over. Today we are not so Heavenly minded. We love the world and the comforts it offers us.
Many of us live for today. We live to be self-fulfilled, not sacrifice for someone else. However, the women of 1620 were going to the New World knowing that they themselves might never benefit from it. In William Bradford’s history of the Plymouth Settlement he writes:
…they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations…for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.
Mothers Who Went the Extra (lots of extra) Miles
Our pilgrim mothers were willing to sacrifice–unto death–for the sake of their children. After living in Holland for eleven years there were many causes for their decision to go to the New World, not the least of which was the rescue of their children. Most history books do not include the fact that the small group of Separatists left Holland because they were losing their children to the corrupt ways of the Dutch:
But still more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses…leaving their parents. So they saw their posterity would be in danger to degenerate and become corrupt. –William Bradford
How many of us would go to this extreme to remove our children from evil influence? Today our “Holland” would be the television, Internet, foolish companions, as well as the humanistic and evolutionary indoctrination of our government’s schools.
Just Passing Through
Finally, these women were “other worldly”. Most of us live for the moment, concerned with what’s before our eyes, clinging tightly to the possessions we own, the children we have, the futures we think we control. We begin to hold God’s gifts as idols in our hearts, forgetting the One from whose hand they were given.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth Col. 3:2
I want to strive to live as the Pilgrim women did– as if I have no attachment to this world. A woman who trusts God to lead through her husband, imperfect though he may be. A woman who embraces God’s will and one who will do anything to protect my children and thereby invest in the next generation.
We shouldn’t feel comfortable here if we are citizens elsewhere. And the sooner we realize that our identity is in Christ, and not material things, education, social status or what others think of us, the sooner we will be about our Father’s business, and desiring to accomplish His will, as they did. As soon as we stop thinking with temporal minds, we will begin to do great and courageous acts such as those noble women of 1620.
It was replied that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both met and overcome with answerable courage. –William Bradford