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The Inner Strength of A Mother: The Story of Elizabeth Scatliff

“My dear mother, besides the rains she took with me, often commended me with many prayers and tears to God; and I doubt not but I reap the fruits of these prayers to this hour.”

– John Newton

Elizabeth Scatliff was the mother of John Newton, a popular English Anglican clergyman, and abolitionist.

She died at the young age of 27, a few weeks short of her son- John Newton’s 7th birthday. 

A few years before then, she became ill as she suffered from tuberculosis, and that was the state she was in for most of John’s life.

She knew that her time with her son was short, and so she spent a lot of her time training and pouring teachings into his life. She became his instructor, and it was said by John that he had become an avid reader from the young age of 4.

Elizabeth was not only interested in ensuring that her child had a good education, but she was also even more concerned that his faith would grow. She invested time in teaching him and laying an important foundation for his faith, which was the anchor that held him and brought him back years after when his faith would waver, and he would slip into sin and depravity.

Though she was ill, weak, and frail, she did not allow her weakness to stop her from fulfilling her purpose as a mother. She poured so much of the knowledge of God into her son for the short time she had to spend with him. It has been recorded that she taught him God’s word, about salvation, about honoring the word of God above all else. She taught him about holiness and living a life pleasing to God. She even taught him many songs, that he still remembered long after her passing. 

Sadly, she did not live a long life, but her life was one of great impact, the kind that resonated through history, long after she was gone.

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After her death, John slipped into a lifestyle that was far from what his mother wished for him. Despite that, he traced his way back to God and became a mighty arrow in the hands of God. John Newton was known to have written so many hymns that we know and sing today, including the famous, ‘Amazing Grace’.

In his own words, John talks about the influence of his mother,

“Though in process of time I sinned away all the advantages of these early impressions, yet they were for a great while a restraint upon me; they returned again and again, and it was very long before I could wholly shake them off; and when the Lord at length opened my eyes, I found a great benefit from the recollection of them. Elizabeth, he said, had “stored my memory, which was then very retentive, with many valuable pieces, chapters and portions of scripture, catechisms, hymns, and poems.” (Challies, n.d.)

Lessons from Elizabeth Scatliff

Our weaknesses should never stop us from rising to the great task of motherhood. God can use us as we are and despite our current weaknesses.

The seeds we sow into the hearts of our children today can form the anchor to hold them down when the raging storms of life want to sweep them off the path of godliness.

Are you also ill, or weak in some areas? 

It should never stop you. 

Decide today that you would use your influence as a mother to raise godly children, whose hearts burn for the Lord and His Kingdom.

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