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“I do long to be to my children a little faint picture of what God is,” wrote Hannah Whitall Smith to her daughter. This 19-Century writer of classic books of devotion, such as The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, kept up personal correspondence with many people through letters. Many of her letters are published in the book, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life. Here’s a letter Hannah Whitall Smith wrote to her daughter Mary:

Your loving praise is very sweet to me, even though I may think you look through eyes made kinder by love than they by rights ought to be. If only you can learn some little sense of what God is from your thoughts of me, I shall be more than content. I think I have learned more about the character of God from remembering what my own father and mother were to me than in almost any other way. And I do long to be to my children a little faint picture of what God is.

O great heart of God! whose loving

Cannot hindered be, nor crossed;

Will not weary, will not even

In our death itself be lost!

Love divine! of such great loving

Only mothers know the cost,

Cost of love, that, past all loving,

Gave itself to save the lost.

I think I understand this.

As mothers, we have the opportunity to understand God’s self-giving love and know a little of the cost of love.

Our perseverance in loving at all costs will provide our children a clearer picture of the great, self-giving love that God has for them.

~Catherine Lawton