Zap. Pow. KABOOM!
As the dust and rubble settled the superhero could be seen, standing proudly, his cape streaming out behind him. He had saved the world single-handedly – yet again.
I turned back to my housework as the kids waited eagerly for their next action cartoon. Once again they dreamed of becoming superheroes, fearless and victorious over the enemy.
I suppose they might as well enjoy it while they can, I thought. They’ll find out soon enough that real life can be all too mundane. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my life. Certainly I was blessed with a great husband and family. We had full lives and were busy helping out at our church each Sunday.
Yet, I understood the kids’ desire for escapism. Even I looked forward to my regular episodes of action, adventure, sometimes even horror – but always final victory – with my own superhero.
When I had a break during my duties at the nursing home, or when I could stay back for a while, I would pull up a chair in the TV room. Invariably she would be there. Perhaps others would already be gathered around and the story already begun. Today I was the only one to join her. So I asked, “MissionMary, please tell me another story.”
No-one knew how she first got the name MissionMary. Although her body was surrendering to age she always had the air of a person who lived her life with great purpose – as though she were on a secret mission. Her tales of adventure from her numerous mission trips were better than any TV stories I had watched.
I listened enthralled as she told tales of how she helped take the gospel to a cannibal tribe in the Amazon Jungle. She spoke with passion about the people who had suffered under demonic curses and the oppression of witchdoctors. What a victory when they were set free from bondage to see the truth of God’s love and His sacrifice for them!
MissionMary had smuggled bibles behind the iron curtain during the darkest days of communism. She knew it had been divine protection that had enabled the bibles to pass under the noses of guards unseen.
When pastors were jailed for their faith she brought them hope and encouragement. When they suffered beatings and torture she had lifted their spirits and urged them to keep their eyes on Jesus. Many times she would bring comfort and hope to their frightened families. She would bring provisions to help them practically in their time of need, but more importantly to renew their faith.
Whether it was across the world or across town, MissionMary had seen victory come to many hopeless situations. She had been a defender of the abused and downtrodden. Violent husbands had melted to repentance under her determined words. Prodigals had been searched out in their place of shame and snatched back so they could return to their families.
As I sat there, I realised the irony. Here was I, born with the name Martha, but also with her spirit of busyness, sitting at the feet of Mary, wanting to soak up her passion for life, her sense of purpose. She wasn’t really a “Mary” I thought – she didn’t just sit at the feet of Jesus. She was out there DOING and living a life of adventure I envied.
Today I asked her how many countries she had been to in her lifetime.
Looking me in the eye she said, “Martha, dear, I have never left my home state.”
“But . . . what . . ,” I stammered, not knowing whether to be angry and indignant or sad and disappointed.
With a knowing smile she continued, “These are the places and the people where the Lord takes me to in prayer. They are His victories that He has allowed me to be part of.”
“But, I . . . how . . ?” Tears welled in my eyes.
“Every day I sit at the feet of Jesus. Every day His word strengthens me. He gives me my missions – the places and people where heaven’s intervention is needed.”
“So you really are still a missionary?” It was beginning to sink in.
“Why, of course. Do you want to know my mission for today?” Her eyes searched mine.
“I think I already know. . .” A blush deepened over my face.
I took a deep breath. “Mary, could you teach me how to pray?”
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