Born in 1848, Mary Slessor was raised by an alcoholic father. When she grew older, she found work in a cotton mill, but she longed to become a missionary. She found inspiration in David Livingston, an early nineteenth century British explorer who traveled to remote regions in Africa to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Compelled by his story, Mary left her home in order to go where no other white person had settled in Western Africa.
At the age of twenty-eight, Mary established a missionary base in the Calabar region of Africa. Settling in the area was highly dangerous. Some of the accepted cultural beliefs of the time included burying widows alive in their husband’s graves and killing innocent children. Yet Mary refused to give up—despite battling sickness often and living with constant threats. Over the years, her commitment to Christ, sharing the gospel, and opposing injustices had a profound impact on the culture. Not only did locals hear the good news of Jesus Christ but Mary challenged a long-held superstition that twins were evil. Because of her hard work and prayer, locals finally quit the horrible customary practice of killing and abandoning of twins.
Today in Nigeria, Mary is recognized and honored as a spiritual leader who saved the lives of countless children and women and shared the good news of Christ with many.
God used a short, red-haired, Presbyterian missionary to make a profound impact in our world. But in order to lay hold of the life God had for Mary Slessor, she had to leave that which was comfortable and familiar behind, a necessary ending, in order to lay hold of the new beginning God had for her.
Though our stories may not be as dramatic as Mary’s, we all have moments in our lives where we sense God calling us to leave something behind in order to lay hold of the something new God has for us. Sometimes the “necessary endings” we’re facing are practical. We may sense the invitation to leave a place or a job in order to step into the fullness of life and service God intends. Or we may feel a nudge toward a necessary ending through forgiveness of something that’s happened to us in the past. Or maybe we’re aware of an unhealthy pattern or addiction in our lives and we’ve got to make a break. Whatever necessary ending you may need to make, rest assured that it’s worth it in order to lay hold of the freedom and fullness of life God has for you.
From A Time for Everything © 2013 Margaret Feinberg (Thomas Nelson) Used by permission. A Time for Everything is part of the Women of Faith Study Guide Series and includes 12 weeks of Bible study for group or individual use. Order a copy of A Time for Everything here.