Another story from Africa: Everiste the Tall Pygmy
Giving, Receiving and the Kingdom of God

Marie Gives Me Hope

Marie is back in the hospital, and I know she's disappointed to be there. She's been struggling with heart problems for years, but things have gotten significantly more challenging since she slipped on the ice on the way to her mailbox back in February. Now, every time it looks like she's resolved a problem, another one occurs. I went to the hospital yesterday with a very heavy heart about this, fully expecting to find Marie discouraged, depressed and frustrated. But she wasn't at all. In fact, her spirit was so bright it lit up the room.

Marie is a person with a strong sense of "call", that is, she believes that God is personally involved in her life, and has work for her to do that joins with God's larger purpose for the world. Her sense of call has been nurtured over many years through her involvement with our church (which puts such an emphasis on this theology that is sometimes even describes itself as a "call based community") and with other organizations like Faith@Work.

I've wondered about this emphasis in KC's theology at times--it's one thing to embrace God's call when you're young and active, but is this really a theology that you can grow old with? Isn't there an implication within the idea of call that God is more connected to your life when you're doing something useful?

But Marie makes me think otherwise. She's quite clear that she's where she needs to be right now, and not just because she can get the medical help she needs in the hospital. She has a sense of God's call in her life right now, even in the midst of near-constant medical upheaval. She is deeply grateful for the care she has received from medical staff, including the people who transport her to tests and drive ambulances, and she showers them with praise. She's overflowing with gratitude for her church friends, her neighbors, her daughters, and has story after story of how important relationships in her life have been deepened over the course of these difficult months. And her faith continues to deepen as well. "I feel Jesus walking with me, every step of the way," she told me some months ago.

Marie gives me hope that God's call isn't just a to-do list, and that it extends to parts of our lives when we are not about giving or doing, but receiving and embracing. And Marie gives me hope for churches where there are aging people, because she models to me, even from her hospital bed, the kind of life I want to live into.

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