As Marcia Moston worked on laying slate stones for a patio outside her comfortable New Jersey home, a sudden thought came to mind. Her husband, Bob, was on a mission trip to Guatemala. What if he returned home saying their entire family should go back? Marcia brushed the thought off as absurd.
But two days later, that’s exactly what happened. The mission Bob had helped needed a couple to oversee a home for widows and orphans, and he felt God was calling his family to the job.
Marcia tells of her family’s experiences following God’s call in Call of a Coward: The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife.
Marcia didn’t eagerly jump at the chance to go to a Central American country.
Years earlier we had pledged to follow the Lord wherever he led, but after ten years of marriage, my fervor had settled around me like a cozy comforter on a winter’s night. Zealous promises made on a beach under a starry sky lay buried under the security of paychecks and health insurance. Bob’s return from his mission trip with the conviction that we go to Guatemala unleashed a torrent of fears that shattered my tidily defined world (p. 17).
They were already heavily involved in Christian work. Guatemala was dangerous with rebel activity. What about their ten-year-old daughter, Lily?
Adamant as I was about not going, a glaring contradiction in my theology nagged me. I wondered how I could so easily believe in Someone who created the universe, parted the Red Sea, and rose from the dead, but not trust him to take care of my daughter (p. 18).
God kept working on Marcia’s heart until she finally surrendered. Then the family prepared to drive all the way from New Jersey to a Mayan village in Guatemala. Marcia tells the story of their journey, time in Guatemala, call to a small pastorate in Vermont, and the joy of leading several mission trips back to Guatemala. She writes with with both humor and conviction that God calls and works in and through His people today.
Marcia’s writing first came to my attention in columns for The Write Conversation. I enjoyed what she had to say and her style, and I loved the title of her book. So I bought it and finally read it.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
Those kicking and screaming death-throes moments when you realize you aren’t and you can’t are God’s opportunities to show you he is and he can (p. 34).
Saying grace before eating took on a whole new importance for me. A blithely spoken, “Lord, bless this food” came to mean a seriously earnest, “Kill it, purify it, and give me the grace to eat it” (p. 36).
It’s a noble thing to say you would lay down your life for a loved one. It’s quite another if you are called upon unexpectedly to share your last bit of chocolate (p. 90).
The hepatitis had left us with about as much energy as a sloth on sedatives (p. 121).
Later, I found out that my sister in New York, who had no idea where we were at the time, had woken up that same night we were in the town of the sorcerers, with an urgency to pray for us (p. 133).
The downside of a miracle is the predicament required to precipitate it. That’s also the very place where faith grows (p. 155).
Reflecting on the biblical admonition that any works not built on Christ would be burned, I imagined the glow filling the eastern horizon of heaven as my works went up in a bonfire if I didn’t stop throwing myself pity parties (p. 162).
I looked at the engrossed, saucer-eyed faces and breathed a silent prayer of thanks for being witness to this “first” in someone’s life, for the privilege of bearing words of life (p. 181).
You can find an interview with Marcia here.
I’ve always identified with Moses’s list of excuses why he couldn’t possibly answer God’s call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And I identified with Marcia’s trepidation as well, and was encouraged by how God answered and enabled her.
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