Mary Slessor (1848-1915) was a Scottish Presbyterian missionary who spent most of her life working in Calabar (Nigeria). She was unusual in her time in that she was a solo female missionary, living and working more or less alone among the tribes there. She lived a brave, self-sacrificing life for the honour and glory of God and was particularly known for her tireless attempts to prevent the tribes’ practice of killing twin babies which they believed to be cursed.
There are many biographies of Mary Slessor: I’ve read Mary Slessor: A Life on the Altar for God by Bruce McLennan. I was struck by the following passage which is well worth meditating on at New Year. It is taken from her notebook of addresses given in the year 1874, when she was just 26 years old.
But it may be, there is some loved object, some cherished scheme, some doubtful amusement, which you feel unable, or it may be unwilling, to give up. If you could only have God’s favour and your idol too, it would be all right, but you fancy that life would lose all its brightness, and zest, if you were deprived of this … God will never deprive us of a single thing that makes us happy; but He is wise as well as loving. He knows that to indulge is sometimes to injure. Your loves may be lawful enough, but if they are not subordinated to His will, they are dangerous. Give them to Him, and then if they will add to your happiness and usefulness, He will give them back, stripped of their power to harm or ensnare, and if he sees it necessary to take them He will give a thousand fold of an equivalent. … Bring then your self, your will, your affections, your treasures, your all, and lay them on His altar this morning as a New Year gift to Him.
This is an important theme and one on which Jesus’s teaching was very clear too – ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ (Mark 8:34-36)
We wish all our readers God’s blessing for 2020.
National Museums Scotland] [A00127 – 01/01/2020]