A good question to ask this time of year is “what is the commodity that I have traded my life for in this past year”. View the next 24 hours as medium of exchange. During the 24 hours I am spending life just as I spend dollars. I can quantify what I have spent my dollars for, but it become a little more challenging to quantify what I have spent my life for. It is tragic to look back on my life and all I see is an empty bag.
Many years ago, I became interested in studying the exploration of interior Africa in its initial stages. I have been to Africa several times for ministry and the continent has intrigued me. Among the many explorers of this continent are David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley. If you are a reader, they are both page turners.
David Livingston was Scottish. He was born and raised in very humble circumstances in western Scotland. He did not want to work in the mills, spinning wool from the sheep, so he headed for Edinburgh. It was while he was in Edinburg he felt called to become a doctor. For this he needed to travel to London. While he was in London he became a part of the London Missionary society. It was at this time that Africa became his target. He would become a medical missionary to Africa.
It was no small project to raise sufficient money to travel to this continent, and also purchase medical supplies for his journey. Eventually, he found himself aboard a ship that carried him to Cape Town, South Africa. Before his journey south, he had to organize all of his supplies, plus he had to hire porters and wagons to transport all of his supplies. On His way north he stopped at the home of James Moffat, One of the first missionaries to the continent. Livingstone eventually married one of Moffat’s daughters. He continued north, into the heart of Africa, sharing the Gospel and caring for the sick. He was the first man to traverse all of Africa from East to West, finding the source of the Congo river and following it all the way to the Atlantic, then back to the interior again.
The outside world did not know what happened to Dr. Livingstone. There was no mail so he could not correspond with the outside world. A journalist, working for a New York Newspaper received permission to launch a search for the missionary. The journalist name was Henry Morton Stanley. He began his search from the east coast of Africa, near the Zambesi river. Along the way he would ask the villagers if they had seen a white man. He got as far as Lake Victoria when he hit pay dirt. Yes, there was a white man in the area who had been talking about a foreign God and whose medicine made them feel better. Stanley found Livingston and his first words to him were, “Doctor Livingston I presume?”
Stanley attempted to convince the doctor that he should return to England where fame awaited him. But he declined.
The years had not been kind to the doctor. His feet were severely ulcerated from walking through swamps and never drying out. He suffered serious intestinal problems from drinking impure water and eating African food. His medicine supply had run out so he could not doctor himself.
Doctor Livingstone died while on one of his treks. He had told his porters, who had become extremely devoted to him, “remove my heart and bury it in Africa”. The porters then took his body to the coast, where his remains were transported to England. His body today lies in Westminster Abbey.
David Livingstone’s story has followed me all of my life. There is no doubt what he spent his for.
For many years I have closed the year by conducting a personal inventory. This is not merely a mental journey of what has happened…that is a diary. Rather, with notebook and yellow pad in hand, I go over the year of the accomplishments and defeats. The success and the failure. The relationships and the shipwrecks. I only have one opportunity to live life.
Throughout this month I have focused these thoughts on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary did not really have a chance to make a choice as to what she was going to do with her life. The Eternal God made that choice for her. In her spontaneous exaltation to God for what He had done, she exclaimed, “from this time on, all generations shall call me blessed”.[ Luke 1:48]
I attempt to visualize what kind of a Mother Mary was. The Bible contains very little information of the 30 years Jesus was in her home and she cared for Him as a mother. There was the tragedy after His birth, where Herod the Great killed all the babies under two years old. Mary, along with Joseph fled to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. The Bible does not tell us how long they were in Egypt. Then, an angel appears to Joseph, telling him that Herod had died and it was now safe to return to Israel. Joseph, with is wife Mary, and this Divine Infant, traveled all the way back to Nazareth. I’m thinking in terms of a Mother, and she alone knows and understands who this child is. They make this journey of over 100 miles back to the village of Nazareth and then, there is silence for many years. How did Mary care for the raising of this child? There is one hint in Luke 2:41. The family had made their annual journey to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. As they were returning, she looked through the caravan, to find this child for whom she was responsible. Jesus was not with them. So, she and Joseph returned to Jerusalem and for three days searched. There would be up to 3,000,000 people in Jerusalem at this feast. Can you imagine the trauma and panic? “…three days later they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions”. [Luke 2:46}
It seems that Mary became a follower of Jesus in His itinerate ministry. It was Mary who came to Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana, apprising Him that the wine had run out. Why did His mother come with this question? Had she seen His supernatural ability?
The most tragic moment for this mother was in Jerusalem, for another Passover, but her Son had become the object of the hatred of the Jewish legalism. She had to have been at the foot of the cross. Jesus, before He breathed his last, looked at her and said “woman, behold your Son”! He then looked at John and said, “behold your mother”. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”
There is one more glimpse of Mary. It is in the first chapter of Acts, as the Apostles gather to replace Judas. Among those who gathered at that meeting was Mary. The mother of Jesus. [Acts 1:14]
Mary disappears. We have no record of what John did with this significant woman. We do know that John spent the rest of his life at Ephesus. I want to know how Mary felt and how she spent the rest of her life. One thing I do know…her life was spent with great significance.

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