17 August 2016

Mrs Peter

He comes home
in the middle of the night -
his birthday; I'd cooked
and waited, as it got cold.
He comes home,
shouting, "Darling! Pack! We're leaving!"
And off we are again
to I-don't-know-where.

He comes home
just before lunch -
I'm in the kitchen, cooking
for two, but he
brings a crowd, because
"John's got nowhere to go,
and here's this guy we met today,
and here's his wife,
and look - our new brother!"
(Don't ask me how
our food multiplied.)

Or he doesn't come home
for days on end,
and I wonder:

Is he in prison?
Is he dead?
Or at the other end of the world?
He comes back a month later
with all sorts of news,
lots of dirty washing,
and here and there a souvenir.

Sometimes I miss home,
or times of just us together,
or simply normal life
without faces at the window,
without twenty guests a day,
without fear for his safety.
He doesn't smell of fish now -
which maybe is a good thing -
but some days he comes back bloodied,
and I no longer clean the nets
but his wounds.

But this is my service
of love to him,
and this is my service
of love to the Lord.
Cleaning wounds,
cooking for armies,
meeting the strangers he drags in,
moving so often,
visiting him in prison,
fearing for his life -
all this is worth it,

I get to meet so many people,
I get to share in so much joy,
I get to see so many places,
I get to shine for Christ my Lord.
I would not exchange this life
for comfort or riches or normality -
would not exchange the experience
of watching reconciliation bloom,
of seeing broken lives made new,
of seeing hope rise where there once was despair,
of being a puny cog
in the marvellous work of God.


[17. January 2012 - edited 17. August 2016]

I'm a second generation missionary kid, so I've seen and heard a bit about the lives of missionary wives. I have for instance heard the story that my grandfather (missionary in Sicily) used to bring people to lunch unannounced quite regularly. And I know of missionary families where they had to move from one moment to the next because there was a war, or they were being kicked out of the country, or similar. Not easy.

But missionary wives are not just tag-alongs or behind-the-scenes workers; they are also missionaries in their own right, or should be. In fact, hospitality and cooking for whoever the husband brings home can be a really important way in building relationships and helping people come closer to Jesus. Because often what people experience or see in our family life or our relationships to each other will convince them a lot more than any words we preach! They want to see that Christianity works.

Anyway, the wife of the Apostle Peter probably didn't have it very easy - those days it was a bit harder again than it is now, after all. For instance: we have internet and telephones now, but just a hundred years ago, leaving one's friends and family to become a missionary meant not seeing them or hearing from them for ages. Letters took months to arrive! In ancient times it was even worse. Travelling was harder too, and took longer. No planes, no trains, no cars. And even now, being a missionary is not always easy - depending of course where one lives, and how one lives.

BUT it's worth it. Because there's more to life than comfort, and we have heaven before us with all eternity to catch up on good things we're missing now.

By the way: we don't really read about Peter's wife in the Bible, but we do know he had one. Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law (Mt 8:14-15), i.e. Peter was married, and Paul mentions Peter taking his wife along with him on his mission journeys in 1. Cor 9:5.

Picture is "Fisherman's Wife praying for a happy return" by Henri Jacques Bource - I felt it was quite suitable.

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