Greg and I have been reading “The Testament” by John Grisham together – out loud, a few chapters a night before turning in. This is my favorite book by Grisham – and one that I have recommended to other people over the years because of the strong redemption and salvation message in it.
It is a story of a very wealthy man who takes his own life – but before he does he signs a handwritten will leaving his entire estate to an illegitimate daughter – a missionary deep in the jungle of Brazil. But as much as the wealth and power of this one man gets much attention in the early chapters of the book – it is really a story about the journey of the troubled and complicated lawyer, Nate – who is the one appointed to find and share the news of the inheritance and who takes a journey to Brazil to find her. It is about his life and what happens to him after encountering her, a simple missionary who has no regard for money. In fact she refuses to have anything to do with what she has inherited, which would make her the richest woman in the world. Her attitude about money so changes him – that his life is never quite the same. He see his life in a different way after being with her – and he finally finds God in a simple but powerful way.
We have been reading it – and pondering after each chapter. What if someone left us 11 billion dollars? Would it change us? How? In her case wouldn’t she be able to buy more medical supplies – or even build a clinic – a hospital or something greater to help the Indian people? How about a school – or several? How about churches or universities? A boat for traveling around on the many rivers in that remote area? It is staggering to think how much you could buy with unlimited resources like that.
But then, we were forced to ponder her ‘take’ on the situation. How she heard what was left to her – considered it – and then refused it. She had no relationship with her wealthy father – never knew him in fact. I believe she thought that money corrupts – in much the way it had her half brothers and sisters she had read about – and how it brought no peace and happiness in the end for her father.
I believe that it is refreshing to hear that not everyone finds the same value in wealth or position in this world. That living simply – finding real lasting peace and joy from fulfilling a calling that burns deep inside is really the only way to live. This woman had nothing but the clothes on her back – a tiny shack to live in and limited medical supplies – but she had something that very few people have. She had peace, a purpose and a deep and sincere love for people in Brazil. And that was all she wanted or needed. Her faith in God sustained her and it was enough.
It is inspiring to read a story like this – and to recognize and honor those who have left behind a life of many comforts – and many stresses to follow a calling that burns within – with no regard to personal financial freedom and normal comforts. And we know MANY people who have followed where God has led them around the world and even here at home to do the same. These chosen people have found real joy and peace in following what is so real to them – it is the driving force of their life – and those that encounter them and their life of sacrifice are never the same.
As we all strive to find out our ultimate calling and purpose that God has for us – may be do it with humility of spirit – never being lured by the thought of financial gain or personal comfort. Our prayer needs to be: “Lord, I pray that those that come across my path will forever be changed – because when they see me – I want them to see you, because when they really see you – they will never be the same” Amen