In my recent blog “My Own Little Calcutta”, I shared about how my mission field looks very different from the heroic missionaries who set off to third world countries to proclaim the Gospel. And your mission might look entirely different from mine.
A week after writing that blog, my heart stirred again when I heard Fr. Edwin Leonard remind us at our church’s Lenten mission series that we were “made for mission”.
He urged us to see every moment and every encounter as an invitation to live the mission God has given us. But whether it’s right within the walls of our home, off in another country, or even in our job, Fr. Edwin challenged us that our mission must flow from a personal relationship with Jesus, fueled by prayer.
So when my friend Amber* told me about a family she met at work that changed her life, I thought to myself, THIS is what it means to be made for mission - even inside the delivery room.
I share Amber’s story with you, hoping you too will be inspired to live out the unique mission God has given you - embracing every ordinary moment as an extraordinary opportunity to spread His fragrance everywhere you go…
On my way to work as a labor and delivery nurse, I always pray for the charge nurse on duty at the hospital that day. I pray the Lord will guide her as she makes out the patient assignments for the day. Then I pray for each patient I will be caring for - that they might feel the presence of the Lord in me. I pray I can bring them comfort and love, and be a reflection of Christ to them.
It was a normal Saturday as I arrived to work. When I got my assignment, my co-workers all said, “You’re gonna love this couple! They are so precious!” As I walked through the door of the delivery room, there before me was a beautiful family - the wife and the husband, the wife’s mother, and her sister. They were brimming with joy and excitement about their coming baby.
By this time, the baby was about four to five days overdue. Mom had finally come in for labor, and it was clear she had a plan for how she wanted things to go. What instantly struck me was the joy, love, and peace that filled the room. But what moved me even more was the constant PRAYING that filled the room.
From the moment I walked in, the woman’s husband was completely attentive to her needs. He rubbed her back, stroked her hair, and massaged her feet. The scene before me was unlike anything I had witnessed before.
As the hours passed, the woman’s labor progressed and became a little more intense. Through it all, her entire family surrounded her in the room - praying. They prayed for the labor, they prayed for the baby, they prayed for the midwife, and they prayed for the nurses. I even heard them praying for me. I was deeply touched.
Everything that transpired was brought in prayer before the Lord. As the woman’s labor intensified, her husband was on his knees the entire time. Her bed had been lowered, and he knelt on a little pillow we had given him. That faithful man knelt by her side, rubbing her head, all day long.
As she labored and agonized in pain, her husband agonized too. Her tears became his tears, and he cried right alongside her.
Her mother was a solid ROCK. She had had ten children of her own, and her presence in the room was calm and confident. In her silent strength, I could hear her spirit as if to say, ‘Yep. This is labor. This is what we do. This is how a baby comes forth into the world.’
At one point she was walking in the hallway, and I was walking beside her. She turned to me and said, “You know what? Sometimes I think God allows us to suffer like this, so that we can understand His suffering. It’s just like the redemption of the cross. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us, but we have the greatest love story. Because He rose again and opened the gates of heaven for us. So in the midst of labor, often times I reflect on the suffering of Christ. My daughter is suffering for her child, only to bring about one of the greatest love stories she’ll ever experience - the birth and new life of her child.”
At that moment I thought to myself in amazement, ‘This family has come to such a deep and beautiful understanding of Christ’s love - and the gift of His redemptive suffering. And this deep knowledge has come to this family through their personal relationship with Jesus in PRAYER.’
The day continued, and the woman’s labor had slowed down. At that point the midwife felt it was time to break her water. The couple felt very nervous about that. Once again, I heard them say, “Let’s pray.” And they prayed about that too, “Lord, help us to make the right decision. We’ve been praying for our midwife, and if this is something she thinks we should do, then we trust in You. We pray You continue to guide her in caring for our baby.”
Then they went ahead and broke the water.
The Word of God came alive right there in my midst, as I watched this family live out their mission…
Rejoice in the Lord always.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4: 4-7, NIV)
What joy and peace surrounded me.
My shift ended a few hours before their precious baby was delivered, so I didn’t get to experience his actual birth. But what I did experience was a kind of new birth in me. Here I was the nurse who was supposed to be physically caring for them, but in so many ways they were spiritually caring for me.
When I walked into work that morning, I had prayed that God would use me to minister His love to my patients. I had no idea He was going to use them to minister to me. I’ve met countless families over the years, but this was a family I would never forget.
I drove home to my own family with contagious joy and excitement! I cherish my mission as a wife and mom to my six children, and I’m so thankful to God for the mission He has given to me as a nurse.
That evening, after such a powerful day at work, I shared with my daughters (who also want to become nurses) the incredible blessing it is for me to be a nurse - and the unforgettable impact of that family on me.
And one of the greatest gifts they gave me was a renewed conviction and urgency to pray about EVERYTHING.
I never imagined that one day in the delivery room would change the way I view prayer and my relationship with Christ - simply through another’s witness of prayer and their relationship with Him.
The way one faithful family lived out their mission has reignited the way I want to live out mine.
Help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go…
Shine through us, and so be in us.
that every soul we come in contact with
may feel Your presence in our soul…
Let us proclaim You without preaching,
not by words but by our example,
by the catching force,
the sympathetic influence of what we do,
the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You.
(St. Mother Teresa’s favorite prayer - by Blessed Cardinal Newman)
*My friend’s name has been changed so she and the family she cared for remain anonymous.
Thank you, Amber (😉), for your beautifully receptive and fragrant heart. Without it, this story would never have been shared!