"I have never repented leaving all for Christ."
Those words came from the lips of a refined nineteen year old woman as she lay on her deathbed. In the book Delighting in Her Heavenly Bridegroom: The Memoirs of Harriet Newell, Teenage Missionary Wife (edited and annotated by Jennifer Adams), I discovered a lovely sister in Christ.
Though she never lived to see the conversion of one soul as a result of her sacrifice, she declared on her deathbed, "Tell my family--assure them, that I approve on my dying bed the course I have taken. I have never repented leaving all for Christ." She was newly married, only nineteen years old, and had already lost her first-born at sea for the sake of the gospel. Yet she counted Christ worthy, and was willing to follow Him wherever He led, even if she never lived to see any fruit. (Adams, p. 14)
Christ is so worthy of every "sacrifice." Whatever life may bring or death may take, Christ is better. We can't lose because as heirs with Christ, Christ is all, and Christ is gain. Harriet Newell believed the words of the Apostle Paul, "To live is Christ and to die is gain."
In fact, when the doctor told her that she was near death, she clasped her hands with delight and exclaimed, "O blessed news!" When her husband asked her how death then appeared to her, she said "Glorious!" Harriet repeatedly spoke of enjoying "the light of Immanuel's countenance." This phrase was her hallmark. She had one desire--to behold the beauty of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (Adams, p. 25)
Harriet never made it to the mission field. She left this world to enter into the eternal delights of her heavenly bridegroom on a ship sailing towards India.
In her memorial sermon, Harriet's pastor made this observation about the sacrifice of a missionary wife: The cause of Christ among the heathen possesses attractions above all other objects. It has the absolute control of the missionary's heart. He forsakes father and mother, house and land, not because he is wanting in affection for them, but because he l oves Christ more. He forsakes them because his heart burns with the holy desire that Christ may have the heathen for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession. (Adams, p. 31)
Having encountered my own weakness and incompetency in the face of the missionary task, I echo Harriet's resolve to cling to Christ her Savior:
However weak and unqualified I am, there is an all-sufficient Savior ready to support me. In God alone is my hope. I will trust His promises and consider it one of the highest privileges that could be conferred upon me to be permitted to engage in His glorious service among the wretched inhabitants of India. (Adams, p. 34)
May we, like Harriet Newell, cling to Christ, the all-sufficient Savior ready to support us. May we, like Harriet, declare in response to the news of coming death, "Glorious!" For our Christ is so worthy. To live is Christ--and truly, to die is gain.