the m word
He was six, and we were driving through a gray mist, past an unbroken stretch of evergreen trees.
"Mom, when I grow up, you know what I want to be?"
For a long time he'd thought he might like to be a teenage mutant ninja turtle, but since he hadn't mentioned that for awhile, I figured he'd gone on to something else.
"No, Zac. What do you want to be when you grow up?" I glanced into the rear-view mirror and saw his reflection captured there.
"I can't remember what it's called," he began. "It's that m word."
"Musician?" I offered.
"Not that either."
"Moose-hunter?" I grinned at him in the mirror. He grinned back, but shook his head.
"Mom, I'm serious. It's that m word that means you go over to other countries and you tell people about Jesus."
His words entered my ears and worked themselves down to my heart, where they settled like a warm blanket. "Really, Zac? You want to be a missionary?"
"No ... not a missionary," he said. "It's that other m word." He scrunched his forehead, trying to think of a way to refine his description. With another glance, I saw his face relax. He'd thought of a way. "It's that m word that means you go over to other countries and tell people about Jesus ... and they kill you for it."
The blanket around my heart became a tourniquet, twisting and tightening. And I experienced a moment of pure schizophrenia. Two beings awakened in me and fought for dominance. One half -- the She-bear half, roared a silent Never! to the thought of my son being martyred, to the thought of anyone daring to turn their ignorant wrath on my boy. But as quickly as I screamed that noiseless denial, the Sister-in-Christ part of me forced her way to the surface. Yes, Zac. You hold on to that devotion with everything you've got, she whispered.
He let his pronouncement hang in the air, and then he turned those green eyes toward the treeline outside the window. I watched him staring at the blur of gray-green mist, and without the privilege of entering his thoughts, I knew them. He was dreaming of someday ... a day when he would stand up for the thing he loves most, no matter the consequences. He was dreaming of a day when he'd grow into the courage of Paul, and Peter, and Jesus, and all the others he's heard about, who didn't seek their own deaths, or choose them, but who loved truth more than their own life, and who faced the closing of one door for the joy of the opened door before them.
I drew a breath ... and began to pray.
What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. -James 4:14 NIV
And anyone who gives up his home, brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, or property, to follow me, shall receive a hundred times as much in return, and shall have eternal life. -Matt 19:29 TLB