Oh!" thought Anna Markham to herself as she closed the book she had been reading about a mission in Madagascar. "How I wish it were possible for me to do something like this for Christ," and here Anna lost herself in a sort of heroic dream. She pictured herself teaching, exhorting the unbelievers in India, or in some far African station, where the gospel had never before been heard. She fancied herself enduring suffering, starvation, imprisonment and torture for her faith, and had just come so far in her romance as to be "led out for execution," and "forgive her murderers with her last breath," when her mother called her from the next room.
The rapt, ecstatic look on Anna’s face gave way instantly to a fretful frown. "Oh, dear!" she said sharply to herself, "I never can be let alone a minute."
She threw down the book and went to her mother.
"Well, what is it?" she asked in a most ungracious tone.
"I want you to run over to Mrs. O’Hara and take her the dinner I have prepared for her, and Anna, if you can, get her up and make up her bed."
"Oh, Mother!" said Anna, as if she had been asked to perform impossibilities, "I can’t bear to go to Mrs. O’Hara’s, and the house is so dirty and disagreeable."
"She is an old lady and all alone," said her mother with some displeasure. "She cannot do anything for herself now, and it is the duty of her neighbors to take care of her till she is well."
"She might go to the resthome and let the nurses take care of her."
"She won’t go, as you know very well, and there are some good reasons on her side too. Besides, do you think it would be any more agreeable for the staff at the resthome to nurse Mrs. O’Hara than it is for you?"
"Well, I don’t like to," said Anna very crossly.
Anna obeyed her mother; however, she performed her errand in so ungracious and uncharitable a manner and assumed such an air of martyrdom that Mrs. O’Hara, who was by no means reserved in speech, told her that she’d "never be the lady her mother was." So Anna went home disgusted and wished herself away from a home where "no one understood her."
By the next day, however, she had forgotten about the matter and was telling her mother about the missionary story she had been reading and how she should like nothing better than to go as a missionary to Africa.
"What would you do there?" asked Mother, rather amused.
"Oh! Teach the children, and the women, and take care of the sick, and so forth."
"You think the natives of Africa would be less disagreeable than Mrs. O’Hara and you would take more pleasure in doing for them than for your own neighbor?"
The question at first angered Anna, but then she began to feel a little ashamed.
"Isn’t it rather better on the whole," said Mother, "to look about us and see what little things we can do if we will, than to spend the time fancying what great things we would do if we only could?"
After a little consideration, Anna began to see how little of the true missionary spirit she possessed and to feel that she was not actuated by right motives.
We must be willing to take up the little crosses that lie in our pathway and to labor for the good of others. In doing this we may show a true missionary spirit.