Maybe you have heard of Lottie Moon. She is famous in Southern Baptist circles for a missionary offering that bears her name. She spent close to 40 years serving as a missionary in China.
In her last years in China, the Chinese were struggling with poverty, famine, and the effects of war. When Moon returned from her second furlough in 1904, she was deeply struck by the suffering of the people who were literally starving to death all around her. She pleaded for more money and more resources, but the mission board was heavily in debt and could send nothing. Mission salaries were voluntarily cut.
Unknown to her fellow missionaries, Moon shared her personal finances and food with anyone in need around her, severely affecting both her physical and mental health.
In 1912, she only weighed 50 pounds. Alarmed, fellow missionaries arranged for her to be sent back home to the United States with a missionary companion. However, Moon died en route, at the age of 72, on December 24, 1912.
She almost never made it over to China.
Lottie was in love, and she was about to marry someone who would have most likely kept her off the mission field.
She endured depressing bouts of loneliness in China and yet turned down a marriage proposal from Dr. Crawford Toy, a Confederate army chaplain, who had courted her before she left for China while she was living at her family plantation in Virginia.
Missionary life appealed to him, and marriage appealed to her, but his Christian ideals did not match hers. He was a Darwinian evolutionist, and evolution was a view Moon considered untenable and important enough to prohibit their future life together. She decided that she could not love a man who was not a follower of God in the same manner as she was and broke off the engagement.
Years later when she was questioned as to whether she had ever been in love, Moon responded:
“Yes, but God had first claim on my life, and since the two conflicted, there could be no question about the result.”
This decision was also a huge turning point in Lottie’s life in that it signified her complete devotion to God and the church as she surrendered herself to carrying out his will. But when she set off for China the second time, she was even more alone than ever for she lacked both her fiancé affections and her sister’s support.
I share this story with you to inspire you and to cause you to do some introspection.
For those who are single and wanting to serve God your entire life, there is something worse than being single – being married to someone who doesn’t wholeheartedly love Jesus.
Don’t waste your life on someone who associates with Jesus and yet He is not transforming that person daily. Think about all that wouldn’t have happened if Lottie chose differently.
Never choose comfort over the Commission.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.