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Boyce Mouton wrote this story when he ministered in California many years ago:

“In 1954, a young missionary recruit to Alaska was stricken with a paralytic disease which left her bedfast for the last 10 years of her life. Her name was Marie Napier.

The first time I met Marie was in her home in Sunnyvale, CA. As I stepped into the front room, I immediately discerned the sickening pulsation of her breathing machine. It was a rocking bed, the first one I had ever seen. The bed, patient and all, was rocking back and forth in large gyrations.

Marie was emaciated and pale. She had not moved in over five years. I awkwardly tried not to stare at her shriveled body.

I clumsily looked at my feet to conceal the expression of shock on my face. I raised my eyes to concentrate on her face, and there I saw a broad and understanding smile.

Gradually, I grew more comfortable in her presence and we began to talk. It was evident that even a simple conversation was a difficult task for Marie. She timed her words to coincide with the proper movement of the bed and spoke in short sentences. When I left there that day I walked with an invigorated step. I had been exposed to a contagious mixture of warmth and courage.

I visited Marie on other occasions and each time I found the same emotion when I left. I had come to give, but I had left receiving.

The last time I saw Marie before her death was in the Santa Clara County Hospital in San Jose, CA. A power failure had stopped the rhythm of her bed, and by the time she arrived at the hospital the flame of her life was burning very low. I came the next day for scripture and prayer. The pulsing collar of the iron lung had left her neck chaffed and raw. The doctor had given her a brief respite from the painful lung to a less efficient device that did not hurt her neck. It was a ‘breathing shell’, which was placed across her torso. As I stepped to her side she looked up with tired eyes. A faint smile broke out on her face and she gasped, ‘I’m so thankful for my shell.’

Boyce Mouton went on to write, “At a time when many people would have cursed God for the paralysis, the power failure, the pain, and the thousands of heartaches associated with suffering, Marie Napier speaks from the grave a sermon in one sentence. ‘I’M SO THANKFUL FOR MY SHELL.’”

SOURCE: Boyce Mouton, Carl Junction Christian Church, Missouri. Citation: Found in "For Granted, or Gratitude" by Steve Shepherd on www.sermoncentral.com.

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