THE ROMANCE OF
A DOCTOR'S VISITS
by Walter Lewis Wilson, M.D.
The Holy Spirit wonderfully overrules mistakes when He is dealing with hearts and souls. This was remarkably demonstrated in a meeting which I held in southern Missouri in a Presbyterian church.
At the close of the afternoon service, a young woman with her two children remained seated, waiting for someone to help her in her personal soul-problem. I approached her with the question: "Would you like some help from the Scriptures? Did you understand the message of the afternoon?"
"I would like to be helped," she said; "I remained for that purpose. I do not understand the Bible, and do not know how to be a Christian. Have you time to show me?"
This cordial invitation convinced me that the Lord was dealing with the heart of this young mother, so I sat down beside her with my Bible, and asked, "Is there any part of the Scripture that you can quote?"
"Yes," she said, "I can quote John 3:16, for I learned it in Sunday school."
"Do you understand the meaning of that precious verse?" I inquired.
"No, I really do not. Will you please explain it to me?"
"Yes," I replied, "if you will first quote it."
The quotation which she gave was as follows: "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only 'forgotten' Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Noticing that she had used the word "forgotten" instead of the word "begotten," I took advantage of the thought in the word, and said: "Do you know why God 'forgot' His Son?"
"No, I do not," she answered. "I have often wondered why."
"It was because the Lord wanted to remember you," I answered. "God in heaven was willing to part with His Son for a little while, so that He might have you forever. He let His Son be enveloped in terrible darkness, so that He might give you a crown of light. He let Jesus die, so that He could give you eternal life. It was for you, my friend, that God 'forgot' His Son."
One could plainly observe that this answer had brought an entirely new thought to the mind and heart of this inquirer. She seemed puzzled for a while. The wonderful truth of the substitution of Christ for her seemed more than she could grasp or accept. We remained quiet for a little while, as she was thinking the matter through, and then she broke the silence by asking: "How do I know that He was doing that for me?"
This question puzzles many hearts. It is a stumbling block to many who attend revival meetings, who have their hearts stirred, and then fail to personally appropriate the Lord and Saviour for themselves. The devil usually suggests to the troubled heart that the gospel is for someone else, and that the Saviour is not particularly for him or her.
I replied to her inquiry by reading Romans 5:6 -- "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." "If you feel and realize that you are among the ungodly, then you may appropriate this remedy for yourself, just as you appropriated this seat for yourself when you entered the church. When you enter a drug store, you realize that the remedies there are for everyone; your own need leads you to take some of it for yourself. When you enter a grocery store, you realize that the food which is there is for everyone; but your hunger leads you to purchase some for yourself. At the street corner, you wait for the car, realizing that the car is for everyone; but it will only take you down town if you appropriate the car and a seat for yourself."
These illustrations seemed to clear up her question as to whether Christ was for her alone. I could see that the truth was dawning on her heart and that she was now ready to make Him her own.
"Have you ever noticed, my friend, that it takes two to make a gift?" I asked. "There must be the giver, and there must also be the one who accepts the gift. God has given His Son to you. Now he waits for you to receive His Son. Notice this verse: John 1:12 -- 'But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.' He wants you to accept that blessed gift right now where you are sitting. When you take Him, He takes you; He becomes your Lord and Saviour, and you become His child and His servant."
Eagerly she leaned forward, and said, "Doctor, I will take Him; I want Him. I do take Him just now, and I am sure that He takes me."
The surge of the new-found joy overcame her composure, and she bent her head while she wept quietly a few moments in the presence of her Lord. Then we kneeled together as we poured out our hearts in thanksgiving to the God of Love who gave His Son, and the Lord of Life who gave her everlasting life.
At the evening service she returned and brought her husband, who was an atheist, a scoffer and an enemy of the truth. Her testimony to him, and the great change in her attitude toward him, had deeply impressed his heart, and so he came, willing to listen to the message himself.
You, too, will be a soul winner and a blessed example to others, if you will accept Jesus Christ and let Him be the Lord of your life and the Saviour of your soul.
Upon one occasion, it so happened that in the mail placed upon my desk there was a letter from a radio friend in southern Kansas which told a story of unusual interest. She said that her sister held a prominent position in one of the large circuses touring the country. Her habit was to mail to this sister regularly copies of my morning radio messages, and these had stirred her heart quite deeply. Several letters had passed back and forth between them about the subject of salvation and Christian living.
A recent letter which had been received by my radio friend from her sister contained a request. This particular circus was soon to play in Kansas City, and the request was that she might have an opportunity to see me for a personal conference concerning the need of her own soul. Of course my radio friend sent the request on to me at Kansas City, and I looked forward with pleasure and anticipation for this conference.
In due time, the circus came to the city to play for two days. On the second day, I went out about half-past one in the afternoon in search of this sister. Her husband was at the front door of the show and directed me to the place in the "big top" where I would find his wife.
"I am sure," he said, "you will receive a cordial welcome from her, for she has been looking forward to seeing you, and told me to send you in as soon as you came."
Thanking him, I soon found my way to where the woman was working. As soon as she saw me, her whole countenance changed. A deep sadness and sorrow were evident.
"I am so glad you have come," she said, extending her hand for a greeting. "My sister has been writing me of your messages and I would like so much to talk with you about my own need."
"When may I have that privilege?" I asked.
"As soon as the grand entry begins, I will be free," she replied, "and I will meet you out at the front door. Will you wait for me there?"
Assenting to this, I went out to the front of the show, and there waited for perhaps thirty minutes or more until she came.
We went over to one side of the marquee, where we could be more or less quiet and where she could tell me of her soul's interest. It seemed that several of the radio messages about the meeting with God, the final judgment, God's wrath against sin, and the marks of a true Christian life, had all been used by the Holy Spirit to reveal to her the need of a Saviour.
"Do you believe that the Lord Jesus came to save sinners, Mrs. O---?" I asked. "You know about Him of course. Did God really send Him to save you? What is your attitude toward Him?"
She immediately replied: "I do not know; I wish I did. I know there is a Saviour, but I do not know how He saves sinners. I want to know; I want Him to save me."
Taking my Bible out of my pocket, I read to her John 5:24 -- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and SHALL NOT COME INTO CONDEMNATION (JUDGMENT); but is passed from death unto life."
On one side of us, the side-show banners, partly lowered, were flapping in the wind. Just behind them the colored band in the side show was beating out a medley of noises and a din that lacked much of making real harmony. Behind us was the menagerie, and over to the left was the "big-top" with the band playing for the various acts. What a place for a soul to be saved! The people were coming and going. A group of about thirty men were pulling and tightening the ropes of the tent. The candy-butchers were offering their products here and there, and those on the concession stands directly in front of us were crying out their wares. And yet God came into that scene in a wonderful way. In the midst of all the noises, the Prince of Peace was bringing peace.
The Scripture which we read together seemed to greatly interest my friend. She looked on the page in order to read it for herself. We re-read it together, slowly and carefully. I called her attention to each word, showing her that the Lord Jesus Himself was speaking; that He was inviting her to believe His word, and asking her to believe that God sent Him to save her; that He was promising her that the moment she would accept Him and give herself to Him, that He would immediately give her everlasting life, blot out every sin-stain, and make her a child of God.
As she listened intently to the message and followed the verse through again and again, she suddenly turned and asked: "If I trust in Jesus Christ today, will that save me from going to the judgment, as this verse seems to indicate? If so, why will I not go to the judgment? I do not understand."
What a pleasure it was to explain to her that the moment she trusted the Lord Jesus, He would immediately blot out all the adverse record in heaven, would write her name in the book of life, and would cleanse her from every sin-stain. Since no sins would be left, there would be nothing to go to the judgment for. I explained that Christ took the punishment for her at Calvary. We read together Isaiah 53:5, in which it is written: "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." Again we read in 1 Peter 3:18 -- "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."
"That is quite clear to me now," she said. "I understand it and see how it is that He can save the one who trusts Him."
She then bowed her head quietly, and said: "Lord Jesus Christ, I receive you just now, and I know that you take me. I thank you for doing so much for me on the cross, and I will seek to live for you now that I have trusted you. Thank you, Lord Jesus."
As she looked up, I noticed that her cheeks were wet, but the peace of God could be seen in her countenance. She had found rest in trusting Jesus Christ. Have you found rest in Him? If not, trust Him today as she did.
A few days after this happy occasion, Mrs. O--- resigned from the circus, and with her husband, she entered a small business enterprise in an eastern city, where she became affiliated with a local group of Christians.
Good language and poor language, smooth words and rough words, correct grammar and incorrect, all reach the ears of God. Some approach Him with culture and refinement, the evident marks of education. Others are uncouth in their manner and illiterate in their conversation. All of these, however, find a quick response from the Saviour, when once they seek His face and kneel at His feet as suppliants for mercy.
It was my privilege to visit a sanitarium in the West recently, wherein were a number of unhappy hearts in distress of soul. One of these was the secretary to the Chief of staff. She related a very sad story concerning the suicide of her father. She had been a careless girl, giving little attention to religious matters and had occupied herself with the work in the hospital. It was a joy to my heart to bring before her the invitation of Isaiah 55:1,3 -- "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. ... Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live."
The secretary turned from her typewriter and listened closely to the explanation of this passage of Scripture. It was a call to her own heart, for she had been wondering where her father had gone. Her soul was perplexed about her own future, and whether she would ever see her father again. She had avoided meeting with ministers, for religion had been distasteful to her; but she did, however, want the peace of mind and rest of heart which she knew could only be found in the faith of Jesus Christ.
As she spoke to me of her dislike for religion, I explained that I would not bring any matter of religion before her, but did wish to tell her of a Saviour and a burden bearer. "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14), "He it is who is calling you to come to Him and find that which will satisfy the hunger and thirst of your heart."
Some hope had been aroused in her heart by the word "come." She had not thought before that the Lord wanted her, or that the Lord would give her the blessing that her heart desired.
"I am a sinner," she confessed; "how can I come? He will only accept good people; He does not want sinners."
"Yes, He does want sinners," I assured her, "for He said, 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance' (Mark 2:17). Even the enemies of Christ said: 'This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them' (Luke 15:2). He wants you to come to Him just as you are. Do not the patients come to this hospital just as they are? Do they wait until they feel better, or until they are on the road to recovery before they consult the doctor?"
"Certainly not," she replied. "The worse the disease, the more quickly they come."
This argument was so plain and the logic so reasonable, that Mrs. W--- was moved at once to take Jesus Christ for herself. She bowed her head over the typewriter weeping, and at once accepted the Saviour and gave herself unreservedly to Him. We were alone in the office, and therefore I suggested that we pray together and thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His saving power and His wonderful welcome for another sinner. My friend did so, pouring out her heart in gratitude to Christ.
Just as we closed our prayer, the doctor arrived and took me away to show me through the building, and to introduce me to some of his patients. As I left the office, George, the young man who had charge of the mail and other activities about the sanitarium, entered the office for instructions and to obtain the outgoing mail. I did not see Mrs. W--- again until late in the evening, when she informed me that she had told George of the wonderful experience which had been hers that day. He could easily see the joy that had come into her life and the confidence with which she spoke about the Saviour.
"I believe that George would like to have you talk to him about his soul," she said to me, "but he is afraid to tell you. Can you not make it easy for him to approach you on the subject? He needs the Saviour just as I did."
Of course this was good news to me, and so I sought for him in the building, but found he had gone to the city for supplies, some miles away.
That evening, I retired early in the room assigned me, for I was weary with the long drive which I had made in the morning. As I was making preparations to retire, there came a knock at the door. Upon opening it, I saw my friend, George, standing there with his hat in his hand, seeking an interview. I invited him into the room, and said: "George, what is on your heart tonight? Let me help you with it."
This young man had been deprived of the benefits of a good education. His language was quite typical of the back woods. He used many slang expressions and words that we would not ordinarily use in our daily conversation. The reply he made to my inquiry was typical of this manner of life.
"Gee, doctor, I'm sure glad that you asked me in, 'cause I believe I need Jesus. I've been a terrible wicked boy, and never did nothin' for God or religion. Gee! I wonder if Jesus would save me?"
"What kind of patients does Dr. Shanklin take in this hospital?" I inquired.
"Why, anybody that comes," he answered. "We don't care how bad they be in here; we take 'em all, and I tell ya, doc, they sure get well when they come here."
"I am glad to hear that, George; I felt that it was so, for I have only heard good reports of the work of the surgeons in this place. Why not apply that same rule to your own self? You say you are very bad, and no doubt you are; but Christ Jesus came to save very wicked people. The worse the case, the more glory the Saviour gets when He saves that one."
"Gee! that's wonderful," he exclaimed. "Gee! I wonder if He would take me and make me a Christian? Gee! doc, I've sure been a bad one, but I sure don't want to go to hell. Gee! I wish I was saved."
His was a very real and deep interest. Although his language was so peculiar, his heart was ready for business. He really wanted peace in his soul. We knelt together beside my bed, opened the Bible, and I read in 1 Timothy 1:15 these words: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."
"Gee! how can he be the chief when I'm so bad? Was he worse than me? If Jesus could save him, sure He can save me."
"Well, let us read what the Scripture says about it, George. Put your finger on this verse again. Does it not say that He came to save sinners? That includes all kinds of sinners, just as the doctor takes all kinds of cases. Do the patients who come here help the doctor to operate on themselves?"
"No, sir, they do not," he answered quite emphatically. "Sometimes they try to help the doctor, so he gives 'em chloroform and puts 'em to sleep, so they can't help him."
"George," I answered, "that is just like the Lord Jesus; He wants to save you tonight all by Himself. Your case is a bad one, your sins are many, your guilt is written against you in heaven, but Christ has come to save you from it all."
I urged George as we knelt together to believe God's Word. I pointed out to him from Isaiah 53:5, that the Saviour had come to be punished for his sake and for his sins.
"If you will tell Him just now that you believe in Him, and will trust Him with your soul, you will become His patient at once and He will save you from your sins."
"Gee! I wish He would," he said. "Do you think He would listen to a sinner like me? Gee! I'm bad."
"Yes, He will hear you, George. Will you tell Him right now that you want Him and that you trust Him with your soul?"
He did not answer my question at once, but after remaining silent a few moments, he said: "Gee! Jesus, I'm coming to you right now. I'm awful bad and you ought to kick me out; but gee! I believe what the Bible says about you, that you take in sinners and forgive 'em and save 'em, and here I am, Jesus; will you save me?"
I whispered quietly in his ear: "Yes, He will save you, George, right now, if you will tell Him that you take Him and that you turn yourself and your sins over to Him."
He responded to this invitation and again said: "Jesus, would you save me if I would trust you? Gee! would you save me? I believe you will. I'll trust you. I believe you will save me right now, and gee! I thank you for it."
He remained bowed in silence for a few moments, and then turning to me, he said: "Gee! what wonderful peace I have in my heart. I believe all my sins are taken away. Gee! but I feel happy. Won't Mrs. W--- be glad when I tell her? Gee! I'll sure be glad to tell her, too."
He left me to go to his own room with a happy heart, while I knelt with deep thanksgiving because my Lord had found two more hearts in that sanitarium to worship Him.
You may come with any language -- just in your own words, and tell the Saviour that you want Him, that you take Him, that you trust Him, and then believe that He takes you. God bless you!
It is customary for the friends who visit the studios of our radio station to present themselves before the program begins, in order that the speaker may introduce those present. Upon one occasion, after the morning Bible lesson had already begun on the air, a police officer entered the studio. Being a very large man, possibly six foot four inches tall, his uniform accentuated his size. Listening very intently throughout the entire service, he introduced himself at the close as Officer Clark, mentioning that when he was off duty, he enjoyed listening to various radio programs, and particularly the morning Bible lesson.
Shortly after he departed, I approached the rack to get my hat, and noticed that it was gone and another left in its place. It then occurred to me that the officer who was wearing a soft Fedora hat when he came to the studio, had undoubtedly, in his haste, taken mine, which closely resembled his. The hat left for me was much too large for my head, and caused me to present a grotesque appearance as I walked down the street. This aroused not a little curiosity among my friends and drew forth a number of questions. The following morning, preceding my Bible lesson on the radio, I requested the police department and the chief of detectives to please institute a search for the officer who took away my hat and left his own, which was much too large for me.
Mr. Clark was at home, listening to the message. At once he called to his wife, and said, "Nellie, will you please go to the hat-rack and see whether I have my own hat or some other? The radio preacher is sending out a call for his hat and I rather think that I am the guilty man."
She soon called back to him, and said, "There is a hat here which does not belong to you. You must have taken it by mistake."
Officer Clark than explained to his wife that all day long this hat had felt rather strange on his head, and did not seem to fit as it should. It seemed that he was on night duty, and so during the daytime only he wore his soft hat. He had just returned from his night service, and had sat down to get the morning Bible lesson before retiring for his rest.
The radio message that morning was on the text: "Thou shalt not steal." I sought to impress upon the hearers the fact that we might steal many things from God, which in ordinary life are often overlooked. The soul that should belong to Him is kept from Him for personal gain and personal pleasure. The life that should be laid at His feet is devoted to a vain and fruitless search for profit and happiness without Him. The talents and gifts which should be used for the glory of God are used to promote personal aims and ends.
As the officer listened, his mind traveled over a life of some fifty-five years spent for the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Lord had received none of his time nor his money. His talents and energies had been expended for personal gain, and he had sought in every way to add to his pleasure and to increase his wealth. None of these plans, however, had been very successful, and now at the age of sixty-five, he found himself with a job, but with very little else.
The next morning, the officer presented himself at the studio rather early. He wanted to hear more of the message which had so deeply touched his heart. The lesson on this occasion concerned the confession of Christ before men. I used the illustration of the police officer, who by wearing his uniform and badge was daily confessing his position as a member of the department of justice. Everywhere he went, he was consciously and unconsciously telling the people what his position was and whom he served.
I also used the illustration of the soldier, who in his uniform bearing certain insignia, daily and constantly confessed in that way that he was no longer a free man, but had given himself entirely to the military department of his government. So the Christian, accepting Jesus Christ and putting on Jesus Christ, takes his place as a lover of the Saviour and one who has abandoned himself to the Son of God and to the service of the King.
This message stirred the heart of Officer Clark, clearing up in his mind some of the things which had been troubling him. He saw that salvation was not a religion, nor a system of good works. He realized for the first time that he was completely outside the family of God, as he had never yet confessed his faith and his confidence in Jesus Christ.
I sought to lead him to a decision just then in the radio room. It seemed, however, that he was not ready, therefore I seemingly failed in my effort. He left the studio, greatly troubled in soul and with a very heavy heart. Several days later, I rejoiced as I saw the officer entering the studio again, his happy countenance telling the story of a happier heart. After exchanging greetings, he related to me the following experience:
"After leaving you the other morning, I went home, ate breakfast and then went to my room. The Bible was a rather strange book to me, for I had never read it, and I had quite a little difficulty finding the Scriptures that you use. I read a great many passages but could get no peace, and finally retired for my sleep. Each morning since that time, I have listened to you, but none of the messages seemed to clear up my soul, nor did they show me how to find Christ.
"Your message yesterday morning, however, was exactly suited to my need. When you quoted your text: 'Enter into thy closet and pray,' I saw the mistake I had made and the hindrance. I had been thinking that it was necessary for me to make some show of my decision. I knew of no church to which I could go and make such a confession, for I belonged to none. I had been wondering also what the other fellows on the force would think of me if I became a Christian and confessed it to them.
"As these thoughts surged through my heart, I heard you say: 'My friend with a heavy heart, if you are listening this morning, will you not just now slip away alone with your Lord, and kneeling before Him, accept Him, and make Him the Lord of your life and the Saviour of your soul? Believe in His finished work on Calvary for you and trust the efficacy of His precious blood.'
"I arose at once and went into a large clothes-closet, where I knelt before the Lord and told Christ that I did believe in Him, and would just then accept Him for myself. I am sure that He took me, for He gave me the peace that my heart so long desired. I am so glad that He was willing to save me after so many years of indifference to His call. I am so glad that we had the mixup about the hats, because by this peculiar situation I was led to listen more closely and got to know you more intimately. I am sure that this broke down a little bit of opposition that was in my heart towards you and made it easier for me to believe the Bible."
Officer Clark is now in southern Kansas living for God, loving his Bible, and seeking to serve his Lord. We hope and pray that every police officer who reads this story will have a somewhat similar experience. Christ Jesus will save each one who seeks Him. Have you knelt at His cross and accepted Him for yourself? He will receive you and will not cast you out.
In the little village of Berwick, the folk were greatly stirred by the ministry given in the little frame schoolhouse. Night after night, the building was crowded to capacity with earnest men and women, mostly farmers, who rejoiced in hearing the story of God's redeeming grace. Among those who came were two families, who occupied front seats near the platform each night. During the early sessions, they manifested a deep desire to know more of the truth and to find the Saviour.
The congregation consisted largely of people who had not had the privilege of a college education, although they were not ignorant. They were earnest in their beliefs and energetic in their labors. They were not led to come to the service for foolish reasons, but were earnestly desiring help and blessing. No spirit of levity seemed evident during the services; still there existed a bright, happy spirit of confidence in God and of expectation, as we waited on Him for His blessing.
Charlie and Herman, accompanied by their wives night after night, came early to occupy their places and anxiously awaited the message. Although they listened intently as the speaker sought to stress the gospel in its simplicity, yet no blessing seemed to come to their hearts. Seemingly, they agreed with all that was said, but this belief did not impart to them the peace and the joy for which their hearts hungered. The preacher introduced many Scriptures and used simple illustrations in seeking to explain the gospel to them, and not a few angles of the gospel were presented in the hope and prayer that these four friends would see the virtue of the Saviour's person and work, and that they might be saved.
The speaker's heart was heavy, being burdened for these four friends who seemed to be seeking, and yet could not find. He reminded the Lord of His Word -- "Those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17). Here were 'seekers' according to the first part of the verse, but they should be 'finders' according to the second part of the verse. Certainly if these friends had an honest desire in their hearts to know the Lord and to be saved by Him, they would find a ready response on the part of the Lord who came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).
One particular portion of Scripture which the Holy Spirit brought to the heart of the minister was John 1:12. This promise has been much used of the Lord in delivering souls from darkness and bringing them into personal contact with the living Christ. The passage reads: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Our seeking friends who came early to the service, listened closely to every word of the text as it was read aloud, slowly and distinctly. Emphasizing the two words "Received Him," the speaker endeavored to <94> show that many in the schoolroom that night believed in George Washington, but had never received him. Others believed in Kaiser Wilhelm, but had not received him. Still others there were who believed in that great president, Theodore Roosevelt, and yet had not received him. There are many, he explained, who believe about Christ, believe that He lived and died, believe that He is God's Son, and yet have not "RECEIVED HIM" for themselves.
A difficulty presented itself because of the spiritual blindness with which the hearers seemed engulfed, for neither the illustrations nor the explanations seemed to meet the need of those darkened hearts. Apparently there was deep desire to know the divine truth, but their inability to grasp it was distressing to the heart of the one who sought to unfold the precious gospel and to reveal the living Christ to their hearts. The speaker was led to pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit might speak through his lips the life-giving Word. Referring to John 3:16, he explained that this gift which God had given, the gift of His only begotten Son, must be definitely accepted by each individual person, ere Christ would become his own personal Saviour. He read also Matthew 11:28, and sought to show that the burdened heart may and must come to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; there he will find a welcome, and salvation for his soul. In explaining John 7:37, he again called attention to the invitation extended by Christ for thirsty hearts to come to Him and find the satisfaction they sought.
Near the platform on the right side, stood a bookcase upon which there had been placed a vase for flowers. Being empty, it was easy to pick it up and use it as an illustration. The preacher took the vase in his hand and addressing the audience, said: "Let us suppose for a moment that some of you friends in the room tonight have a very bad cough. You have sent for me, as a physician, to come to you and to prescribe for you the necessary remedy. Allowing this vase to represent the bottle in which I will place the medicine, I will compound the prescription carefully, using only drugs that are fresh and potent. The combination will be of such a character as to loosen the mucus in the lungs, relieve the nervous paroxysms and support the heart. Assuming you friends will agree that the physician is dependable and trustworthy, and that the medicine offered is the proper remedy for the trouble, I will now place it on the table here before me and see what the effect will be upon those who have the cough. Do you think that the medicine will stop the cough and help the patient?"
The speaker hesitated a moment, observing the effect of the illustration upon the audience. Suddenly the stillness of the room was broken, as a small boy in the rear of the room arose and spoke out suddenly and loudly, "NOT UNLESS YOU TAKE IT." His intense earnestness stirred the audience to alertness and the peculiar fitness of the answer was quite obvious.
The preacher's attention was directed to the four friends on the front seat. They seemed quite moved and for a moment a deep perplexity seemed to possess them, only to disappear in another moment, allowing the light of the Lord to envelop their faces. They agreed that the medicine would do no good while it remained in the bottle, and they realized that one could not take it for another, but that each one must take it for himself. Needing no further help from the pastor, each one of the four promptly accepted Jesus Christ, and joy and peace filled their hearts. The answer of the boy, together with the illustration, were used of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to their hearts.
The close of the meetings brought a time of great rejoicing. These two friends with their wives had also witnessed others of their relatives and friends put their trust in the Saviour, since many prayers had gone up to God that they, too, might be saved. Now the answer of peace had come. They had taken Christ and Christ had taken them.
This rich blessing will be yours, too, my friend, if you by faith will receive Jesus Christ for yourself, and let Him be the Lord of your life and the Saviour of your soul.
In the center of the old gray prison-yard, stands a brick building which has been converted into a chapel. It will seat about eight hundred men, and is often filled when men of God from time to time bring to these inmates the message of salvation.
One Sunday afternoon, on a dark and dreary day as the rain was falling, the men congregated in the auditorium to hear a message from the Word of God. The negro prisoners sat on one side of the center aisle and near the front. There were perhaps two hundred of these, the white prisoners filling up the remainder of the room.
In one corner, near the platform, a choir arose to sing, as each hymn was announced. Strangely enough, in the choir there were groups from both the white and the colored races. Some were old and some young, but all dressed alike in prison garb. A group of Christians assembled themselves on the platform, prepared to render the service of prayer or song, or the ministry of the Word, as the leader might request.
As the meeting progressed and the time came for the sermon, I announced that the subject for the hour would be found in Matthew 11:28 -- "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." One of the prisoners in the colored section, I observed, was paying very close attention. He heeded not those at his side, who at times were joking and calling attention to the peculiarities of other prisoners; but his attention was riveted altogether upon the minister and his message.
The earlier part of the sermon was devoted to the preceding verse, in which the Lord Jesus said, "All things are delivered unto me." I called attention to the fact that what they had tried to obtain in the paths of sin, they could receive as a gift from Christ Jesus the Lord. They were reminded that because the heart is hungry for many things, God gave Christ to supply that hunger and to satisfy every craving of the heart.
Frequently during this part of the message, Weir was seen to hang his head, as though agreeing with the fact, and remembering with sorrow his path of sin. He had found that the "way of the transgressor is hard." His life had not been an easy one, having been cast upon his own resources for some years. Although he seemed to be not over thirty-five years of age, yet in those few years he had seen much of sorrow and sin.
Far distant, in western Kansas, Weir had been arrested upon a rather serious charge, and being without friends or money, was soon sentenced to serve a term in the state penitentiary. Having been an inmate in the prison for three years at the time of this incident, he would soon be eligible for parole, although he realized that when he was paroled he would be expelled from the country as an alien. In his young manhood, he had stolen away from Liberia, NW Africa, and made his way on a tramp steamer to the great United States, because he had heard that gold lay in the streets and wealth was the portion of all who came. Such was his hallucination and his subsequent disappointment, that for a livelihood he resorted to the business of robbing by day and by night, which of course led to his final apprehension.
As the sermon continued and verse twenty-eight was explained in detail, Weir realized that Christ was calling him to Himself. It was not religion he needed, but Christ, who alone could satisfy his restless, sinful heart. The "ALL" was stressed, and he realized that it included him. "Come unto me, ALL ye that labor and are heavy laden," appealed to his heart as a personal invitation for him to come to Christ with his sins and his sorrows. He had been seeking peace for many years, being heavy laden with the guilt and sorrow of a life of disobedience; wanting rest and surely needing rest.
When the invitation was given, Weir did not immediately respond. He remained seated, unable even to indicate that he would like to come to the Saviour and trust in the efficacy of His precious blood. Others professed to make Christ their own, but we were disappointed in Weir, for he did not come and would not accept the Saviour. Ours was a feeling of grief and disappointment over his failure to respond, for he seemed to be the most interested one in the congregation; and to all outward appearance, he listened with intelligence and seemingly understood the message as it was presented.
At the close of the address, the guards dismissed the prisoners, and immediately they formed in line to return to the cell houses. In one of these lines stood Weir Seir with bowed head. He passed out with the crowd, and we returned to the city to pray that the Holy Spirit would finish in that dark heart the good work which He had begun. After a few days, I found it necessary to go to the Pacific Coast and left word in my office that personal mail be forwarded. Two days following my arrival at my destination, I received a letter from Weir in which he related the wonderful story of his meeting with the Lord in his cell.
As soon as he left the chapel that Sunday afternoon, he had gone to his cell, took his Testament and found Matthew 11:27-28, which he read while kneeling beside his bunk. His burdened heart yearned for that Saviour, and his guilty soul wanted to hear the Judge say, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." He said to Christ: "You told me to come, and I am coming right now. You said you would give me rest, and I have come for it. I believe you do have everything I need, and that you will pardon and forgive me right now. Here I am, Lord; I accept you and I give myself to you." What peace and joy filled his heart, only his own lips could tell! The burden rolled away and was lost at the foot of the Cross.
Shortly after this happy meeting with his Lord, the warden sent word to Weir that he was eligible for parole if he wished to apply for such, having served the required time. So great was the change in Weir's life, that it was quite noticeable to the other prisoners, who began to call him nicknames, such as "The Parson," "The Preacher," "The Good Man," etc. Not only were scoffers attracted to him, but others with hungry hearts and darkened minds sought him out to find the way of salvation. When word reached him that he might apply for parole, he asked for and received permission to see the warden personally. There in the warden's office, he related the story of his conversion and requested permission to remain the full length of his term, in order that he might be of the greatest possible help to those with whom he was associated.
The warden granted Weir's strange request, and during the remainder of his term, the Lord blessed his testimony to many hearts. When he was finally discharged from the prison, having completed his full time, a government officer met him at the gate of the prison and informed him that he was to be deported as an undesirable alien. Weir had never been naturalized, therefore the government sent him back to Liberia, -- a procedure which is constantly followed with aliens who receive prison terms.
Weir rejoiced in this procedure, and wrote me a wonderful letter of thanksgiving to God for the privilege of returning to his native land with his fare all paid, a new suit of clothes, and with some money in his pocket which had been given him by the government authorities. In Liberia today, Weir Seir is preaching Christ, teaching the Bible, and winning souls for his Lord and Saviour. In one of his messages, he said: "How I thank God that He permitted me to be put in prison. While I roamed around the United States, no one cared for my soul; no one spoke to me of Christ. In the prison, however, the Lord sent His servant with the message of salvation, and I heard of Jesus Christ who loved me in spite of my sins, and saved me both from the penalty and the power of my wickedness."
Let me urge every friend to read carefully Matthew 11:27-28, and see if you, too, may not find there the rest and the peace which Christ so freely gives.
A young lad who had passed the fifteenth milestone of life's journey by only a few months, sought to work his way through school by means of carrying the daily newspaper. On the particular day of this story's inception, the young fellow, after covering his route and eating his supper, proceeded to the yard and began to cut the grass with the lawn-mower.
The evening was perfect in its setting -- the weather being warm --and was typical of those proverbial June days when the fragrance of Spring permeates the air. While the lad's mother sat in the front yard sewing in the twilight, an elderly gentleman drove along the street with a horse and surrey and called to the mother, "Would you not like to attend a gospel service tonight which is being held in a tent on Flint Street? Perhaps your son would like to go with you. I will take you there and bring you back in my buggy."
Of course, the lad was none too eager to cut the grass, and grasped at the opportunity of having a "night out" in this novel fashion. Upon learning of the boy's desire to go, the mother agreed to accompany the neighbor and both prepared for the trip, eager to hear the gospel.
The father of this young man was a preacher of the old school. His had been a very fruitful ministry in the states of Indiana and Ohio. In his home life, he had sought to make known the gospel to the children and always insisted that they attend Sunday school and church services. However, none of this ministry had been the means of reaching the heart of the newsboy. He attended the services regularly, boasted in his belief of the Bible from cover to cover, and loved to hear it taught.
The life of Lewis -- the subject of this story -- was not exemplary. Often he merited and received severe discipline in his home, because of an uncontrolled temper and much selfishness. At the church, he was quite religious, taking the place of an outstanding Christian among the young people. His life before the public was more or less attractive, many friends being won by his amiable character and willingness to serve. But in the home and in his private life, Satan seemed to rule. Many evil habits gripped his heart and controlled his life, when not directly in the public eye.
The lad experienced times of deep anxiety of heart, because of the bondage which these sins frequently caused. On certain occasions, he would pray at the bedside for such a length of time that his brother would shake him, trying to arouse him from a supposed sleep. He would strive to drown the memory of his sins by reading the Bible at some length. On those days when sin particularly annoyed him and had the victory over him, he would take part of his savings and present them as an extra offering to the Lord in the church fund. He had a different price for different sins. When certain sins were committed, he would contribute to the church an extra 15 cents. Other sins seemed more terrible, and for them he would give 25 cents extra to the cause of the Lord. Such was the darkness of the lad's heart, even though raised in a preacher's family and in the church environment.
Upon one occasion, as a punishment for much disobedience, Lewis' mother made him polish the stove in the sitting room. While thus seated on the floor, engaged in polishing the base of the stove, his father, the minister, passed through the room and remarked: "Lewis, you profess to be a Christian; you make more of a pretense at it than any of the other boys; but in spite of this, you seem to be the worst of them all. I wish you were a real, true Christian."
This statement pierced the boy's heart like a sword. He, too, had earnestly desired to be a real Christian. He felt that there was something in Christianity he did not possess, and yet he was ignorant of the fact that a greater blessing was available than that which he had already claimed.
While in this frame of mind, the youthful paper carrier gladly accepted the invitation to accompany his mother and the neighbor to the place where he would hear something that might clear up the darkness of his heart, and thus relieve the distress of his soul. Arriving at the tent where the meetings convened, they found about two hundred people congregated to listen to the speakers -- two Scotchmen, who expounded the Scriptures and explained the passages as Lewis had never heard them before. The text for the evening was Romans 4:5 -- "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." This was a new truth to Lewis -- one he had never heard before, and as the speakers unfolded the passage, it was quite apparent that the lad's heart was deeply touched.
Returning home, the mother and son reviewed the sermon together. "I do not believe that there is any verse like that in my Bible, mother," he said. "I never heard of anyone being forgiven without his working for it. Let us get our Bibles, mother, and see if they read like his."
Obtaining them, they found that the verse read just the same in their Bibles as it read in the one which the preacher used. Lewis then retired to his room to get the lessons for the day following, for he was a sophomore in the C--- High School.
There was not much rest for the lad that night, for the preacher had emphasized the word "not" in the text and it was impressed deeply on his heart. The Holy Spirit was working, showing the boy that all of his efforts to be good were of no avail in the salvation of his soul.
The following evening, the Christian neighbor drove by again with another invitation for them to hear the Scotch preachers, and found the mother and son quite ready to attend the service. The text that evening was taken from Ephesians 2:8-9. The messenger stressed again the word "NOT" as he read, clearly and distinctly: "Not of works, lest any man should boast." He explained how impossible it is for a guilty sinner to clear himself of his wickedness. He described also the foolishness of the man, who being condemned and in the cell, sought by good works and good intentions to remove his condemnation, and thus to clear the records of his sinful deeds.
Again, the lad and his mother returned home to consider with profound amazement this remarkable passage and the explanation given by the minister. More and more, Lewis saw that his religious performances had no weight with God. He well remembered that through his four or five years' experience in his religious exercises, no good had been accomplished and no light had entered his soul. Frequently, he had been tempted to throw the whole business overboard and live out-and-out for the devil. The fear of future judgment and punishment were the only restraining forces which prevented his giving himself over completely to the world and turning his back on that which gave him no peace and answered none of his heart cries and yearnings.
The following night, they again attended the meeting in the tent, to hear for the third time a message on the same subject, but taken from Titus 3:5 -- "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." That word "not" again presented itself vividly to the mind of Lewis, as he listened to the fervent, earnest message of the Scotsman. It rang in his ears and sank into his soul: "Not by works of righteousness"; "NOT by works of righteousness"; "NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH WE (I) HAVE DONE." His soul was in a turmoil. Formerly, he believed that the works of righteousness done in the Sunday school and in the young people's society were meritorious, and surely would be the means of obtaining favor with God. Being active in the church, he was frequently asked to put on a "clown" act in some show for the church, or to solicit money for the church debt.
The three Scriptures used in the three messages which he had heard, convinced Lewis that all of his religious activities left him as a lost sinner, without God and without hope. As the fourth night rolled around, Lewis was again found at the tent listening intently to a message from Isaiah 64:6 -- "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." That sermon completely removed every vestige of hope that remained in his heart. All of his hopes for eternity were based on his religious and righteous acts. If his works of righteousness were as filthy rags in God's sight, what must his sins be like? If the best that he had done was only an abomination to God, what must the Lord think of his sins? These thoughts occupied his mind and soul. He was at his wits end. He saw that what he possessed was rejected by the Lord, but he did not yet see that all he needed could be found in Christ.
The special meetings came to an end and Lewis was not yet saved. He disputed in his mind with the truth that he had learned, and stubbornly refused to acknowledge that he was as bad as the preacher indicated. He would not take the place of being utterly lost, but rather thought there might be some development in his character which would enable him to be worthy of heaven. Thus the summer passed, but the impressions received at the tent remained.
Another meeting was announced for December, and Lewis planned to attend. The first service was held on Sunday night. The messenger's text was John 3:16. For the first time, it became clear to the young man that Christ Jesus is the Saviour; He must do all of the saving. We cannot help Him nor add to <106> the value of either His person or His work by our religious activities. The message made a deep impression on the heart of Lewis, and he left the building determined to have the matter settled that night.
During the four-mile walk home after the meeting, our young friend found plenty of time for meditation. Having reached the corner where two main highways met, he found a bench, seated himself, and pondered over the decision which he knew he must make. Would he take Christ and receive eternal life, or would he go on with the world in his sins and still rely upon a smattering of religion to sweeten the path? As he thus meditated over the possibilities, the Holy Spirit brought to his mind Colossians 2:14 -- "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."
For the first time, the truth that Christ Jesus had borne his sins on Calvary was revealed to the heart of this seeking sinner. The blessed, watchful Spirit also brought to his mind the verse of a hymn, which Lewis repeated aloud to himself:
"Payment God will not twice demand, First at my bleeding surety's hand, And then again at mine."
Rising to his feet, Lewis turned his gaze to the starry heavens, saying: "Lord Jesus, I will take you. I believe you did bear my sins on Calvary, and that you blotted them out. I thank you that my sins are gone and that you are my own Saviour." The burden rolled away, and Lewis now belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ. With a light heart and a buoyant step, the homeward journey was resumed.
May the telling of this story encourage many another young man to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. As you trust in that Saviour who is at the right hand of God, He will be the Lord of your life and the Redeemer of your soul.