GOD’S UNFAILING WORD.
Some few years ago a Christian lady, having decided that she ought to try and put into practice her faith in the efficacy of God’s Word to bring souls into the true light – that she ought to work as well as pray for her Jewish acquaintances – bought some marked New Testaments to circulate among some of the Jewish ladies in her town.
Several of these little books had gone out with kind personal notes inside them, and one day the last of the first series was ready. The lady started on her errand, but the Lord interposed and turned aside her footsteps. Apparently it was just a friend’s need of a walk along the sea coast that took her in another direction. In reality, the Master of her life was sending her whither He would. The walk lengthened beyond her strength, so bidding her friend “good-bye,” she sat down in a shelter on the sea front to rest awhile. Only one other person sat there with her, and that one was sitting white and still with closed eyes. A few moments passed in awed silence, then the tired lady timidly inquired: “Are you ill? Can I do anything for you?’
The eyes opened; they were dark and despairing; the lips moved, and a voice, hollow and sad, said: “Yes, I am ill – I am dying, but no one can help me with that.”
Swift as thought, came the gentle answer, “Christ only; but what a comfort that He can!”
Suddenly new life seemed to vibrate through the frail form. Anger that almost paralysed her hearer, rang in the scornful tones of the stranger; the dark eyes blazed with brilliancy. “Do not mention THAT name to me! The imposter! The enemy of our race! The accursed one!” With each nerve throbbing from anxiety to help, the Christian woman paused, uncertain how to answer. Close to her was one near to another world; she dare not lose the opportunity; nevertheless this bitter animosity seemed to freeze the words upon her tongue.
Falteringly, she began: “Have you ever read the New Testament?” “NEVER!” came the sharp response in the same scathing accents.
“Is this quite fair? To us who know the Book and love it, your conduct seems like condemning a person unheard. You are dying, you say – the New Testament tells of a beautiful life beyond this. Oh! do read it” – holding it out to her. A strange expression flitted over the sick woman’s face. “What do you know about dying?” she said. “You are in good health and strength. Stand where I do, then you will know.
Again the tragic notes thrilled the listener’s heart. “I do not yet know what death is,” she said, tenderly; “but I know something of life. I have had some heavy trials to live through – trials which I could not have borne without my Saviour’s help. I could not live without Him, so I could not dare face death without Him. But as He is sufficient for life, I am sure He will be for death. Oh! do read about Him.” And again she held out the small parcel.
A weird smile lightened up the sad, thin face. “Well, nothing can hurt me now. At any rate you mean well.” And the Jewess took the packet, slipping it into her bag by her side. Just then another lady hurried up. Noticing only the invalid, she placed her arm around her, and taking up her bag, guided her across the road into a house on the other side. The inspired volume had started on its mission.
A year went by, and again the Christian lady was on the sea-front. As she walked along, someone eyed her curiously, but with an unfriendly gaze which made her feel uncomfortable, though she knew not why. Turning to retrace her steps, they again met, and this time the other paused, asking, abruptly: “Are you Miss-?” “Yes.” “Then I have a message to give you. Do you remember giving a New Testament to a sick lady in a shelter here a year ago?” “Yes.” “Well, she is dead. As she was dying, I promised her if I ever met you I would tell you that she died in peace, trusting in your Jesus Christ. I was a fool to promise her. I did it, and I have kept my word; but I curse you for giving the book to her; you have destroyed her soul.” She was turning to go when the Christian lady stopped her. “The Testament – where is that?” “I have it. I promised her to keep it; but no one shall ever see it – it shall do no more harm.” Quickly she walked away, leaving no chance of an answer; and her hearer went home, so shadowed by the terrible looks and words of hatred, that for days she could hardly give thanks for the precious soul that had been redeemed and was in glory.
Many months sped on their way, marked only by the silent prayer for that Jewish sister, still in darkness. Then one morning a letter arrived in a strange hand-writing with a strange post-mark. It was brief and unsigned. It said, “Your Jewish sister thanks and blesses you. I, too, have read that New Testament, and found the true Messiah. Pray that I may be faithful, all here are against me, especially my husband. He has taken the book from me – pray for him also. Yours in the love of Christ.”
More months sped away – then another message came. “When this reaches you I shall be with my precious sister before the throne. I am dying as she did of consumption, but I want you to know that I have been kept true, and that I have my dear copy of the New Testament again. Last week my husband gave it to me. He has said no word, but he is all kindness and love. I asked him if he had read it; he only said: ‘Ask no questions,’ so I am praying on in hope. Continue your prayers for him.” Day by day that request was complied with, though the petitioner knew neither the name or the abode of the one for whom she prayed. But the Hearer of prayer knew, and sent one more answer. Two texts of Scripture written on a card came in a foreign envelope. One of them was:
“My word shall not return unto me void,” a text which speaks convincingly of the hidden power which lives in the inspired Word of Divine Truth.
The future of the Book whose work has been described is known to Israel’s Redeemer alone. This little story of its past service is published to cheer the hearts of those who are lovingly “sowing the seed beside all waters.”
Thou canst not toil in vain,
Cold, heat, and moist and dry
Shall nurture and mature the grain,
For garners in the sky.
H. S. T.