Friday, May 30, 2008

The Artist and the Gypsy Girl

Many years ago the artist Stenburg stood in his Dusseldorf studio. He had just promised to provide a painting of the crucifixion for a church building. It was to be a masterpiece,and he would be paid a big price for his work.

In the weeks that followed, Stenburg searched out all he could of the facts of the death of Jesus. He was talented; he was famous; he was becoming wealthier every year. But Stenburg did not have peace.

The first brushful of color touched the canvas, then another, and another. One day the cross stood stark and upright on Calvary's hill. Day after day Stenburg's brush caressed the canvas.

Then suddenly he was tired. "I'll forget this," he declared. "I'll walk out to the country and sketch."

It was spring and the woods were green. At the edge of the forest Stenburg stopped. There a gypsy girl plaited a straw basket. Blue-black hair reached her waist; her red dress was faded and torn. Her eyes were black, large and restless.

"What a painting!" thought Stenburg.

The girl stared up at the artist. She smiled, threw her straw down, sprang up and raised her hands high above her head, twirling and dancing gaily in front of him.

"Stand," cried Stenburg. The girl dropped her arms. "This week you must come to my studio; I'll paint you."

"But, Signor," the girl said shyly, "I'm only a poor gypsy girl."

"Come," he said. And she came, in her red dress, with her hair tucked back with a flower. Stenburg was ready. "Stand! Sit!" he commanded.

Pepita had never been in an artist's studio before. Her questions amused Stenburg. But suddenly her eyes stopped at the painting of the crucifixion. It was almost completed.

"Who is it?" She asked.

"The Christ," the artist said carelessly.

"But what are they doing to Him?"

"Crucifying Him," he answered.

"But who are those cruel people?"

Stenburg threw his brush down. "Now look here," he said. "You stand there.......
still....... and do not move your lips to speak.

Pepita closed her lips. But her eyes never left the crucifixion.

Posing for the day was over. At the door, Pepita stopped. "Was He bad?" she asked.

"No, no; very good," Stenburg said. "Remember! Be here the day after tomorrow."

Each day that she came, she asked another question. "If He was good, why did they do it?"

Stenburg tipped his head to one side. "Listen! I will tell you once for all." Hurriedly, he repeated the facts of Christ's death, and as he talked he saw her black eyes fill with tears.

One day, both paintings were finished - the one of the crucifixion and the Spanish dancing girl. For the last time Pepita came to the studio. When she saw herself on the canvas, she clapped her hands with pleasure. Then she walked over to the other painting and stood silently. She turned to Stenburg. "You must love Him very much, Signor, when He has done all that for you; do you not?" Then she was gone.

Stenburg stood looking after her; but the street noises refused to drown out the sound of Pepita's voice: "Love Him very much when He has done so much for you."

All week he heard the question: "You must love Him very much, do you not?" His restlessness, his dissatisfaction grew. He could stand no more. He tried going to church, and the vicar gave him absolution. "All will be well," he said, but when Stenburg left his heart was still tormented.

He determined to present his masterpiece to the church at a fraction of its cost. He found the vicar and told him his decision. "For what you have done," said the vicar, "God be with you." But even such a wonderful gift as this brought him no peace. Stenburg knew God was not with him. All that was with him was the question: "You must love Him very much, do you not?"

He walked night and day up and down the streets of Dusseldorf, trying to shake off his sadness of spirit, but in vain. One night he idly watched a group of people hurrying through a low doorway. It was curious, he thought, that the people who entered looked so happy.

One day Stenburg decided to go to the house. He entered and sat down with the happy people. He listened to the preacher, a man who seemed to have found what Stenburg was looking for. That night Stenburg found the answer to the restlessness in his life. No church-going, no gift was enough! Jesus Christ had died on the cross
for Stenburg; and at last the artist could say, "And how much I love Him!"

The next morning, he could not keep this joy to himself. "How can I tell others?" he asked himself. "I can paint," he said with decision.

And soon a great masterpiece was presented to the Dusseldorf gallery for every visitor to see, a sermon for all to hear.

One day he found in front of his picture a girl, weeping. She turned, and it was Pepita. "It is you, Signor," she cried out. "Oh, Signor,
if He had but loved me so!"

They both sat in front of the painting and he told her the story of that wondrous death, and the glorious resurrection. "For all men, for the gypsies, for everyone-Christ Jesus has suffered and bled on the cross. All this He did
for thee, Pepita."

The gypsy girl was quiet. Then she looked up. "I believe it," she said simply.

Two years later Pepita died, trusting in Jesus. Her last words were, "All this I did for thee."

"The Son of God, who loved me,
and gave Himself for me."

Galatians 2:20

The artist grew older. Eventually, he must put his brush aside. Dusseldorf lost its artist, but the painting still hung for all to see.

Years later, a young German nobleman wandered into the gallery and stopped in front of the Stenburg masterpiece. He read the words on the frame. "All this I did for thee. What hast thou done for Me?"

Hours passed. That night the young count made a decision. That Nobleman was Zinzendorf. In Dusseldorf he decided to give his life to answering the question under the Stenburg painting.

The gallery burned years ago, and with it the famous canvas. But the question for everyone - for you, dear reader, for me - remains the same. "All this I did for thee. What has thou done for Me?"

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
1 Timothy 1:15

"The blood of Jesus Christ... cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:9

(BTP #1085)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Survived! (A follow up to the 'Nerves' post)

Well, I made it. To those of you who prayed for me, thank you very very much.

Grandma C. came over ten minutes early just as we were finishing up our morning bible reading, and then she helped me get the kids dressed so we could leave when we were supposed to leave. I felt silly needing to be driven because I felt perfectly fine, but it gave me time to chatter my last trepidations away before I actually saw the dentist.

I walked into the dentist office, and the receptionist greeted me with, "Hi, how are you doing?" to which I replied, "slightly terrified, but I sure I shouldn't be." Then she continued, "How are you feeling otherwise? Do you notice the 'drowsy drug'?" "I feel fine." I said "in fact, I felt a little silly needing to have someone drive me." She looked at me a bit quizzically and asked me when I'd taken the medication in discussion. I told her I'd taken it perhaps two minutes later than I should have, but didn't see how that would have been a problem. I had set a timer so I wouldn't get sidetracked and take it terribly late. And the only thing I did after the timer went off before I took the pill, was to wash one more kid face.

The receptionist looked a little puzzled, and repeated everything to the first hygienist that walked by and they decided that I should take the second pill that I was to have brought with me. I did and they said that I should soon be feeling properly woozy. Right. I think Adrenaline had a little wrench wedged in, because the worst effect I had was feeling like my right eye had gone a little lazy. Even though they waited another 20 minutes for pill#2 to kick in, I was perfectly aware of every little thing going on throughout the entire procedure, and I even asked questions when the wedge was removed from my mouth after hand signals weren't working.

This meant that I still felt as if my jaw was being pried apart as they jiggled and wiggled and pried at my teeth. And I could feel a small degree of pain which was not a good thing since I was jumpy enough from surprise noises. They did apply more numbing stuff at one point (probably because I was jumping a little more than usual then), but over all the dentist was really great. He would predict what I might feel or notice, so it wouldn't be too much of a surprise. And that was much appreciated by me because I was really trying to hold still. Although, at the painful parts, even if I could manage to keep my head from moving, my hands were shaking, and I had a little difficulty breathing calmly. But it's over now and at this moment I feel ok - it's just a little painful to swallow and my cheeks are tender to touch.

Right after the appointment I really started to hurt. My jaw ached like crazy, but Grandma C. stopped by my house so I could run in and get the antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pills and then we went to her house where she could keep an eye on me for the first hour or so. I even took some Tylenol 3's I'd grabbed when we stopped at home, but I think they were so old they weren't doing any good. The only thing that was even remotely helping was the ice pack. After the first hour in which Grandma C. fed my children lunch, she packed all them all up again, and drove me home where I could be miserable in peace and quiet. She also gave me another type of painkiller that was a lifesaver.

I refilled my ice bag, and after 20 minutes of taking Grandma C's pain medication, I felt like I might be able to possibly go to sleep where I could ignore the rest of the pain. And I did. When I woke up I felt like a different person, but a very hungry different person. So, I grabbed a milkshake and sat down to write this update, and now I'm going to go refill my ice bag again and go back to bed.

All in all, I made it. I survived something I've been terrified of for years and years. But I'm really thankful it's a one time ordeal!!!


For me, writing relieves stress a little. Usually that kind of writing doesn't show up here, but today I don't have time for paper and ink. Typing is much faster, and I'm not 'cooling off' this time, but rather attempting to talk myself into relaxing a bit. And it's so much easier to tap on my 'delete' key.

Anyway, in just over two hours I'm supposed to get four teeth pulled. You know, the ones that are supposed to make one so wise and all? - they don't seem to be working for me... so why keep them? Actually, they've needed to come out for more than ten years and I've put it off again and again and again (and if I had the energy, I would have put it off one more time). See, when I was twelve, I saw the dentist and he took x-rays. Then he told me that my wisdom teeth were going to be a problem and would need to come out as soon as they had finished growing their roots. He said I should come back when I was 18 or so, and that would be that.

But I didn't go back until I was 21 and the dentist took x-rays again. Sadly shaking his head he said, "You should have come back a few years ago- your wisdom teeth should be out, and now one of them is very close to a main nerve." He went on to terrify me (probably not entirely intentionally) with the horrors of the exact closeness part of the root was to the nerve and to tell me how if the nerve was touched it could be damaged and my jaw could be numb for a year or maybe even more. As for the rest of the teeth... well, they were so impacted they'd never be able to come in all the way if they even tried. And he was right. I have two teeth partially in and very much sideways running into the sides of my mouth and the bottom two (including my happy little 'nerve-touching-tooth' cannot emerge since they can't clear the curve of my jaw-bone.

I know this is probably all just worrying for nothing, but I do not remember the last time I was more apprehensive of something. Not even anticipating the birth of my first baby. I'm not worried about it being painful, I'm not worried about swelling up and looking funny for a week (I already look funny). I'm worried about hearing my tooth come out. Or it being crunched up so the pieces can come out (Thanks Sir for that lovely description 5 years ago... it's not helping me here.) And I'm worried about that nerve being damaged and having a numb jaw for a long time or possibly permanently (I know it's probably not that bad... but 6 years ago the root was very very close to that nerve)

Well, I should go do something to get my mind off of this subject. My imagination is not an invalid and can get very carried away with me. And I have an hour to kill before I take the first 'drowsy drug' (something the dentist prescribed for me to take before the procedure so would be a 'little bit out of it'. Humph! I hope 'a little bit' is enough. When I scheduled this appointment, I was partly under the impression that I'd be a little bit more 'out of it', but when you're breastfeeding there's only so many options I guess.

Besides, there's always work to do around here, and the faster I work the more empty my stomach will be and the better the 'drowsy drug' will work. Well, I definitely wouldn't have gotten all of the above 'said' if I had tried hand writing it this morning! And aside from a little girl asking me what we have to do so we're ready for Grandma C. to come get us, there's a little boy climbing into my lap to convince me he needs to be fed. I am needed elsewhere!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Solved! ... after seven years.

Seven years ago, (as of March 27th) Sir sent me C-12. It was the twelfth code to be cracked by one of us, and it was also the last. Twenty minutes into the 8th year of having C-12 in my possession, I finally solved it! Two minutes later I started writing this post, and that gives you an idea of how long it's taken me to get back to this!

Let me take you back a few years where I can explain...

Way back even before our friendship transformed into a courtship, Sir and I e-mailed each other. One day I was feeling rather more mischievous than usual and wrote up a code that I included in my e-mail. Of course I would give no clues and poor Sir was in the middle of his college final exams. It took him four days to crack my code and to send an encoded reply. He also sent a code of his own and that was the beginning of the code wars. Sir's code was more complicated than mine had been, and once I'd solved it, I would reply and send an even harder one. Finally we had reached C-12. And I was just about stumped - well, I was stumped, but I never dreamed of admitting defeat and surrendering and Sir wasn't about to give me any clues.

I kept scratching away at solving C-12, but as time and our relationship progressed, code-cracking became much less of a priority. And in the whirl of romance, engagement, the wedding and newly married life, the codes were nearly forgotten. Well, they were forgotten until I decided it was time to go through the boxes of junk, keepsakes and miscellaneous collections, in hopes of making our storage shed more of a storage shed rather than an attic-like collection of nobody-knew-what.

Due to damp weather, much of the paper was ruined and before throwing it out I went through every little piece. The un-salvageable things were photographed first and the nonsense was just tossed, but the memories were incredible. When I got to a file of my codes and my attempts at solving Sir's codes I remembered C-12. Sure enough it was there - still unsolved. And in my curiosity, I stopped my sorting to research how long I'd had that last code. To my surprise I had one month and two days left before the 7th anniversary.

I asked Sir to re-send it to me two days later, and I spent what time I could spare during that last month, working on the solution. I wanted to solve it by the anniversary of when I'd first received it, and did I ever have to scramble! On the very last night, I spent about four hours working on it after the kids went to bed, and I missed my deadline by 20 minutes! Well, I had solved how it was encoded, but I was still trying to convert it into English and didn't finish that until 12:20, March 28th.

It was a brilliant code, but what do you expect when you have a genius for a husband? Here's the code, and to make it easier for anyone who wants to try cracking it, I'll even included it in English. Have fun!


Mwahahahahaha, J ydw phttuu iz lotmmts brat vz iyxx xx this is no
tpa rt oft heencod. Edmessa, gexx xx nhy raxzbp brat (h-hahaha).
Wmjr siy, ioi is brat gy eaul mtwqhf cpdo zvdcj-vlu brat. :P

4(90).10-7,7-2-10-3-15-63-15-86-3. :P

C-12 in English

"Unfortunately, I was unable to compose this in time to give it to you at the wedding. Anyways, this is the latest code (c-twelve). Have fun, and be sure to take longer than forty-six days. :P"

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Explorer's Last Words

He was found dead in a lonely hut, with a dish, which he had used for a desk, across his knees. In his skeleton hand was the following letter, which he was evidently writing when death overcame him.

"The sun is shining, Mother, but I feel so cold. I can still walk a little, but that's about all. There is no blood in me, because I have not eaten for so long. I haven't seen another human being for forty days now. There are some magazines here, but
the stories are so silly. I have some cards, but I don't care for solitaire. The only thing I worry about is if God will forgive my sins."

Thus ended the career of a young explorer at Long Rapids, Hay River, Alberta, Canada. He was about to leap into the dark as far as his eternity was concerned.

Who can help feeling a throb of sympathy for this young man, perishing alone, afraid of meeting God? Reader, some day you too will have to meet God. Perhaps your deathbed may be much different from that of this young man. You may be surrounded with all the care and comfort your money can buy. You may have the love and tenderness of all your friends, but the last step you must take alone. When you pass into eternity, will it be for you "a leap in the dark," or "a leap in the light"?

I beseech you most affectionately not to put these queries from you. Answer them honestly before God. If you cannot reply, "To me death would be a leap in the light," turn to Jesus now. Trust Him as you read these lines, and all will be light.

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness,"
he says in John 12:46

He tasted death, that we might live; endured the darkness, that we might enjoy the light; and sustained the judgement of God, that we might be freely justified.

"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God."
1 Peter 3:18.

"But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Hebrews 9:26-28.

Trust Him then simply, my reader; and then, when called hence, whether by falling asleep in Jesus or, better, His coming in the air for His own (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), through infinite grace, it will be "a leap in the light."

There is a time, we know not when,
A point, we know not where,
Which marks
the destiny of men,
To glory or despair.

There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God's mercy and His wrath.

A point of time, a moment's space,
The choice you make will tell,
Will land you in yon Heavenly place,
Or shut you up in Hell!

(BTP #2322)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Growing Up

"Happy is that people,... whose God is the LORD."
Psalm 114:15

About two weeks ago, I got Emma's 6month pictures back. She's just a little over seven and a half months old now. In the picture she was sitting unassisted, but I had to keep catching her before she toppled over since she wasn't quite sitting alone at six months. It's amazing to see how much she's changed just in the last six weeks! Now she's babbling nonsense all the time and in the last three weeks, she's taken to eating baby cereal like a duck takes to water.

Emma has been my 'milestones on memorable dates' child. She got her very first tooth on my birthday. And she was undoubtedly crawling on Mother's Day. I wonder what she'll be doing on my anniversary this year? Walking? It's possible I guess. PC was walking two and a half months after he started crawling, and my anniversary is two months from today.

On Friday Emma pulled herself into a standing position for the first time and later that evening, she took her first 'crawling steps' - where she actually put one knee in front of the other more than once before collapsing back onto her stomach. Saturday, we were out most of the day, so she didn't get a chance to practice her newest motor skill, although she did manage to pull herself into a standing position twice while I rinsed out the bathtub before her bath - she really wanted to climb into the tub, but not toppling over was hard enough! Yesterday (Sunday) she actually figured it all out for real. Emma can crawl! And that means she can get into things. I found her in my bedroom scattering the contents of the trash can this morning.

This is just the beginning - it's time for me to baby-proof the house again. I have a feeling that a lot of toys are going to be confiscated for a while due to small, removable parts. Emma thought she'd discovered a gold mine when she made her way underneath the table. I also have a feeling that I'll become very familiar with my vacuum cleaner in the next few months.

Here is the 'freebie' picture that I got with Emma's 6 month picture package. I didn't realize that they'd brought in new backgrounds until after I'd settled on a package picture. Otherwise, I would have used the spring flowers background for the main package picture. Oh well, I know they have it now. Maybe I'll use it for the 1 year pictures in September. I should go. All three of my kids are napping now (4pm Monday), and I've been drifting off to sleep here at my computer every once in a while as I stop to rethink a sentence.

And then I tried to include a video to this post, but ended up battling blogger for nearly an hour before giving up. Beside nearly losing all of my nap time, my html formatting got all messed up for me. So, as a result - no video and a post uploaded 8 hours later! And now I'm almost done soaking my foot, so I'm heading to bed!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Serious Things Tomorrow!

A Fatal Decision

Many years ago there lived in Greece a ruler named Archias. He was a very selfish man, living only for pleasure and caring little or nothing for the needs of his people. Many hated him, and at last some plotted together to kill him.

Of course, Archias knew nothing of the plot, but he had a friend far away in Athens who heard of it and set about to warn him at once. He wrote a letter to the king warning him of his peril, pointing out at the same time way to escape, and then he sent it in haste by a messenger.

Archias was busy holding a great feast when the messenger arrived, but since he came all the way from Athens with an important letter, he was admitted at once into the presence of the king.

"My lord," he said, "the one who sends you this letter earnestly begs you to read it at once as it speaks of serious things." Archias, merry with wine, bent on pleasure, was in no mood to read the letter then, and never guessing what it contained, laughingly he cast it aside, exclaiming as he did so, "Serious things tomorrow!" Then he went on with his pleasure.

Alas, poor man, tomorrow never came. No further warning was given. His evening's pleasure came to a sad and abrupt end. At the height of the gaiety of the feast, those who had plotted against the king rushed forward and killed him.

Perhaps, unsaved reader, as you read these lines, you too are enjoying good health and are bent on an evening of gaiety and worldly pleasure. Such matters as your soul's welfare are too serious for you to consider just now and like Archias, you say, "Serious things tomorrow!"

But stop! Tomorrow may never come. This may be your last night on earth. What if God should say to you as He said to a prosperous farmer long ago, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee"?

You may not like such serious thoughts, and, furthermore, without doubt Satan, the enemy of your soul, is seeking at this very moment to persuade you to lay aside this tract and forget its solemn message. But in it God sends you a message of love - a warning of judgment that hangs over your head but at the same time pointing out a sure way to escape.

That way is through Christ crucified on the cross for you. In those three hours of darkness He bore the judgment of God against sin - a judgment that you and I deserved. He died, He rose again; He is seated now at God's right hand in heaven. Through Him God now offers a free pardon to all who will believe. The text of this proclamation reads thus:

"Be it known unto you therefore...that through this man [Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins and by him all that believed are justified from all things."
Acts 13:38,39.

Will you not heed this warning message and come to Christ for safety? Or will you, like Archias, throw it away saying, "Serious things tomorrow"? Friend, you will have plenty of time for serious thoughts - and for nothing else- when you find yourself without a Saviour, without a friend, without a hope, in endless misery amid the darkness of a lost eternity.

"How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"
Hebrews 2:3

(BTP #2454)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Random and Rambling

This week has been one of 'those' weeks. The kind where we seem to be going non-stop forever. That partially explains the lag in my posting I guess.

Today we took Sir to work and then came home before heading off again. We had just enough time to re-pack the diaper bag, switch reading card sets, and turn the bird light on downstairs. Then it was off to the Public Health for Emma's latest round of shots. She did very well, and has stabilized on the 10 percentile line of the growth charts. For a while she had been following a downward curve that the doctors didn't like and it resulted in lots of extra tests and doctor visits, but I think we're out of the woods there now. We have two more doctor visits week after next and then I believe we're good to go until Emma hits the 1 year mark.

After we left the P.H. unit, we stopped by a Mac's corner store and the kids picked out a Gatorade and chocolate bar to go with the pizza we were having for lunch. We ate at home, and everyone was finished in decent time so we had time to tidy up the house before naps. Recently, Dolly has been skipping her afternoon nap in order to help her sleep better at night, but I was tired today and everybody was going to have a nap. While we were tidying up, I got lost thinking.

I spent the better part of an hour managing me times three - well, at least in my head. It was more like a memory game than a management game, but it might help if I explained it a little. I started out with me. There's only so much I can do at once, and there's always much more that needs to be done, so while I helped and directed the kids in clearing their bedroom floor, I had 'me' emptying the dishwasher in the kitchen. Now, I guess 'I' would be 'me #1' and the 'me' in the kitchen would be 'me #2', but here's where the management part comes in, I have to mentally empty the dishwasher in a realistic amount of time and plan out the next job for 'me #2' all the while not forgetting about 'me #3' who I'd assigned to folding the laundry in the living room. 'Me #1' is easy enough, because that's what actually gets done, but 'me #1' gets sidetracked changing dirty diapers and blowing noses and fixing princess crowns. I had lots of fun while I vacuumed this afternoon because since I was in all parts of the house the jobs were just jumping out at me right and left. Once 'me #2' was finished unloading the dishwasher she could reload it and hand wash the things that needed hand washing while 'me #3' was then putting the folded laundry away before proceeding to dust my bedroom and then the rest of the house. By then I was helping Dolly in the bathroom and then I had to nurse Emma, but somebody had to clean the bathroom and bring in the mail and since I really wanted to post today I had a 'me' doing that and a 'me' putting the older kids to bed, and a 'me' soaking my foot and a 'me' taking a nap. And by then I was actually getting my kids to bed for real and soaking my foot for real and was too tired to keep playing my mental game and so finally took a nap for real.

And then I woke up from my nap in shock because my kids were being exceptionally good. They had woken up before me, but instead of making lots of noise, or waking Emma up, or barging into my room to find me, they were silently standing at my door watching me! I rolled over to wait out the last minute and a half before the alarm went off and they disappeared to the living room where I found them peacefully standing side by side on the couch watching the 5 o' clock traffic go by.

So, we grabbed some more reading cards, put our shoes and socks on and headed off to pick Sir up from work. And now I should go because there's all the work that my imaginary 'me''s left undone for real that still needs to be done, and since there's not very much time before I should be sleeping, I have to carefully chose which things are highest priority. And I should really go before I let myself ramble on for another six paragraphs - I'm in a rambling mood tonight. Maybe some of it will end up in another post when my wits are a little more collected!

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Matchless Pearl

A heavy splash was followed by many ripples and then the water below the pier was still. An American missionary crouched on the low Indian pier, his eyes riveted on the place where a stream of little bubbles rose to the surface from deep under the water. Suddenly a black head appeared and a pair of bright eyes looked up. Then the old Indian pearl diver was clambering onto the dock, grinning and shaking the water from his shining oiled body.

"As nice a dive as I've ever seen, Rambhau!" cried David Morse, the missionary.

"Look at this one, Sahib," said Rambhau, taking a big oyster from between his teeth. "I think it'll be good."

Morse took it and while he was prying it open with his pocket knife Rambhau was pulling other small oysters from his loincloth. "Rambhau! Look!" exclaimed Morse, "Why, it's a treasure!"

"Yes, a good one," shrugged the diver.

"Good! Have you ever seen a better pearl? It's perfect, isn't it!" Morse had been turning the big pearl over and over and then handed it to the Indian.

"Oh, yes, there are better pearls, much better. Why, I have one-" his voice trailed off. "See this one-the imperfections-the black specks here, this tiny dent; even in shape it is a bit oblong, but good as pearls go. It is just as you say of your God. To themselves people look perfect, but God sees them as they actually are." The two men started up the dusty road to town.

"You're right, Rambhau. And God offers a perfect righteousness to all who will simply believe and accept His free offer of salvation through His Beloved Son."

"But, Sahib, as so many times before I have told you, it's too easy. I cannot accept that. Perhaps I am too proud. I must work for my place in heaven."

"Oh, Rambhau! Don't you see, you'll never get to heaven that way. There's only one way to heaven. And see, Rambhau, you are getting older now. Perhaps this is your last season of diving for pearls. If you ever want to see heaven's gates of pearl, you must accept the new life God offers you in His Son."

"My last season! Yes, you are right. Today was my last day of diving. This is the last month of the year; and I have preparations to make."

"You should prepare for the life to come."

"That's just what I'm going to do. Do you see that man over there? He is a pilgrim, perhaps to Bombay or Calcutta. He walks barefooted and picks the sharpest stones and see-every few rods he kneels down and kisses the road. That is good. The first day of the New Year I begin my pilgrimage. All my life I have planned it I shall make sure of heaven this time. I am going to Delhi on my knees."

"Man! You're crazy! It's more than fourteen hundred miles to Delhi! The skin will break on your knees, and you'll have blood poisoning or leprosy before you get to Bombay."

"No, I must get to Delhi. And then the immortals will reward me. The suffering will be sweet, for it will purchase heaven for me."

"Rambhau! My friend! You can't! How can I let you do this when Jesus Christ has died to purchase heaven for you?" But the old man could not be moved.

"You are my dearest friend on earth, Sahib Morse. Through all these years you have stood beside me. In sickness and want you have been sometimes my only friend. But even you cannot turn me from this great desire to purchase eternal bliss. I must go to Delhi." It was useless. The old pearl diver could not understand, could not accept the free salvation of Christ.

One afternoon Morse answered a knock at the door to find Rambhau there. "My good friend!" cried Morse. "Come in, Rambhau."

"No," said the pearl diver, "I want you to come with me to my house, Sahib, for a short time. I have something to show you. Please do not say, 'No.' "

The heart of the missionary leaped. Perhaps God was answering prayer at last. "Of course, I'll come," he said.

"I leave for Delhi just one week from today, you know," said Rambhau as they neared his house ten minutes later. The missionary's heart sank. Morse was seated on the chair his friend had built especially for him, where many times he had sat explaining to the diver God's way to heaven. Rambhau left the room to return soon with a small but heavy English strong box. "I have had this box for years," he said. "I keep only one thing in it. Now I will tell you about it. Sahib Morse, I once had a son."

"A son! Why, Rambhau, you had never said a word about him!"

"No, Sahib, I couldn't." Even as he spoke the diver's eyes were moistened. "Now, I must tell you, for soon I will leave, and who knows whether I shall ever return? My son was a diver, too. He was the best pearl diver on the coast of India. He had the swiftest dive, the keenest eye, the strongest arm, the longest breath of any man who sought for pearls. What joy he brought me! He always dreamed of finding a pearl beyond all that had ever been found. One day he found it. But when he found it, he had already been underwater too long. He lost his life soon after." The old pearl diver bowed his head and for a moment his whole body shook. "All these years I have kept the pearl," he continued, "but now I am going, not to return... and to you, my best friend, I am giving my pearl." The old man worked the combination on the strong box and drew from it a carefully wrapped package. Gently opening the cotton, he picked tip a mammoth pearl and placed it in the hand of the missionary. It was one of the largest pearls ever found off the coast of India, and it glowed with a luster and brilliance never seen in cultured pearls. It would have brought a fabulous sum in any market.

For a moment the missionary was speechless and gazed with awe. "Rambhau," he said, "this is a wonderful pearl, an amazing pearl. Let me buy it. I would give ten thousand rupees for it."

"Sahib," said Rambhau, stiffening his whole body, "this pearl is beyond all price. No man in all the world has money enough to pay what this pearl is worth to me. On the market a million rupees could not buy it.

"I will not sell it. You may only have it as a gift."

"No, Rambhau, I cannot accept that. As much as I want the pearl, I cannot accept it that way. Perhaps I am proud, but that is too easy. I must pay for it, or work for it."

The old pearl diver was stunned. "You don't understand at all, Sahib. Don't you see? My only son gave his life to get this pearl, and I wouldn't sell it for any money. Its worth is in the lifeblood of my son. I cannot sell this, but do permit me to give it to you. Just accept it in token of the love I bear for you."

The missionary was choked and for a moment could not speak. Then he gripped the hand of the old man. "Rambhau," he said in a low voice, "don't you see? That is just what you have been saying to God." The diver looked long and searchingly at the missionary and slowly he began to understand. "God is offering to you eternal life as a free gift. It is so great and priceless that no man on earth could buy it. No man on earth could earn it. No man is good enough to deserve it. It cost God the lifeblood of His only Son to make entrance for you into heaven. In a hundred pilgrimages, you could not earn that entrance. All you can do is accept it as a token of God's love for you, a sinner. Rambhau, of course, I will accept the pearl in deep humility, praying God I may be worthy of your love. Rambhau, won't you too accept God's great gift of eternal life, in deep humility, knowing it cost Him the death of His Son to offer it to you?"

"The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Rom. 6:23.

Great tears were rolling down the cheeks of the old man. The veil was lifting. He understood at last. "Sahib, I see it now. I believe Jesus gave Himself for me. I accept Him."

"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
2 Corinthians. 9:15.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16.

(BTP #1909)