"Call the gardner"
When the famous financier J. P. Morgan Sr., was on his deathbed, he was observed to show marked signs of anxiety. Those in attendance asked if there was anything they could do to make him more comfortable, but he replied, "No, but I desire that prayer be offered in my behalf before I die."
He had among his acquaintances many of the world's most illustrious leaders, but as these were named one by one, he slowly shook his head. He even suggested that they trouble not his pastor, adding, "Where is the gardener? He is a man who prays, and God hears him. Call the gardener."
They called the gardener, and that humble man with rough work-worn hands and sunburned face entered those majestic halls. He entered a death chamber which gave every indication of the wealth of its owner. Its marvelous oriental rug, heavy draperies, and exquisite couch spoke loudly of wealth and luxury. But upon that couch lay a man approaching death, and he was not at peace. He had millions of dollars, but he didn't have the peace that filled the soul of his gardener who had worked for him for years.
Quietly the gardener approached the couch of the great captain of finance. The dying man cast an anxious look at the lowly gardener and uttered one word. "Pray." And how the gardener prayed for his rich master! He knew the need and did not fail to tell God about it. When he was finished, Morgan uttered the words, "It is well."
"It's hard to grow old alone!"
Mozart was so poor he was unable to buy wood to heat the shabby room in which he lived, so he sat with his hands wrapped in woolen socks to keep them warm while he composed divine music that was to make his name immortal. He died of consumption at 35 his vitality lowered by the constant cold and hunger as well as lack of nourishment. His pitiful funeral cost exactly $3.10. Only six people followed the cheap pine coffin and even they turned back because it started to rain.
One of the most popular songs ever composed, "Silver Threads Among the Gold," by Hart P. Dank, was composed as a love tribute to his wife and sold to the publisher for $15.00. Later he and his wife quarreled and parted. He died poor and lonely in a shabby lodging house in Philadelphia. On a table beside his death bed was a note, "It's hard to grow old alone."
For this worthless body Christ died
Many years ago in an Eastern city of the United States a poor old beggar, his body shrunken and sick and covered with sores, was sent to one of the great hospitals, and after being there for some days, was taken to the operating room. In those days they didn't have anesthesia, and the other patients could hear all the preparations for the ordeal. So before the surgeon began his work on this poor old wreck of a human being, he turned to the young medical students who were in attendance and, using the scholarly Latin of the schools, said to them, "Let's perform an experiment on this worthless body."
He thought his language wouldn't be understood, but the old beggar had once been a great scholar himself. He had drifted away into liquor and sin and had paid dearly for his life of "pleasure." But he could still understand Latin. So he lifted himself up on one elbow there in the operating room, and said in Latin"Yet for this worthless body Jesus Christ died."
Guided home by a text
Wing-commander Gerald Gregson, senior chaplain to the Canadian Royal Air Force tells of the day a badly wounded airman was carried into the hospital and placed in a bed beside another patient. Turning to the man in the next bed he asked, "Say, mate, can you tell me anything about religion?"
"I'm afraid I can't, pal," said the man on the next bed, "But there is a lady who comes here on Thursdays giving out tracts. She'll be able to tell you."
"I may not be here by Thursday," said the wounded airman.
After a pause the other man said, "You know, I remember that when I was a child going to Sunday School the teacher taught us a verse from the Bible something like this 'Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not."'
In a second the dying man asked, "Do you think I could come in on that?"
"You can try," said the other.
Pulling the sheet over his head the poor broken airman, with his life ebbing away, was heard slowly to say the words, "Suffer the little children to come ..." His voice faded away. It was all he had to direct him to the port of safety. Did God bring that text back to the mind of the man in the next bed? Who put that faith in the airman's heart? Who was trying to reach this man before it was forever too late?
Frank Higgons was known to many people whom he had brought to Christ as "The Lumberjack Sky Pilot." He was a big man, but he carried such a huge pack of literature on his back to give the lumbermen that he literally collapsed on his last trip.
When the men learned that he was being taken to the big city hospital for medical care, they got together and had a consultation. They decided to send one of their own number with Frank to be of any service that he could. They loved the man who had brought Christ to them and had given them the hope of everlasting life in a better world.
When the time came for the operation, this great big lumberjack stood at the door and said, "Frank, you know we love you and want to help you. While the doctors are operating, I will be at your door and Frank, if the doctors find they need a quart of blood or a piece of bone or skin, they can call on me. Frank, you can have every drop of blood or every bone in my body. Now, don't forget, I will be at the door,"
George Whitefield's dedication
George Whitefield was a wonderful example to all of us. His life and his words were a constant testimony to the power of the Gospel. Mighty audiences in the British Isles were swayed like a forest in the wind by his powerful messages. Time after time he crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the dangerous slow-moving ships of that day. In 1770, he died at Newburyport, Massachusetts. He had just preached to a large congregation, and they followed him to his inn. He stood on the stairway holding a candle in his hand, as he was on his way to retire, when they asked him to preach once more. Finally, as the candle burned down and was about to wink out, the great preacher ceased his preaching and went up to bed. The candle of his life burned before the morning. The words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart certainly must have been more than acceptable to God.
"It's so dark!"
One day a young mother was loving her little girl, but that same night that mother was dead. The child of six years was left without her mother. The young husband was heartbroken over his loss. The neighbors tried to comfort him and the child. After the funeral they said," Joe, you can't stay there tonight." But Joe said, "No, I'm going back to the room where she left me."
Soon the father heard the sobbing of his child, and he reached over, patted her in her little bed and said, "Go to sleep, dear, Daddy is here and he loves you."
The father thought she was asleep when he heard her little voice, "Oh, Daddy, it's so dark tonight!" He tried to calm her; he told her he was with her. Pretty soon he heard that soft voice again, and again he told her to go to sleep, that he loved, her.
She said, "Daddy, I tried to because you wanted me to. But Daddy, it's so dark tonight. It's never been so dark as this."
The father took the little child in his big arms and carried her over to his bed. He tried to comfort her as her mother would have done, and pretty soon she was sound asleep on her father's breast.
Then the father started to talk to the heavenly Father above. Through blinding tears he said, "Oh Father, it is dark, it's never been so dark before; but You love me, even if it is dark, don't you, Father?" Then he felt a great peace in his soul, that was never borne on land or sea, a peace that can be found nowhere but in Jesus. He found peace and rest in the great Consoler, the Light of the world.
Henry Feyerabend writes from Oshawa, Ontario, where he serves as the director and producer o/It Is Written in Canada.