A Wonderful Visitor
The following is a true story and was taken from one of our favorite books, Touching Incidents And Remarkable Answers To Prayer, originally printed in 1894
I had had a very busy day and experienced a delightful feeling of restfulness as I settled myself into a comfortable armchair. Just before my children went to bed, they paused to sing their evening hymn. As their sweet voices joined with that of their mother, one verse made an impression on my mind. I was familiar with it, but it came to me with a new beauty and force.
"Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwelt with Thy disciples, Lord;
Familiar humble, patient, free,
Come not just to visit, but abide with me."
My wife went away with the little ones to see them to bed, and I was left alone with this verse of the hymn repeating itself in my memory. The thought came to me: Supposing He were to come to me as He came to His disciples? Am I altogether prepared to receive Him into my house to abide with me? As I meditated on this idea, I fell asleep and began to dream - then lo! -the door of the room opened, and in walked One whom I knew at once to be the Christ. But He did not appear as the glorified Redeemer that John saw on the Isle of Patmos. Instead, He had answered the prayer of our hymn and come in simple human form:
"Familiar humble, patient, free."
I knelt before Him, but He laid His hand on me and said, "Arise, for I have come to stay with you."
Here my recollection of the dream grows somewhat confused, but when the morning seemed to arrive I was gathering my children around me and telling them that Jesus had come to stay with us. The little ones clapped their hands for joy, and my dear wife's face beamed with a rapture that seemed to transfigure her.
Just then the Lord Himself entered the room, and we took our seats around the breakfast table. What language can I use to describe the wondrous peace which filled our souls, or how our hearts burned within us as He spoke?
When the meal was over and we had our daily family worship, it was like a foretaste of Heaven itself! Yet afterwards I was troubled as I wondered what to do with my strange Visitor. It seemed disrespectful to leave Him behind at home, and it would mean serious loss for me to stay away from my place of business that day. Yet I certainly could not take Him with me! Who ever heard of taking Christ to a business office?
The Savior knew my thoughts, for He said, "I will go with you. What did you ask of Me? Was it not - 'Come not just to visit, but abide with me'?"
"So, whatever you are doing, henceforth I will be beside you. For I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
It seemed rather strange to me, but I could not, of course, question what He said. So I started off for work with the dear Lord by my side.
At my office, I found a man impatiently awaiting my arrival. He was a stockbroker who had transacted a great deal of business for me. To tell the truth, I was not greatly pleased to see him there. I was afraid that he might bring up matters which I would not feel inclined to discuss with Jesus listening to our conversation.
It was as I feared. He had come to tell me of a business deal he had arranged for me. Although it was a perfectly honorable transaction according to the usual moral code of the stock market, it meant saving myself from loss by placing another person in danger of it. The stockbroker laid the whole scheme before me without even taking the slightest notice of the Lord - perhaps he didn't even see Him.
I cannot tell the bitter shame I felt. I saw how impossible it was to square such a transaction with the Golden Rule. I could not hide from myself the fact that the broker told me of it in a manner and tone that meant he had no doubt I would applaud him for his cleverness and eagerly close the deal. What did that mean to the Christ? Would it not tell Him that I was in the habit of doing business with only one thought in my mind - how I could benefit myself?
The broker was astonished when I rejected his business proposals on the grounds they would not be in the best interest of the other party in the transaction. He left abruptly, probably thinking I had developed a mild case of insanity. Humbled, I fell at my Savior's feet and begged forgiveness for past sinfulness, and asked Him for strength in time to come.
"My child," He said tenderly, "you speak as if My presence were something strange to you. But I have always been with you. I have seen, and seen with grief, the way you have dealt with your business associates, and marveled at your unbelief of My promise that I would always be with you. Have I not said to my servants, 'Abide in Me, and I in you'?"
Just as He said these words, another gentleman entered the office. He was a customer I could not afford to offend, so I had always been friendlier to him than what I really felt in my heart. He was vulgar, profane, and often obscene in his talk.
He had not been in my office long before he made use of an expression which brought a hot blush to my cheek. Although I had always felt repelled by his language, I had met it with faint laughter in the past for fear of offending him. But now I felt as embarrassed as if he had said it in the presence of a lady. This feeling was only intensified by my realization of the absolute purity of the Divine One who had also heard those vulgar words.
I made a strong verbal objection to this man's language. He looked at me and exclaimed with surprise, "You seem to have suddenly grown very prudish!" Then he turned and left in a rage. Again I turned to Christ with a cry for pardon, only to learn that He had beheld all my former conversations with this man.
I was now called into the adjoining office to find that one of my clerks had made a foolish blunder in his bookkeeping which would mean considerable complication and perhaps financial loss. I at once lost my temper, and spoke to the clerk in very harsh terms. But as I turned my head, I saw that Jesus had followed me out of my private office and was standing close beside me.
Again, I was humbled, and had to cry for mercy.
Through all that strange day, similar incidents occurred. The constant presence of the Master, which I would have thought to be a joy, was instead a rebuke to me. It showed me, as I had never dreamed before, that I had lived my life as if Christ had little to do with it.
But, on the other hand, there were times that day when my soul was filled with rapture. There were times when He smiled at me in loving approval, or when He spoke words of pardon, or when he opened before my wondering gaze some fresh beauty of His character and person. Such a time was the moment when, on my return home, the children came crowding around to show Him their toys and a brood of newly hatched chickens. I rebuked them, saying, "Run away, children! Trouble not the Master with such trifles."
But He seated himself, taking my curly-headed little boy on His knee and my two little girls to His side, and said to me, "Suffer these little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."