He that cometh to me
Before I describe the growth of the Bible House I must record one more instance of the Lord’s victories in the human heart.
It all started on the farm of the Witthoft’s (whose pastor I was). A little while before my resignation from the pastorate I drove to their farm to visit them. (A round trip of about 150 miles). The road led through dense wooded hills where black wattles, pines and poplars grew in profusion. This tree world, with its heavy odours of dank growth and pollen, opened anon into mealie fields and undulating pastures. There, cattle grazed in the bright sunshine, heedless of the white herons that walked jerkily beside them or sat on their backs picking off parasites.
Occasionally we passed a secretary bird with the feather behind his ear. He strutted about like an old professor in tail coat; perhaps he knew he is legally protected. One wonders who would want to kill a bird that destroys so many poisonous snakes, anyway.
At length we turned off the public road and entered the winding red approach road to the farmhouse. After a while we saw the white house sheer below the road which was cut into the hillside.
A few minutes later we were in the spacious sitting room where the conversation, after a few preliminaries, moved to spiritual things. We spoke of ‘sects’ and ‘religious fanaticism’ – But the Lord knocked on the door of hearts in spite of their defensive attitude. The question arose, ‘What does it mean to be born again?’ No one knew the answer, but everybody thought of his catechism lessons (with the resultant admission into church membership) – and his baptism as an infant.
Towards evening I steered the car in the direction of the setting sun, its bright rays breaking into dazzling refraction on the windscreen. I had my work cut out navigating between herds of lowing cattle that were being driven home to be milked.
The people I had just left had been friendly and even courteously interested in the subject of our talk, but no movement towards a surrender to the Lord was discernible. Nevertheless there had been an indefinable wistfulness somewhere in that room. I could not get them out of my mind. Green fields of ripe mealies glided by. A weary sigh escaped me. Would they forget the words they had just heard? Oh! That the Lord would gather in that harvest.
A few days later a big powerful car drew up before the parsonage. The sole occupant stepped out. She was Mrs Witthoft who had recently listened quietly to our conversation in the distant white farm house. No sooner had she taken the chair I offered her when she spoke, the words tumbling in a tiny cascade of earnestness.
‘I had to come to see you though I knew you don’t like being disturbed on Saturdays. You must help me. I just must become a child of God.’
For a long time I spoke about the death of our Lord, about redemption and reconciliation by His blood, about regeneration and sonship, about eternal life in fellowship with the risen Lord and Saviour.
The farmer’s wife began to see clearly. The eyes of her heart were being opened through the light of the Word of God, and I had the privilege of leading her in prayer to the Lord Jesus – He who said,’ And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’
As she looked at me, peacefully and joyfully receptive to spiritual counsel I told her,’ Now you go home. Be on your guard and don’t depend on feelings. They come and go like morning clouds. Rely only on the sure and infallible Word of God.’
At the car, as she gratefully shook my hand I added, ‘In a few days time the Lord may pour into your heart abundant joy, if that, in His lovingkindness, is His will. It is for Him to decide. Perhaps he might leave you without any exuberant feelings and emotional experiences that your trust may be in Him alone. You are now His child, let Him do as He knows is best.’
Then she drove off into the bright evening.
But the next day she came to me immediately after the service saying, with tears in her eyes, ‘I have not closed my eyes all night, I just couldn’t sleep. The bliss and the glory were too great. I never knew a person could be so happy on earth.’
The heavenly Father had stooped over His child with a loving smile and had filled her with joy and peace.
The ways of the Lord are many and varied and are planned in divine love and wisdom. But this thing remains the same for all: nobody can enter His kingdom, or become His child without being born again.