The Servant's Joy
If at the end of his days someone had asked Abraham’s servant what was the event in his life which had given him the greatest satisfaction and joy he might have replied that it was that memorable morning when Bethuel’s daughter consented to leave her father’s house and to become the wife of his master’s son.
As a man of prayer who enjoyed much nearness to God, he knew that beyond the mere setting of that event higher issues were involved. His was the joy of knowing that he was the means of bringing her into the family of him who had the promise of a great spiritual inheritance in which she was also to share.
In the same way if one were to ask a true servant of the Lord the question, “What is the end of all your labour and what is it that you desire above all things in this life?” Would he not answer, ”It is that I might be used of the Holy Spirit to lead someone to Christ?”
To be the means of bringing even one soul to Christ is the greatest achievement and joy that can come the way of anyone in this world. It is a greater achievement than if we should make the very stars our stepping stones to encompass all creation.
God gives the highest commendation and the greatest promise to the one who labours to rescue others from eternal death. “He that winneth souls is wise.” “Well done, thou good and faithful servant enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Paul speaks of his many converts as his “joy and crown in the day of Christ.’’
When as a young man the much loved Bishop Taylor Smith had heard how God had blessed his message in the conversion of a sinner he bowed his head and whispered, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” There is a depth in this joy known only to those who have tasted it.
A minister of Christ once spoke in public on “the sorrows of the preacher.” He mentioned the sorrow which a cold indifferent attitude to the Gospel invitation produces in the heart of a man who over the years proclaims the “good news” to his congregation.
After the service and as he was moving away from the Church, a young man walked toward him. “A little while ago,” this lad said, “you preached a sermon which was, I hope, the means of leading me to Christ. Perhaps after all, your labour’s not in vain.”
That evening as this man journeyed home alone, a wonderful joy began to well up in his heart. He then knew, in some measure at least, the joy which is in the presence of the angels over one sinner who repents and returns.
“With what word would you like at last to close your eyes in this world?” This was the somewhat startling question which a preacher of the Gospel once asked another.
“I said the one who asked the question, ‘would like to die with the words of Abraham’s servant on my lips”. ”Let me go; for the Lord hath prospered my journey.” After a moment of silence the other replied: ‘And I, too, would like to die with these same words.”
How well do the words of Samuel Rutherford express this yearning which is in the heart of every true preacher of God.
“Fair Anwoth by the Solway,
To me thou still art dear!
Even from the verge of Heaven
I drop for thee a tear.
Oh! If one soul from Anwoth
Meet me at God’s right hand
My Heaven will be two Heavens
In Immanuel’s land.’
The excellent Rev. John Anderson who laboured in the Gospel in various parts of Canada was wafted into Heaven on a wave of joy. Sometime before he died a dark cloud overshadowed this spirit; but as “the dawn of heaven” began to break in upon his soul he began to clasp his hands. “It is all right now,” he said. “They say a drowning man sees all his life pass before him in a moment of time, and I, tool have had such a vision.’’
The Good Master has spread out before me all I have ever tried to do for Him, and the sky is full of stars; stars which I have won for Him. I can see where they begin, but I cannot see where they end.” The thought that he had been the means of winning souls for his master’s crown filled him with the deepest joy. The “stars” were with him to the end, and the words “happy, happy” lingered on his lips till he passed into God’s presence.
There is no sorrow of any kind in heaven; but the prospect of entering it without some token of our diligence and zeal is not a happy one. The joy of heaven is intimately associated with the improvement of our time and talents here in the service of the Lord.
Time is short. Our talents may be few. But the Lord commands us to redeem the time, and to use our gifts in His service. The welcome into the joy of the Lord is extended to those who have put their time and gifts to good use.
A noted preacher once had a strange dream. In his dream he saw himself entering heaven, the door of which was wide open to welcome him. At the door stood his Lord whose face, for some reason, bore a look of displeasure.
This gave him much concern. As he was about to cross the threshold of that blessed world the Lord asked him to look behind him. He did so and saw that he had come alone. There was no one behind him.
He had brought none with him. When he awoke he made haste to work and to pray that he might still be used of God in the salvation of souls. God owned his labours, and at the end of the day he entered his Master’s presence bringing with him many tokens of a rich spiritual harvest.
It is therefore true that “heaven will be two heavens” if there we meet those who, through our prayers, example or exhortation turned to the Lord.
Those who wrestle with God for the conversion of souls, and who plead with men to be reconciled to God are given a promise, the far reaching implications of which we cannot understand here.”
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
And may those who read this book, and I who have tried to tell a little of what God has done, meet together in that better world of love, of bliss and song, “with Christ, which is far better.”
Then those who sow and those who reap shall rejoice together.