Outside a hut in the north years ago, we were showing slides, using an old time projector, a “magic lantern”, lit by a row of four carbide burners. A varied group of men were watching, both white and coloured, buffalo shooters and others of different occupations.
Listened To God’s Voice in The Gospel Story
A hush brooded over the gathering as these men watched the pictures of the Christmas Story, the angel appearing to the shepherds, the wise men following the Star, the worship of the baby in the manger, the infinite God appearing as an infant of human years. One of His names is, “Emmanuel” which means “God with Us” (Matthew 1:23).
They listened to the story of the life of the Saviour on earth, His healing power, His forgiving mercy. They saw the pictures of His last anguish, His trial and flogging and crucifixion, when He died for their sins and ours. They followed the story of His mighty resurrection and ascension, the triumph yet to be consummated by His return in majesty and power and judgment to take His rightful place and reign forever.
The effect on those men was plain enough. Some of them had never heard the Gospel story before; perhaps all of them heard God’s voice as they listened, and as, at the last, they saw Holman Hunt’s great old picture of the Saviour carrying a lantern and knocking at the door. One of these men came the next day to talk in spellbound tones, and said “I never heard anything like it in my life!” The outcome was that after some time and further dealings, he read the New Testament for himself and came into the life and peace and freedom that Christ alone, can give.
Another case was quite different, though both men were of advanced years. It was the man who lived in the hut where we had the pictures. He had come to the Territory long ago, when he was only a boy in his teens., He had come for adventure, just “to have a look around” and, as numberless others have done in Australia’s vast inland, he sank into it as into a bog and there he remained for the rest of his life.
Try To Break Free The Invisible Chains
In those earlier days when there were comparatively few passing through, men often found difficulty in escaping even for a holiday. They fell into the snares that beset them and this man was a typical example. Among other things the drink took his money and helped to undermine his resistance and enslave his life.
After many years of hard work, earning ample money, he was still living, or existing within a confined area in the bush where freedom is supposed to be the chief
characteristic, but where men are often the victims of bondage worse than a prison.
There are invisible chains that wind around the mind and heart and will, and they strengthen their hold as the years go by. The victims may be troubled with spoils of terrible remorse. They may realize the shame and loss that have ruined their lives—but what can they do? To stifle this frustration they will plunge further into the very things that hasten their doom.
Sometimes the memories of home and loved ones, and childhood days gleam like far away stars, but only to increase the darkness of the night that has settled on them.
What is the good of it all? Why try to break free? Who cares anyway?
The Old Way Is Best 3 & 4
The Devil’s Got Me! I Can’t Come.
A conversation with the man in question revealed that in a city in Victoria, as a boy he attended Church and Sunday School, and at one time gained a prize for five years unbroken attendance.
When the outward camouflage was penetrated a stark tragedy was revealed. The best years of life had fled, wasted years that could never be recalled. What had he gained by it all? Nothing but an aching, broken heart, disappointment and despair.
Such is the age-old pattern where the devil deceives and ensnares his victims. Mother, father, family had all been lost to him. Pure and innocent pleasures had taken their flight long since.
Could there be any hope left for a man in such a case? With a prayer for guidance the writer pointed out the never-failing mercy of the Lord, and told him everything that seemed possible regarding the great provision that God has made for everyone who will turn to Him for help and forgiveness. He had heard it all long ago. Bending down over an old trunk he pulled out the one relic that remained of his youthful days — a Bible!
Out of that Book the missionary of the Gospel brought many a loving invitation to the wanderer to come Home. If only he would hear the voice that had been stifled for so long!
“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden (that struggle to shake off the load and only find it increasing)—and “I will give you rest”. “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”.
“But I can’t come!” persisted the victim of mankind’s cruelest enemy. “The devil’s got me! He’s too strong for me!”
“He’s too strong for me too—- too strong for everybody! But not too strong for the Lord. If you let Him take over He will soon drive the devil out”.
“No—the devil’s got me! I can’t come”.
“Well if a fly struggles in a web it only gets itself more hopelessly entangled. But a man can set it free, with just a touch of his finger. The Lord’s power is almighty to deliver us. That is what He came for. ”
“No, I can’t come. I can’t come”, came the anguished reply.
Come To Him who calls from heaven!
“Well, the Lord has done more than call us to come. He has come to us Himself, and He says: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in…” (Revelation 3:20).
At this point the victim of this terrible bondage broke out into singing:
“Behold me standing at the door
And hear me pleading evermore,
Say, weary heart, oppressed with sin,
May I come in? May I come in?”
He had once heard this sung by a great Maori singer in the Ballarat Town Hall when he was a boy. Now the words and tune came back to him like music from heaven:
“I would not plead with thee in vain
Remember all my grief and pain.
I died to ransom thee from sin.
May I come in? May I come in?”
“I bring thee joy from heaven above,
I bring thee pardon, peace and love;
Say weary heart, oppressed with sin,
May I come in? May I come in?”
The tears streamed down the face of the old man, but still he remained mesmerized and helpless in the power that had tyrannized him for so long.
We walked at last down the little path that led from his hut—his only earthly dwelling. He gripped my hand with both of his and said: “Well, goodbye my dear good friend God bless you!”
Next day I had to leave on a prolonged journey and did not see him again. He left on a journey from which there is no return. Did he hear and respond to the Great Deliverer? We do not know, but will hope so. How dangerous it is to let the days and years go by without responding to the One who calls from heaven!
Life and everlasting joy and perfect freedom are within reach of us all, but they will not always be available. Let us act while there is time and opportunity, before we are so deeply ensnared that hope fades away.
Written : W. Arnold Long
Taken from BLAZING THE TRAIL p.17-21
Acknowledgement : CHRISTIAN BOOK ROOM
P. O. Box 95413 T.S.T. Kowloon Hong Kong S.A.R.of China
Photos by Tony Smith