My Dear Children,


                               A missionary who was learning the language of the country to which he had been sent, one day asked his native teacher to tell him a story, in order to see whether he could understand it.  After thinking a moment the man began:-  ‘I will tell you of the great Shah Abbas, who reigned in olden time so magnificently in Persia’ . This sovereign loved to mingle with his people in various disguises, thus to know them more perfectly.  Once he was walking alone, dressed as a poor man, in the streets of his capital, and coming to one of the public baths, he descended a long flight of steps - dark and damp - till he reached the tiny cellar where the fireman, seated on ashes, was tending the furnace.  The King sat down beside him and they began to talk.  Presently, it being meal-time, the fireman produced some coarse black bread and a jug of water, and they ate and drank.  The Shah went away, but returned again and again, for his heart was filled with pity and sympathy for the lonely man.  He questioned him of his life, his joys and sorrows; he gave him sweet counsel, and the poor man opened to him his whole heart and loved this friend - so kind, so wise, yet poor like himself.  At last the Emperor thought, ‘I will tell him who I am, and see for what gifts he will ask me So he said to him, ‘You think me a poor man, but I am Shah Abbas, your Emperor, who have come to you to know for myself your state He expected to hear a petition for some great thing, but the fireman sat silent, gazing on him with love and wonder.


“ ‘Then’ the King said: ‘Have you not understood, or do you not believe me?  Do you not know that I can make you rich and noble, can give you a city, appoint you a great ruler?  Have you nothing to ask of me?’  The man replied gently ‘Yes, my Lord, I understand, I believe.  But what is this you have done, to leave your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to partake of my coarse fare, to listen to my thoughts, to care whether my heart is glad or sorry?  Even you can now give nothing greater or more precious.  On others you may bestow rich presents, but to me you have given yourself; and it only remains to pray that you never withdraw the gift of your friendship


The narrator paused, and the missionary looked at the dark care-worn face of the Christian Moslem, wondering what meaning the story held for him.  Presently he continued: “Missionary, I am old and poor.  I have lost all for Christ's sake.  At times ... my mind is filled with doubt and darkness ... then I remember my wretched state, dark and lost in sin, in the days of my youth; and how, when I knew not and cared not for God, He chose and called me, and drew me, and made Himself my everlasting portion, and how Jesus humbled Himself for me.  Then I say, ‘Let my Lord only not withdraw His presence from my poor heart - from the lowly dwelling which is all I have to offer Him, and I desire no more?  Once, I asked of Him money and rich gifts, now I only want Himself”*


[* From “Letters to Light-Keepers,” by Mrs. Henry.]


How wonderful that the Lord of Glory often approaches His lost, rebellious creatures, with a request rather than with a threat!  True, Divine Mercy - intent on saving the sinner from his awful doom ‑ solemnly warns concerning “wrath to come."  Yet, when our Saviour sat, wearied, beside Sychar’s well, He deigned to open the interview which was to result in salvation to many with the lowly request: “Give me to drink” (John 4: 7).  Nor were the words a gracious subterfuge, so to speak, to win the woman’s confidence: for He Who spake was the Truth.  Doubtless He was indeed, at that time, physically thirsty.  But the Saviour has a heart-thirst to which every sinner may minister who accepts salvation though the precious blood.  The Lord Jesus longs for the souls for whom He died, and He hungers for them:- “Master, eat,” begged the disciples, but He replied, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.  My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work ... Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest


In Rev.3:20, (which, however, is addressed, not to the unsaved, but to the backsliding Christian) the Lord Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me  Here the Lord offers to be the Guest of whoso, in meek surrender, will lay a yielded self before Him.  Then the Lord, in turn, becomes Host, feeding His redeemed one with Himself - the living Bread.


It is gloriously simple.  We minister to our Saviour by accepting the life which He gives - He gives, and is solaced by the resulting fruits of that life.  And all is of the Spirit, of Whom we are born from above into a new life of fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1: 3).  Then is it ours to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, because our King has stooped to lift us from our lost estate, and has given us, not His gifts only, but Himself.


Your affectionate friend,


                                   HELEN RAMSAY.