Monday, September 6, 2010
Unexpected Mud Bath
(With thanks to Ruth Bell Graham and her stories and poems of redemption in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them)
The clergyman was a "shanty man" working among common sorts as a stevedore or "docker" at the docks of London. His apartment was humble. The wages sparse. But the opportunities were many to get to work beside unsaved men in difficult circumstances, to gain their trust and eventually offer some light.
One day in a hurried gangplank effort he was pushing a wheelbarrow of product onto a ship when a couple of playful workmates rocked the plank. Man and cargo fell into the low-tide Thames mud. Humiliated and looking for a way out of embarrassment, he sensed an inner urging: "This is your opportunity. Just laugh. Show them Jesus"
The hand which reached down to pull him up out of the mud belonged to an uncommon stevedore. Dignified in speech. Confident in gaze. There was a story here.
The missionary offered a simple meal back at his apartment. Confidence and warmth grew during the evening and the two new friends agreed to "trade stories". The missionary gave a brief account as above The other told a story of a previous life as distinguished physician and fortunate family man brought low by alcohol. His practice suffered. His wife became exasperated. He left unable to shake off the addiction.
Providence took him to America, Canada, strange jobs, and then back to London to the current situation.
That evening's introduction initiated a rich friendship, an unlocking of the promises of scripture, a commitment to Christ, a new and gratifying position in a pharmaceuticals warehouse, an end of the bottle and gradually a family reunion. Initially the doctor's wife deferred because the two daughters faced challenging hospital examinations upon which their future calling depended. But the happy day did come.
The physician was restored to a prominent position of service and he took special delight in counselling young men in Christian life.
Once on a trip to government offices, our missionary shanty man was approached by a young civil servant who asked if he knew Dr So-and-So. Replying in the affirmative, the elder learned that this young man had been helped through a life crisis by the Doctor.
The Doctor whose life had been totally restored with the help of a Christian man whom he met in the mud.
(Adapted from Finding Men for Christ by George Dempster)