I had had a very busy day, and experienced a very delightful feeling of restfulness, as I settled myself in a comfortable arm-chair, after having said “Good-night” to my children. Just before going, they had sung their evening hymn. As their sweet childish voices had joined with that of their mother, one verse had made an impression on my mind.
I was familiar with it, but it came to me with a new beauty and force. It was:
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord
Familiar, condescending, patient, free,
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.”
My wife went away with the little ones to see them to bed, and I was left alone with this verse of the hymn repeating itself in my memory; and the thought came to me, supposing He were to come as He came to his disciples, am I altogether prepared to receive Him into my house, to abide with me?
And as I meditated on the subject, I fell asleep, and dreamed, and, lo the door of the room opened, and in walked one whom I knew at once to be the Christ. Not the glorified Redeemer, as seen by John in the Isle of Patmos. No, he had answered the prayer of our hymn, and had come in humble human form:
“Familiar, condescending, patient, free.”
I knelt before Him, but He laid His hand on me and said: “Arise, for I have come to tarry with thee.”
My recollection of my dream here grows somewhat confused; but I remember it again when the next morning seemed to have arrived, and I was gathering my children around me, and telling them that Jesus had come to stay with us in the house. The little ones clapped their hands for joy, and my dear wife’s face beamed with rapture that seemed to transfigure her.
Just then the Lord Himself entered the room, and we took our seats around the breakfast-tablet. What language can I use to describe the wondrous peace which filled all our souls, or how our hearts burned within us as He talked with us?
But when the meal was over, and we had family worship, which was that day a foretaste of heaven itself.
I was ailed with perplexity. What should I do with my strange visitor? It seemed disrespectful to leave Him behind me at home yet it would mean serious loss to me to stay away from my place of business that day. But I could not take him with me, that was certain who ever heard of taking Christ to a counting-house?
The Savior surely knew my thoughts, for he said, “I will go with thee. How didst thou ask me? Was it not
“Come not to sojourn, but abide with me?” So whatever thou art doing, henceforth I will be beside thee. Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
It seemed rather strange to me, but I could not, of course, question what He said, so I started for my office with the dear Lord by my side.
At my counting-house I found a man waiting my coming with a good deal of impatience. He was a stock and share-broker, who transacted considerable business for me. To tell the, truth, I was not greatly pleased to see him there, as I was afraid that he might bring forward matters which I would not feel inclined to go into with Jesus listening to our conversation.
It was as I feared. He had come to tell me of a transaction he had arranged, which, whilst perfectly honorable according to the usual code of morals of the share-market, meant the saving of myself from the fear of loss by placing another person in the danger of it. He laid the whole scheme before me, without taking the slightest notice of the Lord; I knew not if he even saw Him.
I cannot tell the bitter shame I felt. I saw how impossible it was to square such a transaction with the Golden Rule; but I could not hide from myself the fact that the broker told me of it with a manner and tone that meant that he had no doubt whatever that I would applaud him for his cleverness, and eagerly close with the offer. What must that mean to the Christ? Would it not tell him that I was in the habit of dealing with one thought in my mind-how I could benefit myself?
The broker was astonished when I rejected his proposals, on the ground that they would be prejudicial to the interest of the other party in the transaction; and left me abruptly, apparently thinking I had developed a mild species of insanity.
Humbled, I fell at my Savior’s feet, and cried to Him for forgiveness for past sinfulness, and strength for time to come.
"My child," said He, in tender accents, "thou speakest as if my presence were something strange to thee. But I have always been with thee. I have seen and seen with grief, the way thou hast dealt with thy fellows, in business, and marveled at thy unbelief of My promise that I would ever be with thee. Have I not said to my servants, Abide in Me, and I in thee?
Just as He said these words, another gentleman entered the office. He was a customer whom I could not afford to offend, and I had uniformly shown a cordiality to him which I was far from feeling in my heart. He was vulgar, profane, and often obscene in his talk.
He had not been many minutes in my office before he made use of an expression which brought a hot blush to my cheek. I had heard him speak in a similar way before; and, although I felt repelled by it, I had, for fear of offending him, met it with faint laughter. But now I felt as I should have had it been uttered in the presence of a lady; only this feeling was intensified by the realization of the absolute purity of the Divine One who had been a hearer of the speech. I gave expression to my feeling in a word of expostulation , and he exclaimed: “You seem to have suddenly grown very prudish,” and left me in a rage.
Again, I turned to the Christ with a cry for pardon; and again, I learned that he had beheld all my former intercourse with this man.
I was now called into the adjoining office, where my clerks were employed, and found that one of them had made a foolish blunder, which would mean a considerable complication, and perhaps loss. I am naturally irritable, and at once lost my temper, and spoke to the delinquent in unmeasured terms. Turning my head, I saw that Jesus had followed me out of my private office, and was standing close beside me.
Again I was humbled, and had to cry for mercy.
Through all that strange day, similar incidents occurred; and the presence of the Master, which I thought would have been a joy, was a rebuke to me. It showed me, as I had never dreamed before, that I had framed my life on the supposition that He had but little to do with it.
But, on the other hand, there were times during the day when my soul was filled with rapture; times when He smiled on me in loving approval, or when He spoke words of pardon and absolution, or when He opened out before my wondering gaze some fresh beauty of His character and person.
Such a time was the moment when, on my return to my home, the children came crowding around Him, and wanted to show Him their toys and pigeons, and a brood of newly-hatched chickens, and I rebuked them, and said to them “Run away, children! Trouble not the Master with such trifles."
And he seated himself and took my curly-headed little boy on His knee, and called my two little girls to His side, and said tome: “Suffer these little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
I awoke, and lo! It was a dream.
- The Ballarat Christian Union
Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893
Abide with Me - A cappella - Eclipse 6