My friend was a wastrel. But what he was, and what he became, are two different things. He reminded me of God’s description of certain men He called to further His work in the early days of the Testimony. “God chose the foolish… the weak… and the base. ” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). They were the base, the dregs of humanity. Strong and uncomplimentary words to say the least, but the meanings are borne out from the Greek. The Greek word for base is agenes, meaning unborn, uncreated, of no family, low born; “hence, low, vile”. Their genes (a word used greatly by scientists today), the means by which inherited characteristics of individuals are transmitted, were very much suspect. All because of sin, unquestionably. Yet through the power of the gospel an “unborn” sinner can be transformed into a “born again” saint. Amazing grace!
For my friend to lie dead drunk in the gutter was commonplace. He could not have gone any lower. Then he heard the good news that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and he was gloriously saved. The song of the drunkard was now changed to a hymn which he whistled and sang at every opportunity. This was a favourite verse of a hymn:
“From sinking sand He lifted me;
With tender Hand He lifted me;
From shades of night to plains of light,
Oh, praise His Name! He lifted me”.
Every house in the small town where he had been known as a drunkard received from his hand a gospel leaflet. Most Saturday nights he would walk up and down the theatre queues distributing his tracts. It was a joy to sit with him on the occasion of the breaking of the bread. He valued greatly the holy priesthood service of God’s people, and it never ceased to be a marvel to him that he had been chosen to participate in such a noble service. In the giving of thanks he would shed copious tears of devotion and appreciation for the Man of Calvary; and he would sob out his worship to the God of glory. We rarely witness such a scene today.
My friend might not have been chosen to be among the noble, the mighty, the wise of this world. But he was chosen, saved, and called by God; and he was not only a member of the royal family of heaven, but part of the royal priesthood of earth (1 Peter 2:9). Similar to Mephibosheth in some of life’s circumstances, the brother of whom I write is now in the Presence of the King. From Lo-debar (see 2 Samuel 9) to the eternal banqueting house where flies the banner of eternal love! His experience is a sound lesson to us all to forget the world with all its fame, and rejoice that our names are “written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). God does the calling. To Him be the glory.