By Harry Ironside
From his book, Full Assurance: Finding Settled Peace With God
For the most of my life, I have been an itinerant preacher of the Gospel, traveling often as much as thirty to forty thousand miles a year to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. In all these years, I only recall two occasions on which I have missed my trains. One was by becoming confused between what is known as daylight saving and standard time. The other was through the passive assurance of a farmer host, who was to drive me from his country home into the town of Lowry, Minnesota in time for me to take an afternoon train to Winnipeg, on which I had a Pullman reservation. I can remember yet how I urged my friend to get on the way, but he puttered about with all kinds of inconsequential chores, insistent there was plenty of time. I fumed and fretted to no purpose. He was calmly adamant.
Finally, he hitched up his team, and we started across the prairie. About a mile from town, we saw the train steam into the station, pause a few moments, and depart for the north. There was nothing to do but wait some five or six hours for the night express, on which I had no reservation, and found when it arrived, I could not get a berth so was obliged to sit in a crowded day coach all the way to the Canadian border, after which there was more room. While annoyed, I comforted myself with the words, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I prayed earnestly that if He had some purpose in permitting me to miss my train and comfortable accommodations, I might not fail to find it out.
When I boarded the crowded, foul-smelling coach, I found there was only one vacancy left and that was half of a seat midway down the car, a sleeping young man occupying the other half. As I sat down by him and stowed away my baggage, he awoke, straightened up, and gave me a rather sleepy greeting. Soon, we were in an agreeable, low-toned conversation while other passengers slept and snored all about us. A suitable opportunity presenting itself, I inquired, “Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?”
He sat up as though shot. “How strange that you should ask me that! I went to sleep thinking of Him and wishing I did know Him, but I do not understand, though I want to! Can you help me?”
Further conversation elicited the fact that he had been working in a town in southern Minnesota where he had been persuaded to attend some revival meetings. Evidently, the preaching was in power, and he became deeply concerned about his soul. He had even gone forward to the mourners’ bench, but though he wept and prayed over his sins, he came away without finding peace. I knew then why I had missed my train. This was my Gaza, and though unworthy, I was sent of God to be His Philip. So, I opened to the same Scripture that the Ethiopian treasurer had been reading when Philip met him—Isaiah 53.
Drawing my newly found friend’s attention to its wonderful depiction of the crucified Savior, though written so long before the event, I put before him verses 4, 5, and 6:
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
As the young man read them, they seemed to burn their way into his very soul. He saw himself as the lost sheep that had taken its own way. He saw Christ as the one on whom the Lord laid all his iniquity, and he bowed his head and told Him he would trust Him as his own Savior. For perhaps two hours, we had hallowed fellowship on the way as we turned from one Scripture to another. Then he reached his destination and left, thanking me most profusely for showing him the way of life. I have never seen him since, but I know I shall greet him again at the judgment seat of Christ.
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)