Friday, April 11, 2008

The Changes of Time

I find that as I get older I see more and more distance between now and 'how it used to be' in so many areas of life!
Some things are better and some leave me looking backwards with nostalgia.

I picked up a book yesterday as I was dusting , an old children's' book by the author of my favorite childhood book "Little Dot", Mrs. O. F. Walton.
The book is called "Tug of War" and was written sometime in the 1800's.

Just because the book was in my hand I reread it.

What struck me anew was how differently the pen was used then from how it is used today. The emphasis that modern authors employ is intended to soothe, to comfort , to uplift their readers, which is good but something that I find lacking in today's literature is the conscious intent to convict a soul both of sin and its need of the Savior.

It was very present in "Tug of War".

The author puts into the mouth of her pastor character, a sermon based on a simple tug of war contest that had taken place between the villagers where the main character of the book - Jack- was visiting. The sermon illustrated the spiritual battle that goes on for the soul of a man. The soul is the weight tied to the center of the rope that is pulled until one side pulls it across a line. On one side of the rope are the people who love a man, that are praying for his soul to be saved. Also pulling are the man's conscience, each God-given yearning, every sermon or message of God or witness of a friend or neighbour . All together are pulling to win the soul of the man to God's side of eternity.
On the other side is every ungodly friend, every desire of an evil nature, each temptation to sin, every excuse to put off making a decision to live for God instead of self - Satan using everyone, everything and every influence he can to pull the soul of man to his side of eternity.

The pastor pleaded with his audience warning that they were being pulled.. one tug at a time away from the God of heaven and the Christ who had died for their sins. The speaker's final words stuck in Jack's mind - "Oh dear friend, what are the depths, the fearful depths to which you are being drawn?"

That night he had a dream and I want to share that dream from the pages of "Tug of War".

I quote....

"That night I had a strange dream. I thought I was once more on the shore. It was a wild stormy night, the wind was blowing hard and the rain was falling - yet through the darkness I could distinguish crowds of figures gathered on the shore. On the side farther from the sea there was a bright light streaming though the darkness.
I wondered in my dream what was going on , and I found it was a tug of war taking place in the dark of night. I saw the huge cable and gradually as I watched, I caught sight of those who were pulling.
I walked to the side from which the light streamed and there I saw a number of holy and beautiful angels with their hands on the rope and among them I distinctly caught sight of my mother. She seemed to be dragging with all her might and there was such an earnest, pleading, beseeching expression on her face that it touched my heart to look at her. I noticed that close beside her was the preacher, Little Jack's father, and behind him was Duncan.
They were all intent on their work and took no notice of me, so I walked to the other end of the shore., the one nearest the sea that I might see who was there.
It was very dark at that end of the rope, but I could dimly see evil faces and dark strange forms that I couldn't describe.
Those on this side seemed to having it much their own way, I thought for the weight- whatever it was- was gradually drawing nearer to the sea and lo.. I saw that they were close to a terrible place, for mighty cliffs stood above the shore and they were within a very short distance of a sheer precipice.
"What are you dragging?" I called to them . And a thousand voices seemed to answer, "A soul, a soul !"
Then as I continued watching I saw that the precipice was nearly reached and that both those who pulled and the weight they were dragging were on the point of being hurled over and suddenly it flashed upon me in my dream that it was MY soul for which they were struggling and I heard the cry of the pullers on the other side of the shore and it seemed to me that with one voice they were calling out that terrible question , "What are the depths , the fearful depths to which you are being drawn ?"
And through the streaming light I saw my mother's face and a look of anguish crossed it as suddenly the rope broke and those who were drawing it on the opposite side went over with a crash dragging my soul over with them .

I awoke in terror........ and sleep seemed far from me for the rest of the night. ... All I could hear was the preacher's question "What are the depths , the fearful depths to which you are being drawn?"

We speak so freely and focus so completely on God's love in our expressions within Christianity today that I wonder sometimes if we have not gone too far. I remember the feelings of conviction that stirred in my heart as I sat listening to a pastor's sermon. It seems it has been a very long time since that has happened.
What do you think? Is there an empty place in our talk about God where honest conviction of a soul once stood?
God has not changed .... have we ?

Yes, God is a loving Father to those who have yielded to His goodness drawing them in.....but there is also the fearful danger facing those who yield to the other side.

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:31)

"And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10:28)


Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Julie, this is the most powerful thing that I have read in a while. A long while. It sent shivers up my spine. What an analogy---so forceful and eloquent. It's's true...there are unseen forces, dark, evil, strange shapes that cannot be described, just as the writer says. They exist in this world..their handiwork is all around us, each time we open a newspaper and cringe at the violence, death, and mayhem going on in the world. Everyone's soul hangs in the balance, as the two sides pull and tug, back and forth. It is not easy to be 'good', to do God's wishes. It is a battle, no doubt about it.

Lovella said...

It seems that you are sad in your asessment of our times. We have recently heard a young man speak at our church with such conviction that I've begun to say as we head to hear the message. . .well, here I go again .. .kind of a dread, at knowing my soul will feel conviction. . .but oh so sweet to be in a place of obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Demara said...

oh my Julie that was terrifying and a great message all at the same time! Thanks!