A Friend Indeed

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
While distributing gospel booklets in a village on the Northumberland coast, I handed one to an old fisherman. He read the title, “A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed,” and his face brightened into a smile as he added, “Yes, and the best Friend is Jesus.”
We were at home with each other at once, and he was soon telling me that he had known the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior for more than forty years; he had passed through stormy seas during that period, he said, but the Lord had never failed him.
As the tears began to roll down his weather-tanned cheeks, I judged that he had a story to tell, and so asked him about the storms.
He said: We had four sons and we lost them all in two years. They were 28, 26, 24, and 21 years old, but they were all the Lord’s, and we shall meet them again.
When the last of them came to die, his mother and I were sorely troubled, and he said to me, Father, you and mother look very down, what’s wrong with you?”
“Why,” I said, “my boy, we don’t like the thought of losing you; it’s that that makes us down.”
“But,” he replied, “you’re not going to lose me, Dad. I belong to Jesus, and I’m going home, and you’ll come soon, and we’ll all be united again; but give me the hymn-book, and I’ll sing a hymn to cheer you a bit.”
“You’re too weak to sing, my boy,” I said. But he at once replied, “Give me the book and let me try.”
And so the book was given to him, and he opened to that sweet hymn, and began to sing,
“Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly.”
He got through the first verse of it, and then found that what his father had said, was true, he was too weak to sing.
So he handed the book back again, and said, “You sing the next verse, father, and I’ll wave my hand to the tune.”
With halting notes the father sang,
“Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.”
And while the father sang, the dying lad, with a glad light upon his wan face, waved his hand to the tune, but ere the father had finished the verse, that feeble hand fell, and the ransomed spirit rose to be with the One who had gilded his bed of death with light.
My tears fell with those of the bereaved father, and. as we shook hands and separated, I could not help feeling, perhaps as never before, how good it was to know the best of Friends, whose love could drive the fear of death from the heart of the dying lad, and make him sing upon the borderland; and whose grace and love could also sustain the bereaved hearts left behind, so that they could say, “The best Friend is Jesus. He has never failed us.”
Across the will of Nature, leads on the path of God;
Not where the flesh delighteth, the feet of Jesus trod.
Oh, bliss to leave behind us the fetters of the slave,
To leave ourselves behind us, the grave-clothes and the grave!
Should hap the path be narrow, and steep and rough and lone,
If crags and tangles cross it, Praise God! we will go on!
Scarce seen, scarce heard, unreckoned, despised, defamed, unknown,
Or heard but by our singing; ON, Christian! EVER ON!
“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”