Delivered From the Pit

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 5
The “sick sailor” was a fine, powerfully-built young man of twenty-two, laid helpless through an accident.
“Come in, ma’am, and welcome,” he said as he saw me. “Harry — , that’s a mate of mine, told me you would tell me something that would be a comfort to me. The doctors say I’ll never move about again; and oh, to spend one’s life chained to one spot, it’s enough to turn one’s reason. When mother comes home from work, of nights, I mustn’t give way; it’s hard enough on her to have to work all day to keep me. Just as I thought she would be comfortable for the rest of her life, and never have to work hard again — .” He stopped, a sob that was more like a groan, choking his voice; but, mastering his emotion presently, he went on to tell me how he had been a ship’s carpenter. The sea was his delight, and he had made many a prosperous voyage, come through many a storm. When returning from his last voyage, and almost within hail of the harbor, he was up in the rigging repairing some slight damage. The day was very fine, but a breeze from the land suddenly caught the vessel, and she lurched to seaward. He was taken unawares just as he was about to come down, lost his hold on the rigging, and was thrown violently backward from a great height.
“When they could do nothing more for me in the hospital, I was brought home, and here I am, more helpless than a babe, and naught but a trouble and a care. It drives me well nigh crazy to see mother come in so pale and tired, and I to lie here; though she never grumbles, but always says that God had done it, and His ways are best. I’m glad she can think so, if it helps her; but it seems to me, as if, instead of being the God of the widow and the fatherless, as she says, He has forgotten her, and kept me from helping her too. Father was drowned at sea, when I was no more than three or four. God Almighty has been hard on us, ma’am, very, very hard.”
I felt powerless to attempt a word of comfort, and could only look to God to reveal Himself in His own true character as a Saviour-God to this poor, broken-hearted one, who had such dark thoughts of Him.
“Yours is a great trouble, Andrew, and human words are of little use, I know, though ever so full of sympathy, but there is One who can help, can comfort you, and I know Him. But you have let in bitter thoughts about Him. Have you nothing to say on the other side? No mercy to remember?”
“From what height did you fall?”
“Nigh on to sixty feet.”
“And was that high enough for the fall to have killed you?”
“Why, the miracle to everyone is, that I was picked up alive. Two mates of mine, when we were out in South America, fell not over thirty feet, and they never spoke again.”
“And if you had never spoken again on earth, where would your voice have been next heard — where would you have been at this very moment — in heaven, or in hell?”
“I should have been in hell, for the devil had a fast grip on me then.”
“Yes, and he was seeking to hurry you straight down to the pit. But the Lord’s eye was on you — the eye of Him whom you charge with forgetting the widow and dealing hardly with the fatherless; His mighty word of mercy went forth, ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit  ...  I have found a ransom.’ You say it was a miracle; it was the Lord’s love and mercy going out after your soul. Though you are crippled, yet you are still outside hell. The door of heaven stands open; still Jesus is waiting to be gracious, offering you salvation through His precious blood, saying, ‘Come unto Me  ...  and I will give you rest.’ He offers you eternal life. Did He forget the widow and her fatherless boy in rescuing you?”
I shall long remember the expression of his face, or rather the changing expressions of it, though he never stirred. Words burst forth at last, “I’m the biggest fool outside hell’s gate. I’ve done nothing but blacken Him.”
“Yes, yes, Andrew; but ‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from ALL sin’,” I repeated.
“But mine can’t be meant.”
“When God said ALL sin, didn’t He know what He was saying, and didn’t He mean it? He did, and oh, He knows too, He only knows, the full value of the blood of His Son.”
After a long pause, he suddenly looked up and said, “It seems too great that He could forgive me outright.”
I repeated from memory the well-known parable of the father and the prodigal son to ears that listened eagerly; he sobbed aloud as I finished. “That was love, sure; but, oh, even that man was never so bad as I.”
“But Andrew, it is not a question of how bad you are, but whether the blood of God’s Son is enough to cleanse you. Will you say that there are some returning prodigals the Father has not love enough to receive? I am going away now, and I want to leave you two short verses to think over: ‘God is love;’ and ‘The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from ALL sin.’ ” He repeated them two or three times after me. Then, promising to return if possible on the morrow, I left.
It was not possible to return next day, much as I longed to. When next I entered his room, he almost shouted out, “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” His face was beaming.
“Got what, Andrew?”
“Why, everything ’most, ma’am, except the glory, and that’s the port I’m bound for, and I’ve got my Pilot aboard, and given up the helm to Him, and He knows the way in.”
“Tell me all about it, Andrew.”
“Well, ma’am, after you went away, I was just miserable again. I could only see my sins and my black ingratitude. Yesterday when you didn’t come, I thought God had given me right up. In the middle of last night, when I was ’most in despair, I began to recall all that about the father going out to meet that poor man in his misery, and forgiving him out and out like. When my sins came back again, something seemed to say to me, ‘Andrew, man, if you’re a bigger sinner than that man, that only makes Him a bigger Saviour to be able to save you;’ and I just said out loud, ‘That’s it, Lord; I’ve got it now. Thou art a big enough Saviour to save even such a wretch as me!’ ”
“Does your mother know your joy?” I asked.
“Aye, aye, that she does. I couldn’t keep it in. You see it’s His great love that knocks one over.”
He asked, “Tell me that again about being delivered from the pit.” I read him Job 33, and then at his request read it a second time.
Once I asked him if the days were ever long. “Why, no ma’am, you see, I’m never alone now, for Jesus is here. And as to mother, I just tell Him He loves her better even than I do, and I know I can trust Him to look after her. After all His love, how could I ever doubt Him?”