I Want to See Him, so Badly

BY the side of a dull, comfortless-looking fire in one of the back streets of the busy town of C—, stood a lad of about nine years of age. To a stranger the boy might have appeared at least two years younger than he really was, so small and slight was he when compared with healthier children of his own age.
Very sharp and thin were the features that marked his wizened face, and a second glance was not needed to tell that "Little Jem" was no stranger to poverty and want. But thoughts of the many hardships of his daily life were not occupying the boy's mind as he stood by the cheerless fire, almost mechanically holding his chilled fingers before the uncertain blaze.
A strange, eager light was in the boy's blue eyes as he silently watched the flickering flames. The still heavily-falling rain, the long hasty run from school, and even his own half-sodden garments were all unheeded. A new joy had that afternoon taken possession of Little Jem's soul His parted lips, and the bright smile resting on his pale thin face, told of some deep inward happiness that the boy was experiencing.
No marvel that Little Jem's heart was full, and full to overflowing! Strange and wonderful words had fallen on his ears for the first time in his recollection. The sweet story of a Saviour's love and grace had entered his soul by the Holy Spirit's teaching, filling Little Jem with grateful affection towards the loving Jesus who had suffered so much for him.
A Christian gentleman who visited the school, had asked permission to speak a few words to the children in attendance. His request had been granted. He chose for his subject the parable of "The Shepherd and the Lost Sheep," and little Jem had listened to the story as he had never listened before. As the speaker dwelt on the love of Jesus to poor sinful boys and girls in this perishing world, great tears gathered in the boy's eyes and rolled down his thin pale features. Never before had the thought that the Lord Jesus could love a poor ignorant boy like himself entered into Little Jem's mind. Now, he saw himself as never before. Wicked deeds that he had done, bad naughty ways of which he had been guilty, came to his remembrance. Hasty words and angry passions came flocking to his memory. Yes, Little Jem saw that he was a sinner. Like the lost sheep on the bleak mountain side, the boy felt that he too was far away from the Good Shepherd. But as the kind stranger proceeded, and pointed out to the little listeners that, though the sheep had wandered so far, yet so great was the love of the Good Shepherd that He did not rest until He had "found" it.
“Dear boys and girls," the speaker concluded by saying, “such is the love of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to you. The dear Saviour left the bright glory on high in order to seek and to save your precious souls. The stain of sin is on you, but He shed His blood in order to make you pure and holy. As we read in God's own word, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.' All those who trust in Him become the lambs of the Good Shepherd. Even to-day Jesus waits to welcome you, and to make you happy forever.”
And in his heart, just sitting where he was in the crowded schoolroom, Little Jem had come to Jesus that very afternoon. He had found, indeed, that the Saviour was ready to receive him just as he was. Oh, how happy Little Jem felt as he left the schoolroom and hurried to his humble home! Scarcely had he noticed the fast-falling rain in his newfound joy. It was this same sweet joy that was still filling his heart as he stood before the poor, scanty fire, utterly regardless of his soaking garments.
Almost an hour had passed, and still Little Jem retained the same position. The voice of his mother, just returning from her hard day's washing, aroused him at last.
“Oh, mother," he said, as he threw his arms around her on her entrance, "He's found me at last. I do love Him so. I want to see Him, so badly.”
Many words were needed to make the poor woman understand her little son's meaning. She was not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and could not enter into the joy of which her child was speaking.
“Why, Jem, my boy," she said, a few minutes later, anxious to dismiss the subject, "you're almost wet through. You must go to bed at once while I dry your things for you. You'll take your death of cold.”
And to bed poor Little Jem was obliged to go, as he had no other garments to wear. Very still and quiet, but very, very happy, the boy lay in his humble bed in the corner of the room.
In time, the poor shabby garments were once more dry and fit for use, but Little Jem showed no inclination to rise. The Good Shepherd was by his side, and his childish heart was satisfied! Morning dawned, and found the boy unable to move. Cold and exposure had taken effect on Little Jem's slight frame. A day or two later, and fever set in. "I want to see Him, so badly," was the constant cry of the suffering boy, and in just a week from the time of Little Jem's first great happiness God gave him the desire of his heart—his happy little spirit passed into the presence of Him whom he had so dearly loved.
Dear little readers, you may not be so poor, so ignorant as Little Jem, but are you as happy as he? Have you ever, like him, come to the Good Shepherd's side and found that He loves you? Sweet it is to be loved by father, mother, sister, and brother, bu sweeter still is the love of Jesus for perishing sinners. Can you think lightly of such a love as His? He is "the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep." Come like Little Jem, to Jesus, and you, too, will be happy forever. M. V. B.