Sheep That Have Gone Astray

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 5
As a young man, I had lately arrived in Australia from England. I had been out hunting one day and lost my way. Night was coming on when suddenly I saw a light. Making my way to it, I found myself at a large farm. I asked permission of the farmer to let me pass the night there under cover. He said somewhat surlily "You can go into the barn if you like, but there is someone there already."
I was then totally ignorant of God and His grace, unconverted, a man of the world. So being in need of shelter and rest for the night, I thanked him and went into the barn. By the light of a lantern I saw another man lying in a corner coughing violently. Putting down my gun and shooting-bag, my only baggage, I went to him and asked if I could do anything for him.
Speaking with difficulty, he told me he also was an Englishman, and I learned he had attended the same university as I. In early life he had been unmanageable and his family had sent him out to the colonies. He led a dissolute life there for many years, and now he felt he was near death. He was anxious to find out what would then become of him.
Utterly careless of the hereafter myself, I said I thought the Bible was what he needed. "Oh," said he, "the Bible! Why, my mother put one in my box when I left home; I have never opened it."
At his request I went into a shed and got the Book and brought it to him.
"Now," said he, "where are we to turn?" We both confessed we did not know. "Well, clap it together," he said, "and see where it opens." I did so, and the book opened at Isaiah 53.
I began to read. "He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." The dying man asked me, "Who is He?"
I hazarded the reply, "Jesus Christ."
"Ah," he said, "go on"; and I read until I came to the words, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way."
"Stop," he said, "that's me, that's me! That's just what I have done all my life."
After a little while he said, "Go on."
"And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
"Ah," he said, "Jesus Christ," and then a minute or so after, "Read it again."
"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."
He lay back on the straw and I quietly read on. Turning over the pages I found some passages about Jesus Christ in the gospels. When he seemed tired I stopped and lay down and was soon fast asleep.
In the morning the beams of the sun were making their way through the boards of the barn when I awoke. Going over to where the sick man lay, I was struck by the change in him. His face seemed to have caught some of the sunbeams, he looked so happy and peaceful. With no cough, he was quite at rest. As I wondered what had happened to him, he spoke: The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all'—Jesus Christ is my Savior." He told me that he had given his heart to the One who had died for him; and for the day or two that he lingered he could not hear enough or talk enough of "Him."
Shortly before he passed away and while I tarried at the farm, he said to me, "I have a request to make of you. I want you to write in the fly-leaf of this Bible an account of your meeting with me here and reading to me in Isaiah 53:66All 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. (Isaiah 53:6) of the 'Him' it speaks about, Jesus Christ. Tell how I died believing on Him as my Savior. I want, if I can, to put my name to it, and for you to sign yours. Then send it to my father in London." And he gave me his address.
I did as he requested, and soon in the rush of a godless life forgot the incident. Many years later I was returning to London. Through God's grace I was a converted man; and musing over my life in Australia, I remembered this occasion and wondered whether the Bible ever reached the old father. I determined to call on him.
Shortly after my arrival, I sought out the old man. He was indeed very old. I made myself known to him, and inquired if he ever received the Bible. "Indeed I did," he said, and tottering to his feet he went over to his desk and produced the Book.
"Well do I remember receiving it," he said. "I was then a careless, godless man; but in infinite mercy, on reading what you and my poor son pointed me to in Isaiah 53:66All 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. (Isaiah 53:6), my eyes were opened to my sinful condition. Soon I found 'Him', Jesus Christ, my Savior, and from that time to this I have not ceased to praise Him."
Thus the Spirit of God active in grace encircles the globe, overcomes all obstacles, brings to bear the particular verse of Scripture at the particular 'time, and illuminates the soul as to Christ. May the readers of these lines be led by the same Spirit to know and confess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.