The Birthday Morning

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 5
IT was a bright, sunny morning in June.
From the window all was beautiful—the golden green meadows, the still water, and the old forest of oak and beech trees. But there was nothing so beautiful as a little child who came capering into the room, looking bright as a sunbeam. She held up her little white frock, which was filled with toys. It was her birthday morning, and she was now three. She had come to show her mother the presents she had already had from brothers, and sisters, and nurses.
One by one she laid them on the table, and then suddenly she knelt down at her mother's dressing stool. "O Lord Jesus," she said, "I do thank you for all the nice things what you have given me. I thank you for my doll, and for my little work-box, and for all my things. And oh, Lord Jesus, I thank you that you was punished instead of me. Amen." Then she got up, and looked gravely at her mother, and said—
“You see I 'membered about His being punished.”
She had often spoken of Him before, but from this time she spoke of Him continually, to all in the house, to the children with whom she played, to the village people in their cottages. And to her mother she said sometimes—
“I am going to be with Jesus. Soon I shall be gone; you will go all about the house, and you will see me nowhere. There will be no Ada, but you mustn't mind, for I shall be with Jesus.”
And so it was. Nine months after that birthday morning, the Lord took her to be with Himself.
It comforted her mother to write down the things which she had said, and how the Lord had taught her during her little life to be gentle, obedient, and unselfish. But the greatest comfort was to remember the words she had said on her last birthday morning, and often afterward.
The little story was printed and translated into other languages, and found its way into many strange places. The Lord had taken His little servant to be with Him, but He still meant to work by her down here, in the sad, dark world out of which He had saved her. One day, at a railway station, a stranger came up to Ada's mother, and said—
"You will forgive me for speaking to you, for know you are Ada's mother, and you will be glad to hear what I am going to tell you.”
Then the lady went on to say that she had a friend, an old lady, who had always been religious, and kind, and conscientious, but she had never been happy. She was always frightened when she thought of dying. "It is so terrible," she said, "to know that one ma/ die, and not to know what will be afterward! for however one may try to do one's best, one can never be sure. God must punish sin, and I have many, many sins to remember. I pray that He will forgive me, but it is an awful thought that I must one day stand before His judgment seat.”
At last one day the story of the birthday morning was given to this old lady, and her fears and her doubts passed away forever.
“For now," she said, "I see that Jesus has been punished instead of me, and whilst I was once afraid of dying, now I look forward to it, and am perfectly happy.”
And soon came the glad tidings that others besides, had found joy and peace through the words of the little child; grownup men and women, and little children, not only those who were soon to die, but those who could live to show that they had passed from darkness to light, from the power of. Satan unto God. Some in the slums of London, one the daughter of a thief; some in homes which the world would call bright and beautiful, but where there were hearts more dark and desolate than many in the London alleys.
In such a beautiful home, in a foreign land, a young man was dying of terrible disease after years of suffering. "You will be glad to hear," a friend wrote,” that little Ada's words seemed to come to Prince from heaven, and to bring him perfect peace and joy. He passed away, saying that he would he happy forever with Jesus, who had died for him.”
Year after year these good tidings came, and meanwhile someone who had read the little story, wrote some simple verses, telling what the child had said on that birthday morning. Each verse ended with the blessed words that had brought peace to so many souls: "Jesus was punished instead of me.”
About twenty years after that birthday, a little boy learned these verses. He was taught to say them by his mother, who knew and loved the Lord Jesus. Others of the family were also believers in Jesus. But there was one who was very dear to his mother, to whom the gospel of God was foolishness. This was her brother, who lived in the same town, and had made a boast that he never troubled himself about "religious nonsense." There are many people such as he was, sensible, and intelligent, and strongminded as to the things of this world, and who feel quite sure that sound common sense is all that is needed for this life; and as to what follows, one knows nothing about it, so it is a part of that same good sense not to trouble oneself about it.
It happened that this man had some slight illness, which kept him at home for a few days. On one of these days, which was Sunday, his sister sent her little boy to see how he was. The boy found his uncle lying on the sofa. When he had given his message, his uncle said to him, "You can stay a little, and amuse me. Say me some of your poetry.”
The little boy began to repeat the verses he liked so much, about little Ada.
“What is that?" his uncle said, stopping him suddenly. "Jesus was punished instead of me?”
“Yes," said the little boy, repeating the verse.
“What does that mean?" asked his uncle. "Why did Ada say that?”
“She said it because it really happened," the little boy answered. "Jesus was punished instead.”
“How does anyone know that?" asked his uncle, looking like someone suddenly waked up to a new thought.
“It is in the Bible," replied the child; "mother has often told it me.”
“I cannot believe it is in the Bible," said the man who had so long spoken with scorn of the book he knew so little. "Go and fetch your mother; tell her to come to me at once, and bring her Bible.”
The child obeyed, and in a short time came back with his mother.
“Is it true that it is in the Bible that Jesus was punished instead of us? I cannot believe it is there," said her brother.
The good woman opened her Bible and read: "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Christ was once offered, to bear the sins of many. God hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin. Christ died for our sins. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. 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.”
“But," said her brother, suddenly, "if this really happened, I am saved!”
“It did really happen, and if you will believe it, you are saved," replied his sister.
“It is wonderful! Why did no one ever tell me this before? Yes, He was punished instead of me-and if so, God is satisfied!”
And from that moment the scoffing unbeliever was a new creature in Christ Jesus. He had passed from death to life. You may wonder how it was, that he did not first begin to inquire whether the Bible was true. He had professed that he did not believe it, and yet he received those words into his heart without doubt or question, and was perfectly assured then, and ever afterward, that they are the words of God. How was it that he needed no argument to prove to him that God had really said these things?
Do you think that when the blind man's eyes are opened, he needs any argument to prove to him that the sun is in the sky? — that when the deaf man's ears are unstopped, he needs a proof that men have voices? And when God has spoken to the heart, none who have heard His voice have ever doubted again whose voice it was they heard. "The dead hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." It is the voice that wakes the dead in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. And it had spoken to the heart of that man, so long dead in trespasses and sins.
From that moment he was a humble and rejoicing believer in Jesus. He was soon well again, and his whole life was the proof of the great and glorious change which the voice of Christ had wrought in him. He spoke to all around of the Saviour who had died for him.
“It was Ada who taught it me," he said to his sister. "I should like to know more about her. Tell me all you know.”
Then his sister gave him the little story. He read it again and again, and kept it always near him.
Four years later he became very ill. His sister went to see him, and found that he was dying.
“I am going to Him who died for me," he said; "it was that little girl who showed it to me. Bring me the little book, and put it in my hand. I want to die with that story in my hand, because it was Ada who led me to Jesus.”
And so with the book in his hand he fell asleep. "A little child shall lead them." F. B.