The Soldier's Daughter

I.—the Unheeded Voice
"Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me."—Rev. 3:2020Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20).
LYDIA was the daughter of a poor, honest, industrious, soldier, who died when she was still very young: and then the widowed mother found it very hard work to provide food for herself, and for her little ones. Consequently when Lydia was old enough to go to school, her mother was only too pleased to allow a kind soldier's wife to take her to be a little nursemaid to her own children. Thus, although Lydia grew up active and industrious, she knew not the advantages of an early education, nor did she know the things that belonged to her peace.
I first became acquainted with her while visiting her sick brother. He, dear fellow, never had much learning, but
"He heard the words of love;
He gazed upon the blood;
He saw the mighty sacrifice,
And He had peace with God.”
And ere he fell asleep, he rejoiced to know that he was going to be with Christ; which is “far better.”
Then it was, while Lydia's heart was softened by bereavement, and 'while she mourned the death of her brother, that the Lord spake in love to her. Again and again she was invited, yea, entreated, to come to Jesus—to the One who had saved her brother—and she was almost persuaded; but she did not come. For she hardened her heart against the pleadings of the loving voice of Him who gave His life for her, and who shed. His precious blood to cleanse her from all sin. Yet the Lord dealt very tenderly with Lydia.
To be close to her bereaved mother, she left her situation, and obtained another, nearer home.
Her new master and. mistress were both Christians; and the latter especially was very kind to Lydia, and began to teach her to read: and she often read the Word of God to her. But for all this, Lydia did not heed His voice. Like too many others, she did not come to Him that she might have life.
Her beloved mother received the glad tidings into her heart, and she began to rejoice in God her Saviour: but still Lydia was afar off from God.
She became acquainted about this tithe with a young man, who wooed and won her heart's affections; and she left her situation to be married. And the light-hearted bride crossed the threshold of her mother's door, fondly anticipating that for many years to come she should be happy in her husband's love. But, alas, Lydia was still a stranger to Him who loves with more than human affection.
As time sped on, the Lord gave to her a little son. He gave her to taste a mother's joy; she knew a husband's affection, but she did not know the
"Love that no tongue can teach,
Love that no thought can reach:
(No love like His).”
Lydia had a tenderly beloved sister. She was her only sister, and this sister fell sick, and died. Minnie was gone to be with Christ, for she had sought and found peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, once again, the Lord with unwearied affection invited Lydia to come unto Him, and rest: but she heeded not His voice. Yet the Lord loved Lydia; poor sinful Lydia. He saw that her heart was set upon "things temporal," and in mercy He put forth His hand—Lydia was taken ill, and a few months after the commencement of her illness, the fair young bride of only two or three years before, returned to her mother's house a confirmed invalid, wan and pale, and still unsaved.
When I went in as usual to read to her mother, I was struck with Lydia's altered appearance. She listened while I read, but not with the interest one would fain have noticed.
The next time I called, she had gone upstairs to lie down. And I asked, “Does she display any desire for salvation?”
Her mother sadly answered, “No. She does not appear to be much concerned about her soul.”
Then, in sadness of heart, we together, upon beaded knees, entreated the Lord to have mercy upon poor Lydia.
2.—the Opened Ear
“Will you please go upstairs? Lydia is worse.”
Thus I was accosted upon nay next visit; and the words caused my heart to thrill with emotion, as I ascended the staircase.
I was soon seated at Lydia's bedside. She was indeed worse, and upon her countenance there was an expression of sorrow, such as I had never noticed there before.
What did all this mean? I was soon to hear.
Her mother arose, and left the room. Then Lydia turned to me, and she began to speak with the air of one who has something dreadful to tell.
She said, “Last Monday, I went down into the town, and I met with a friend who told me she was very sorry to see me looking so ill; and she said to me, ‘Do you ever think about the Lord?’ I replied, ‘If I am going to die, I will; but if I am going to live, I won’t’.
" I had hardly said this, when a dreadful feeling came over me, I felt as if I should die in the street; and I cried out aloud in the street to the Lord to have mercy upon me—They got me home, and here I have been ever since "—and, bursting into tears, she added, " I know that I was very wicked to say it, and night and day I cry to the Lord to have mercy upon me—I do not think that Re will cast me off." Then, entirely overcome with emotion, poor Lydia hid her face in the bed-clothes, and wept bitterly.
While she was weeping, I felt constrained to lift up my heart in silent thanksgiving to the Lord, because she was now sorrowing unto repentance.
When she had become a little more calm, I read, “God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not." Then I turned to her, and said, “When your brother fell asleep in Jesus, did not God then speak to your heart?”
“And when the Lord took your sister to be with Himself forever, did He not again speak to your heart?”
“Yes," she again answered, sorrowfully.
Then I told her that the voice which she had for so long a time refused to hear, was the voice of One who had spoken to her because He loved her, and I read on to the words, "He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing.”
I then went on to show her how mercifully the Lord had dealt with her. He had given her time to consider—to turn from her evil ways; and even until now He had spared her life, when He might at any moment have justly cut her off with a stroke.
She owned that it was all true. He had ever been good to her, yet she had turned away, and would not listen to His voice.
Indeed, it was the knowledge of all this that now caused her heart to overflow with sorrow; for, of all the sins of which she had ever been guilty, she rightly estimated that the sin of hardening the heart against God is, in His sight, the very worst of all sins. And she knew that she was a sinner without excuse, in in the sight of a holy God; a poor lost sinner.
But, by the grace of God, Lydia had an opened ear that Sunday afternoon; and she eagerly listened, while I told her of the love which a holy God displayed towards us poor sinners, when He gave His only begotten Son, that we might live through Him.
And I told her of Jesus, and of His blood which cleanseth from all sin; and 'pointed her to Jesus as the sinner's sole refuge—the only One by whom a sinner can come unto the Father, and also told her that He came to seek and to save the lost.
I turned to Luke 7:36-5036And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. 37And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. 40And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 41There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. 47Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:36‑50)., and read to her that sweet record of the gracious manner in which Jesus, the Saviour, once received a a woman "which was a sinner." He gave this sinner liberty to take her place at His feet, and to express in tears and kisses all the pent up feelings of her heart. And He would not send her away until He, with His own lips, told her that all her sins were forgiven. Then He allowed her to "go in peace.”
Then, turning to Lydia, I asked, “If the Lord Jesus were on earth now, and if He told you Himself that all your sins were forgiven, would you believe what He said?”
“Oh, yes.”
“Well, every word which is written, in the Word of God is just as true as if He spake them to you with His own lips. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'”
The time had come for me to go: so I entreated the Lord to open Lydia's eyes that she might see and believe, and be saved. And ere I left the room, she said—
"I know he will not cast me off. He will let me know I'm saved before He takes me.”
The next Wednesday, at about midnight, Lydia called out to her mother, saying that she could get no sleep.
“And mother, I feel such a heavy load here,” said she, putting her hand upon her side. “Mother, I feel that I am lost"— and the perspiration stood in large drops upon Lydia's forehead.
Her mother knew not what to do. She knew the truth herself, but was unable to expound it to her anxious daughter. Lydia had learned to read a little; so her mother went and got her a Testament.
Eagerly Lydia opened the book, and read, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
On read Lydia, for a chapter or two, and as she read, the Spirit applied the Word of God in saving power to her heart. She then and there received the truth as it is in Jesus.
And that very night, Lydia said in triumph to her mother—
“Mother, my load is all gone now. I feel that if I were to die at once, I should go straight to heaven.”
Lydia had passed from death unto life.
3.—a Welcome Voice
"He gooth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers."—John 10:4, 54And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:4‑5).
When I next saw Lydia, she was sitting downstairs, and oh, how different was her appearance. Her countenance no longer bore the impress of sorrow of heart, but there beamed upon her features such a peaceful, happy expression, that I felt sure that she had heard His voice, and was at peace.
Yet I would hear from her own lips, so I asked—
“Well, have you got it?”
“Do you know that the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed you from all sin?”
“And can you now say, like Mary of old said, My spirit cloth rejoice in God, my Saviour?'”
It was not much that Lydia said that day, for there were several people in the room with us, yet she spake with the simplicity of a newborn babe in Christ. And we that were Christians, rejoiced together with her: yea, with the Good Shepherd; because He had found the sheep which was lost.
After this I saw Lydia frequently.
At first, Satan took advantage of her ignorance of the Word of God, and he sorely tempted her with doubts and fears. But her desire now was to hear His voice, and she soon learned to distinguish between "His voice," and the voice of the "stranger.”
Lydia was now grateful to anyone who would read or speak to her of Jesus. As week followed week, she gradually became more, and more enfeebled in body, yet, with ever increasing delight, she listened to "His voice;" and she grew in grace, and in the knowledge and love of God.
During one of my visits, she was in such intense pain of body, that she could not refrain from crying out, at times, while I was reading.
And words like these escaped her lips. “Jesus! dear Jesus! ease me." These involuntary expressions bore witness that she had learned to lean "upon her Beloved" (Cant. 8:5).
Lydia at one time felt timid at the thought of death. She said to her mother, one day—
“I pray to the Lord to remove from me all fear of death, and I have faith to believe that He will take away all my fear, before I come to die." And she was not disappointed.
The doctor called her mother downstairs one day, to tell her that her daughter could not live. Then Lydia said to her mother—
“The doctor had no need to call you down-stairs to tell you that. I heard all that he said.
I know that I am going to die, yet I'm not going to die; for I'm going to live with Jesus, forever and ever, in heaven.”
The last few days of her sojourn on earth were days of joy, of triumph, and of peace. As friends gathered around her bedside, the dying one felt happier than they all. If loving ones could not refrain from weeping, Lydia could not refrain from rejoicing, as she listened to hear once more "His voice," calling to her, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Oh, how great is the love of Jesus! He spake to poor sinful Lydia; she heard “His voice;” she believed on Him; and she was saved from wrath through Him.
And He did not cast her off. He enabled her to rejoice in God her Saviour; He removed from her all fear of death; and then He took her to be with Himself forever.
Dear reader, are you one of those who “hear His voice," and" follow Him"? Or, do you listen to a "stranger's" voice, content to be led captive by Satan, at his will?
"Hark! Jesus speaks in love to thee,
Oh, listen, sinner, now.”
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto 'them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand " (John 10:27, 2827My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:27‑28)).
A. J.