I turned to go, but my attention was suddenly held by the movement of a young woman who had risen from one of the benches near the water and approached the edge of the embankment purposefully. Something in her attitude put a chill in my heart, so I walked toward her.
"Excuse me," I began quietly. She turned nervously and looked wildly around as though seeking to escape. Her eyes, filled with depths of sorrow and disillusionment, startled even one who was accustomed to meeting life's derelicts every day in a mission hall in London.
"Forgive a stranger's speaking to you," I said, "but I am a minister, on my way to the Gospel Hall around the next corner. You are distressed and troubled. Would you come to the service tonight? There you might find rest from your trouble in One who is ready to be your Friend."
At my mention of the word "minister," her face fell, and she said indignantly, "No, I don't want to go to your meeting. Leave me alone."
Earlier in the afternoon, my hostess had presented me with a perfect white rose. Though I would not have chosen to wear a boutonniere, I felt I should accept and wear it. Now, acting on an impulse I did not understand, I took the rose from my lapel and held it out to her. It was a strange gesture but I dared not disobey what I felt to be the leading of the Spirit.
"Will you accept this white rose?" I asked gently. "Perhaps it will remind you that there are friends who want to help you if you will come."
"No,—oh, no," she gasped. She drew back as though I had struck her. Mixed emotions struggled in her face. Then, she reached out and grasped the rose, and I saw there were tears on her face. I had to go, but invited her once more to come.
As I finished speaking that evening, I saw, back in the corner, the young woman to whom I had spoken on the embankment. She suddenly rose to her feet, walked forward and began to speak, apparently unaware of the curious gaze of the congregation.
"I've been listening to the invitations to 'come to Jesus' and I want to come. Do you think He could save such a sinner as I am?" she asked brokenly.
"I was going to end it all tonight in the river because I couldn't go on any longer in the life I've lived for five years. I was just ready to jump when that gentleman there spoke to me and asked me to come here. I rudely refused him. And then he gave me this white rose. I didn't want it at first, but then I had to take it. It was like the rose my mother gave me when I left home five years ago. It was her favorite flower.
"As I took this rose tonight, I heard again her voice as she told me goodbye. 'Ellen, my dear, you are leaving your mother much against her wish, to go into a sinful world and, I fear, into a sinful life. When you are far away and you see a white rose, remember that your mother's parting gift to you will be followed by prayer for the return of her child. Neither day nor night will I cease to pray that God may bring you home again, saved.'
"This pure, white rose brought me to my senses tonight. I knew I had to find the way, if it is open to me. The minister said there was One who would help me. Do you think He would accept a sinner like me?"
It was not difficult to answer her question. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow." "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Isaiah 1:18; John 3:16).
She listened attentively as we gave these and other verses, then bursting into tears she dropped to her knees, repented to God and trusted the Lord Jesus as her Saviour. She arose a new creature in Christ. Her first desire was to get home to her mother. The years have passed, but this one snatched from the very jaws of suicidal death is still rejoicing in Christ and ever eager to witness to Christ's saving power. —Selected"
"The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin " (1 John 1:7). "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins " (Acts 10:43). "By Him all that believe are justified from all things" (Acts 13:39).
Gospel Series No. 212
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presented to you by the Bread On The Waters Ministry
of Kraig Josiah Rice