Rendezvous in a Snowstorm

 

A snowflake is a mighty thing.

Especially when it teams up.

It left Napoleon’s army frozen in Russia and, more than a century later, did the same to Hitler’s.

Each winter, I think I miss the snow of my native New England – until I see a news report on the most recent “major storm”. I watch the blinding winds, stranded travelers, and steep snow banks.

Then I re-think my position. Texas isn’t so bad. Until July, when contentment once again eludes me.

Storms, for all their inconvenience, are providential of course.

“He gives snow like wool,” writes the Psalmist. “He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments; who can stand before His cold?” (Psalm 147:16-17, NASB).

Such was the case for a teenager walking to church one Sunday morning. Deeply troubled in his young soul and unable to truly find God in any way that made sense or gave relief to his perplexities, he ventured out into a howling snowstorm to find his answer.

The boy, 15, struggled against the bitter gale that blew off the coast this Lord’s Day. Unable to go on to the church he had planned to attend, he remembered his mother telling him of a Methodist church closer by. And so, seeking shelter, he turned down the side street and entered the small chapel.

Warming himself by the pot bellied stove, the lad looked around. There were perhaps a dozen or more people sitting in the wooden pews. Brave souls who had braved the storm.

The youngster took a seat toward the back, underneath the balcony.

The preacher emerged and ascended the platform. This was not the regular pastor – he had been snowed in.

The lad eyed the tall, guant and somewhat dishevled older man with suspicion befitting a teen. He figured this was “a shoemaker, or tailor or something of that sort”.

After the singing of a few hymns, the old man rose to preach.

Taking as his text Isaiah 45:22, he began to read:

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

As would be the case for many teenagers, the young man was barely able to subdue his cynical contempt. Being a very bright and intellectually-inclined lad he concluded “this man was really stupid”.

He listened just the same, through the awkward pauses and stammering mispronunciations.

Still, the older gent warmed to his subject.

“My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look’. Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look’.”

The man told the congregation that it didn’t need a college education to look and that “even a child can look. But the text says, ‘Look unto Me’”

“Ay!” the old man smiled. “Many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves.”

The preacher sadly shook his head and then peered out on the small huddled group of worshipers. Raising his reedy voice, he proclaimed:

“Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me’”

He became more emphatic, speaking of Jesus’ suffering, death, burial and resurrection – each time punctuating his message with the refrain “‘Look unto Me!’”

Finally he concluded his sermon:

“O poor sinner, look unto Me! Look unto Me!”

As he surveyed his small gathering, he noticed the teenager sitting partially hidden under the balcony. He knew he was a stranger.

“Young man, you look very miserable, and you always will be miserable – miserable in life and miserable in death – if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.”

It was a very personal invitation!

Raising his arms in the air, the old man shouted at the youth:

“Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but look and live.”

The lad, startled though he was, did just that. In this moment, he had discovered his answer. God had found him and saved him.

Of this he was certain.

Years later, he recalled that gray, snow-swept Sunday morning:

“I was so joyous that I could scarcely refrain from dancing. I thought on my road home from the house where I had been set at liberty, that I must tell the stones in the street the story of my deliverance. So full was my soul of joy, that I wanted to tell every snowflake that was falling from heaven of the wondrous love of Jesus.”

It was January 6, 1850 in Colchester, England.

Young Charles Haddon Spurgeon went out from that small Methodist church that day to become the greatest preacher of 19th century England and one of the greatest the world has ever known.

In just four years, at 19, he would be pastoring a large church in London.

God filled Spurgeon’s churches with thousands. In 34 years of ministry it is estimated that he preached to ten million people. His published works, mostly his sermons, have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide and remain readily in print to this day.

Spurgeon is the most widely-published author in history.

He was known as “The Prince of Preachers”.

He never saw the old man again.

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