Ever wonder just how many opportunities we either squander, ignore, or just miss to share our faith or encourage others? I came across this story about John Wesley and just had to share it:
Wesley And The Robber
As John Wesley rode across Hounslow Heath late one night, singing a favorite hymn, he was startled by a fierce voice shouting, “Halt,” while a firm hand seized the horse’s bridle. Then the man demanded, “Your money or your life.”
Wesley obediently emptied his pockets of the few coins they contained and invited the robber to examine his saddlebags which were filled with books. Disappointed at the result, the robber was turning away when Mr. Wesley cried, “Stop! I have something more to give you.”
The robber, wondering at this strange call, turned back. Then Mr. Wesley, bending down toward him, said in solemn tones, “My friend, you may live to regret this sort of a life in which you are engaged. If you ever do, I beseech you to remember this, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.””
The robber hurried silently away, and the man of God rode along, praying in his heart that the word spoken might be fixed in the robber’s conscience.
Years later, at the close of a Sunday evening service, the people streamed from the large building with many lingering around the doors to see the aged preacher, who was John Wesley.
A stranger stepped forward and earnestly begged to speak with Mr. Wesley. What a surprise to find that this was the robber of Hounslow Heath, now a well-to-do tradesman in the city, but better still, a child of God! The words spoken that night long ago had been used of God in his conversion.
Raising the hand of Mr. Wesley to his lips, he affectionately kissed it and said in tones of deep emotion, “To you, dear sir, I owe it all.”
“Nay, nay, my friend,” replied Mr. Wesley softly, “not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ which cleanseth us from all sin.”
Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc..
Often, the choices we make in our every day lives affect more than we realize. For example, what if John Wesley reacted to the robber in a different way? What if he responded in anger, or even forcibly resisted the robber [like many of us would have] ? Think of the implications for his life, and for that of the robber’s that would have had! This story reinforces that fact that God is fully in control of everything, that He endlessly orchestrates our lives such that we are used by Him to achieve His purposes [Romans 8:28], and that our actions [and our sins] do not only affect us, but those around us. In this example, we see two truths from God’s Word being lived out. The first, from the book of James:
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
Wesley listened to the urging of the Holy Spirit, and obeyed the will of God when he called out to the robber the second time. The second truth we see comes from the writings of the prophet Isaiah:
“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)
God had a plan when He allowed Wesley and the robber to meet. He intended for this encounter to be the one thing that truly brought about change in the robber’s heart. We all have that one event, experience, etc. which brings us to the point wherein we realize that we need a Savior! May we all, each day, look for and take advantage of any and all opportunities to spread the Gospel, to encourage one another, to teach one another, and speak the truth [God’s Word] in love. PAY ATTENTION!! -your life or someone else’s may be “hanging in the balance”!