A Vision of the Lost..

On one of my recent journeys, as I gazed from the coach window, I was led into a
train of thought concerning the condition of the multitudes around me. They were
living carelessly in the most open and shameless rebellion against God, without a
thought for their eternal welfare. As I looked out of the window, I seemed to see
them all . . . millions of people all around me given up to their drink and their
pleasure, their dancing and their music, their business and their anxieties, their
politics and their troubles, ignorant – willfully ignorant in many cases – and in other
instances knowing all about the truth and not caring at all. But all of them, the whole
mass of them, sweeping on and up in their blasphemies and devilries to the Throne
of God. While my mind was thus engaged, I had a vision.

I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them
every now and then vivid lightning flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds
moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam,
tower and break again.

In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating,
shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and
screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.

And I saw out of this dark angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with its summit
towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around
the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with
delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out
of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the
platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place
of safety.

On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued,
industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more
effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some
who actually jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences in their passion
to “rescue the perishing.” And I hardly know which gladdened me the most – the
sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety,
or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the
effort for their deliverance.

As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed
company. That is, they were divided into different “sets” or classes, and they
occupied themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few
of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.

But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at
one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all
about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer
troubled them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was
that these people did not even seem to have any care – that is any agonizing care –
about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their
very eyes . . . many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and
sisters and even their own children.

Now this astonishing unconcern could not have been the result of ignorance or lack
of knowledge, because they lived right there in full sight of it all and even talked
about it sometimes. Many even went regularly to hear lectures and sermons in which
the awful state of these poor drowning creatures was described.

I have always said that the occupants of this platform were engaged in different
pursuits and pastimes. Some of them were absorbed day and night in trading and
business in order to make gain, storing up their savings in boxes, safes and the like.
Many spent their time in amusing themselves with growing flowers on the side of the
rock, others in painting pieces of cloth or in playing music, or in dressing themselves
up in different styles and walking about to be admired. Some occupied themselves
chiefly in eating and drinking; others were taken up with arguing about the poor
drowning creatures that had already been rescued.

But the thing to me that seemed the most amazing was that those on the platform to
whom He called, who heard His voice and felt that they ought to obey it – at least
they said they did – those who confessed to love Him much were in full sympathy
with Him in the task He had undertaken – who worshipped Him or who professed to
do so – were so taken up with their trades and professions, their money saving and
pleasures, their families and circles, their religions and arguments about it, and their
preparation for going to the mainland, that they did not listen to the cry that came to
them from this Wonderful Being who had Himself gone down into the sea. Anyway, if
they heard it they did not heed it. They did not care. And so the multitude went on
right before them struggling and shrieking and drowning in the darkness.

And then I saw something that seemed to me even more strange than anything that
had gone on before in this strange vision. I saw that some of these people on the
platform to whom this Wonderful Being had called, wanting them to come and help
Him in His difficult task of saving these perishing creatures, were always praying and
crying out to Him to come to them!

Some wanted Him to come and stay with them, and spend His time and strength in
making them happier. Others wanted Him to come and take away various doubts
and misgivings they had concerning the truth of some letters He had written them.
Some wanted Him to come and make them feel more secure on the rock – so secure
that they would be quite sure that they should never slip off again into the ocean.
Numbers of others wanted Him to make them feel quite certain that they would
really get off the rock and onto the mainland someday; because as a matter of fact,
it was well known that some had walked so carelessly as to lose their footing, and
had fallen back again into the stormy waters.

So these people used to meet and get up as high on the rock as they could, and
looking towards the mainland (where they thought the Great Being was) they would
cry out, “Come to us! Come and help us!” And all the while He was down (by His
Spirit) among the poor struggling, drowning creatures in the angry deep, with His
arms around them trying to drag them out, and looking up – oh! so longingly but all
in vain – to those on the rock, crying to them with His voice all hoarse from calling,
“Come to Me! Come, and help Me!

And then I understood it all. It was plain enough. The sea was the ocean of life – the
sea of real, actual human existence. That lightning was the gleaming of piercing
truth coming from Jehovah’s Throne. That thunder was the distant echoing of the
wrath of God. Those multitudes of people shrieking, struggling and agonizing in the
stormy sea, was the thousands and thousands of poor harlots and harlot-makers, of
drunkards and drunkard makers, of thieves, liars, blasphemers and ungodly people
of every kindred, tongue and nation.

Oh what a black sea it was! And oh, what multitudes of rich and poor, ignorant and
educated were there. They were all so unalike in their outward circumstances and
conditions, yet all alike in one thing – all sinners before God – all held by, and holding
onto, some iniquity, fascinated by some idol, the slaves of some devilish lust, and
ruled by the foul fiend from the bottomless pit!

“All alike in one thing?” No, all alike in two things – not only the same in their
wickedness but, unless rescued, the same in their sinking, sinking . . . down, down,
down . . . to the same terrible doom. That great sheltering rock represented Calvary,
the place where Jesus had died for them. And the people on it were those who had
been rescued. The way they used their energies, gifts and time represented the
occupations and amusements of those who professed to be saved from sin and hell –
followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The handful of fierce, determined ones, who were
risking their own lives in saving the perishing were true soldiers of the cross of Jesus.
That Mighty Being who was calling to them from the midst of the angry waters was
the Son of God, “the same yesterday, today and forever” who is still struggling and
interceding to save the dying multitudes about us from this terrible doom of
damnation, and whose voice can be heard above the music, machinery, and noise of
life, calling on the rescued to come and help Him save the world.

My friends in Christ, you are rescued from the waters, you are on the rock. He is in
the dark sea calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go? Look for
yourselves. The surging sea of life, crowded with perishing multitudes rolls up to the
very spot on which you stand. Leaving the vision, I now come to speak of the fact – a
fact that is as real as the Bible, as real as the Christ who hung upon the cross, as
real as the judgment day will be, and as real as the heaven and hell that will follow

Look! Don’t be deceived by appearances – men and things are not what they seem.
All who are not on the rock are in the sea! Look at them from the standpoint of the
great White Throne, and what a sight you have! Jesus Christ, the Son of God is,
through His Spirit, in the midst of this dying multitude, struggling to save them. And
He is calling on you to jump into the sea – to go right away to His side and help Him
in the holy strife. Will you jump? That is, will you go to His feet and place yourself
absolutely at His disposal?

A young Christian once came to me, and told me that for some time she had been
giving the Lord her profession and prayers and money, but now she wanted to give
Him her life. She wanted to go right into the fight. In other words, she wanted to go
to His assistance in the sea. As when a man from the shore, seeing another
struggling in the water, takes off those outer garments that would hinder his efforts
and leaps to the rescue, so will you who still linger on the bank, thinking and singing
and praying about the poor perishing souls, lay aside your shame, your pride, your
cares about other people’s opinions, your love of ease and all the selfish loves that
have kept you back for so long, and rush to the rescue of this multitude of dying
men and women.

Does the surging sea look dark and dangerous? Unquestionably it is so. There is no
doubt that the leap for you, as for everyone who takes it, means difficulty and scorn
and suffering. For you it may mean more than this. It may mean death. He who
beckons you from the sea however, knows what it will mean – and knowing, He still
calls to you and bids to you to come.

You must do it! You cannot hold back. You have enjoyed yourself in Christianity long
enough. You have had pleasant feelings, pleasant songs, pleasant meetings, pleasant
prospects. There has been much of human happiness, much clapping of hands and
shouting of praises – very much of heaven on earth.

Now then, go to God and tell Him you are prepared as much as necessary to turn
your back upon it all, and that you are willing to spend the rest of your days
struggling in the midst of these perishing multitudes, whatever it may cost you.
You must do it. With the light that is now broken in upon your mind and the call that
is now sounding in your ears, and the beckoning hands that are now before your
eyes, you have no alternative. To go down among the perishing crowds is your duty.
Your happiness from now on will consist in sharing their misery, your ease in sharing
their pain, your crown in helping them to bear their cross, and your heaven in going
into the very jaws of hell to rescue them.

William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army


One Comment Add yours

  1. ceemee says:

    Hmm…Easier said than done. God is the only one that can make it into reality though. ‘Cus with human power,it wouldn’t be possible to take up the mantle. God please take control….

    Am reblog oo. Am I allowed?

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