I was on a journey to Calcutta, after having decided to sever my connection with the Church of Rome, and was going to my people to live with them till such time as the Lord would show me an opening for His service. Seated by a window in a crowded compartment, I was disinterestedly watching the wayside scenery which had become familiar to me, because of the many journeys that in course of some twelve years I had made between Calcutta and Agra. The train roaring at the crossings was speeding towards its destination, and at the moment it passed Fatehpur, I decided to indulge in smoking, a habit which I had acquired during the years that I was a member of the Church of Rome, and to which I was introduced by a priest, as an 'innocent luxury.' I pulled out a cigarette
and drew a match-box from my pocket, but instantly there arose before me the picture of the puritanic life of my people at home in Calcutta - my brothers, all non-smokers, and my mother who regarded the habit as pernicious. Could I, a follower of Christ, afford to be less than they in this matter? From the unlit cigarette I lifted up my gaze and looking at my Master I caught sight of His holy Lips, and instantly the cigarette tin and the match-box were thrown out of the window. Smokers often speak of the difficulty that is experienced in the efforts to get free from the grip of nicotine, but the Lord spared me from such difficulty in overcoming the habit. A three-years' habit was broken in a moment, and one look at the Master did it.
The incident illustrates the life that I have found in Christ. In accepting Christianity I have accepted the leadership of One who is able to change life, and give strength in weakness. He enables me to overcome things which mar and destroy life, and gives peace in my heart and grace to live victoriously, and grants the right of citizenship in Heaven. I find that Christianity is Christ, and that to be a Christian means to live in His fellowship, so that when faced with temptation and assailed on every side by the rising tide of doubts and despair or grief, it is enough to look into His face and yield all to His safe keeping, and He does the rest. My manifold needs are met by His manifold grace. When in life's journey I am led into a path which like a long tunnel is dark and dreary, a tighter grip of His hand gives the assurance that all is well, and my soul cries out: "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." When tempted
to bad temper I can draw on His patience, when to harsh judgment on His gentleness, and when to impurity I can make His dazzling purity my shield and shelter. When despised by men and rejected by friends, I find Him to be the one precious gift of God on Whom I can rely and to whom I can fly.
When I look back at the path already traversed in life, I find it strewn with many failures and faults and shortcomings, but it is marvellous how He has sufficed, and how He made me rise when I fell and gave me strength when I proved to be too weak to walk. "Yes, through life, death, through sorrow and through sinning, He has sufficed, and shall suffice." And thus it is that
So the experience shows that Christianity is not a mere acceptance of certain beliefs and dogmas, though they are necessary, but essentially it is living in close fellowship with Christ. It is not only a religion to be practised, but also a life to be lived. Before I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour my conception of goodness and virtues was in the form of negation-truth, for example, was merely the absence of falsehood, purity only the absence of impurity, righteousness was merely a negation of unrighteous deeds and so on, but in Christ I see them in their full splendour, positively existing, and far too sublime to be comprehended in their fullness by any mortal mind. It is something like the way I got an idea of whiteness in its greater purity than I had known before when I gazed at the sun-kissed snow which lies perpetually
on the Himalayan peaks, or when I stood looking at the snow-flakes on the surface of the frozen lake beyond Gulmarg in Kashmir. He is not only righteous but righteousness Himself, He is not only loving, but inasmuch as God is Love He is love incarnate. So the only way to know these virtues or goodness is to allow Him to dwell within one's heart. He who has lived in the fellowship of a great artist knows the true joy that art brings to the aesthetic sense of man similarly the fellowship of an athlete enamours one with the charm of living in full physical strength of one's life, and likewise the constant companionship of a good musician attunes one's soul and trains one's ear to the sound of music and to its appreciation. No amount of reading about mountains can give that feeling of joy which a mountaineer experiences in actually climbing the steep peaks and living surrounded by mountain scenery. These and other qualities of life cannot be acquired by mere reading about them, but by living in personal contact with persons who embody these qualities in their own life. Thus it is that, the more we live with Him the more we know of the Divine qualities as He reveals them to the extent that our feeble soul is able to comprehend them. God is infinite and so there is no limit to His love, goodness, purity and all other Divine attributes. One mountain peak of His experience leads to another, and thus we go higher and still higher. At every peak I find myself exclaiming: "O unsearchable riches of Christ!"
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