For six thousand years this world had struggled on through sin and strife, dis appointment and death, and for six thou sand years it had awaited the hour of deliverance. As the white cloud in the heavens drew nearer and nearer the earth, good and bad, rich and poor, beheld the coming of the King of kings. The saints stood with their eyes fixed upward, their faces lighted with the glory of God.
As I stood watching, suddenly I was conscious of someone at my side, and turning I saw the terror-stricken face of one of my neighbors. An accusing finger was thrust at me, and I heard the despairing words, "Why didn't you tell me these things were coming to pass? You who were a teacher of the gospel?"
I reminded her that I had invited her to an evangelistic meeting once, and several times I had given her a few papers to read that told of these things.
"But why did you not help me to understand how serious all this was? Why did you not plead with me, pray with me, and help me to see what I must do? Now I am lost--- lost!" And suddenly it seemed I saw accusing fingers all about me and heard the same despairing cry repeated over and over again, "Why did you not tell me?" and I felt for a moment that I would have been glad for the rocks to cover me and hide my shame and close my ears from hearing those despairing cries.
But just then an angel presence appeared before me, and I felt myself being lifted up from the earth. I thought I saw a look of sadness on the face of the angel as he heard the despairing cries ringing after us.
But heaven will blot out all the memory of that picture, I thought, as I was swept along with the glorified saints.
Then it seemed that we were at the gates of the Holy City. As Jesus swung aside those pearly portals and bade us enter, and as I looked upon a scene beautiful beyond all description, I re membered how we used to read of this time in the Holy Book and of the words of the apostle, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come," and I remembered the other words, "And let him that heareth say, Come." 1 And I thought again of those despairing cries as we mounted up from the earth.
Oh, if I could only say "Come" once more to some of those people! They would know I meant it this time. They would have to come. I would not rest until they had promised to get ready and come with me.
In the city there was set before us a beautiful table, many miles in length. On it were manna, the fruit of the tree of life, and many other kinds of fruits. The saints were gathering about it, their faces reflecting the joy of the heavenly beings that moved among them.
Then Jesus spoke and reminded us of the last supper He had with His disciples before His death on the cross, and how He had made a vow not to touch of the fruit of the vine until He would drink it together with His people in His kingdom.
Somehow it didn't seem right that the Lord should have made this renunciation of the good things of heaven; but then, after all, was not the cross itself the greatest and supreme sacrifice? Now, looking about heaven and all its glories, I began to have a little better comprehension of what the sacrifice on Calvary meant. With a pang I remembered that to save one soul Christ would have endured it all; for one soul He would have given His life. And again I thought of those terror-stricken faces of my neighbors. Surely I could have won at least one or two of them.
I remembered how many times some voice inside me seemed to say, "Go, tell them to pre pare." And sometimes I went, but it made me blush to think that many times I went grudgingly. I had so many other more interesting things to do and they were important too. There were so many programs to prepare for the Sabbath school and the Missionary Volun teer Society. There were the many talks to give and I always tried to make them inspirational. After all, was it not all the Lord's work?
Then I remembered the instruction God had given us, "Come close to men individually." 2 "By personal labor reach the people where they are. Become acquainted with them. This work cannot be done by proxy. Money loaned or given cannot accomplish it. Sermons from the pulpit cannot do it." 3 "There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort." 4
But, I had reasoned, so many are indifferent. How could I talk to people who were not interested? Why, it was just wasting time. But the answer came as memory recalled the words of instruction: "Go to the homes of those even who manifest no interest. While mercy's sweet voice invites the sinner, work with every energy of heart and brain, as did Paul, 'who ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.' " 5
Again I heard those accusing voices, " 'You knew [those things]! Why then did you not tell us?' " 6
I had been so entranced by the beauties of heaven that I had not paid much attention to the saints. Now my attention was caught by the crowns each one wore. Some were brilliant and studded with a multitude of stars. Others had but few. With a sudden fear I looked at my crown. How bare it seemed! Only a faint glitter here and there from an occasional star. One star shone brightly, though, and turning to the angel who stood by my side I asked him about it.
"Do you remember the girl who came to your house one day with her Bible and asked you to explain some of the things she had been hearing at the evangelistic meetings? You re member the hours you spent with her in study and prayer, how you felt you were willing to make any sacrifice to help her to find the way, and you worked and prayed until victory came. Now look," said the angel, pointing to a group under the trees.
There was this girl, and surrounding her were dozens of happy faces, and from where I stood I could catch a word now and then, and all were telling her how happy they were because she had helped them to have a part in all this glorious heritage. And I saw her crown, heavy and brilliant with stars.
Then, turning, she saw me and gave me a happy and grateful smile, and I found I was weeping ---weeping for joy that there was one soul that I had helped to be here, and rejoicing with her at the many others whom her ministry had blessed. Somehow I felt I had a little part in their rejoicing.
Again I thought of those who were left to perish below. Oh, if I could only go back to them now! I would not now begrudge the hours of labor, the time spent in prayer, the burden of soul from which I used to shrink.
I thought of the hours that had been spent in trivial things. It did not seem to matter so much now whether or not I had a new frock for every special occasion. The little luxuries I had worked so hard to get seemed very tawdry as I gazed upon the glory of heaven. I thought of my beautiful home, upon which I had spent so much time and effort, now crumbled in ruins below. The hours that had been wasted or spent in idle amusement in them how many souls I might have been able to talk to and bring to a knowledge of the Lord! And all the social gatherings we spent so much time in, how much had they done to win souls for the kingdom?
I remembered reading about bringing the "poor that are cast out"' to our houses, that "our sympathies are to overflow the boundaries of self and the enclosure of family walls." 8 I thought of those who would have appreciated an invitation to share our fellowship; if we had opened our hearts and homes, our sympathetic interest might have won many among them to the gospel.
So many lost opportunities flashed through my mind with uncomfortable clearness! How many times a word might have been spoken that could have caused new thoughts to take root in the mind and change the course of a life to the side of Christ! But it took effort to talk to the ones we might meet in our business or in the home and about our work day by day. Was it not enough to set a good example of right living before them?
As if in answer to my reasoning the words came to my mind, "We are to improve every opportunity of drawing souls to Christ." 9 Christ abiding in the heart "is a well of water springing up into everlasting life. You are guilty before God if you do not make every effort possible to dispense this living water to others." 10
I began to walk about, admiring the beauties of the Holy City, but somehow I felt a strange loneliness. I thought again of the happy group around my friend, and again and again I would see other similar groups, or hear someone cry out in joy as he caught sight of the person who had opened the way of salvation to him, and together they would mingle their praises to the Lord.
I saw a few others like myself whose crowns were light. They all seemed to be glad to be there, as I was, but somehow they did not seem to be getting the full measure of heaven's joys that others were finding.
Then suddenly it came over me with a great horror that this is what it meant when I used to read: "What we shall be in heaven is the reflection of what we are now in character and holy service." 11 These were they of whom it had been written that they "might have been instrumental in saving their fellow men. And even should they be saved at last, they will realize through all eternity the loss of opportunities wasted in probationary time." 12
Oh, what a terrible thought! To be unable to enjoy the full measure of heaven's blessings, to have to suffer a loss through all eternity for our life of self-caring on the earth! How we all used to look forward to this time for the fulfillment of all our desires and the enjoyment of every pleasure! Now, as these solemn words burned into my soul, as I stood watching the saints, I began to realize that to each had been given as his life on earth had fitted him. Had we not been told, "The Lord has a great work to be done, and He will bequeath the most in the future life to those who do the most faithful, willing service in the present life"? 13
The law of heaven is the law of service, and it is on earth that we learn to practice its principles. "And our reward for working with Christ in this world is the greater power and wider privilege of working with Him in the world to come." 14
Will heaven be to you the happy climax of a life of selfless service, bringing with it greater opportunities for ministry and increased blessings in the ages to come, or will there be in it for you, through an unwillingness to wear Christ's yoke of service below, the realization of an eternal loss?
2 Evangelism, p. 430.
3Ibid., pp. 440, 441.
4 Ibid., p. 459.
5 Ibid., p. 434.
6 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 28.
7 Isa. 58:7.
8 Ministry of Healing, p. 354.
9 Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 63.
10 Christian Service, p. 12.
11 Christ's object lessons, P. 361
12 Testimonies, vol.4, p. 460
13 Christ's object lessons p, 360
14 Ibid., p. 361.