I dreamed I was on my way to school, when suddenly I noticed a great crowd upon the green. People were hurrying to and fro, and when I asked what all this commotion was about, a girl said, “Why, don’t you know? It’s Measuring Day and the Lord’s angel has come to see how much our souls have grown since last Measuring Day.”
“Measuring Day!” said I; “Measuring souls! I had never heard of such a thing.” I began to ask questions but the girl hurried on, and after a little while I let myself be hurried along with the crowd to the green.
There in the center, on a kind of throne under the green elm, was the most glorious and beautiful being I ever saw. He had white wings, his clothes were shining white and he had the kindest yet most serious face I ever beheld. By his side was a tall golden rod, fastened upright in the ground, with curious marks at regular intervals from the top to the bottom. Over it, in a golden scroll, were the words, “The measure of a perfect man.”
The angel held in his hand a large book in which he wrote the measurements of the people as they came up when their names were called. The instant each one touched the golden measuring rod a most wonderful thing happened. Each one shrank or grew according to his true dimensions — his spiritual dimensions, as I soon learned, for it was an index of the soul growth that was shown in this mysterious way. No one could escape the terrible accuracy of that strange rod.
The first few who were measured after I came I did not know, but soon the name of Elizabeth D. was called. She is the president of the Aid for the Destitute Society, and she manages many other societies too. I thought, “Surely Elizabeth D.’s measurement will be very high indeed.”
But as she stood by the rod, the instant she touched it she seemed to grow shorter and shorter, and the angel’s face grew very serious as he said, “This would be a soul of high stature if only the zeal for outside works, which can be seen of men, had not checked the lowly, secret graces of humility, and trust, and patience under little daily trials. These, too, are needed for perfect soul growth.”
I pitied Elizabeth D. as she moved away with such a sad and surprised face to make room for the next person. It was poor, thin, little Betsy L., the seamstress. I never was more astonished in my life than when she stood by the rod. She immediately grew in height till her mark was higher than any I had seen previously, and her face did shine. I thought her face must have caught its light from the angel, who smiled so gloriously that I envied poor little Betsy, whom before I had rather looked down upon. As the angel wrote in his book he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5:3).
The next one was Lillian E., who dresses so beautifully that I have often wished that I had such clothes and so much money. The angel looked sadly at her measurement, for it was very low — so low that Lillian turned pale as death. No one noticed her beautiful clothes at all, for they were quite overshadowed by the glittering robe beside her. The angel said in a solemn tone, “Oh child, why take thought for raiment? Let your adorning be not the outward adorning of putting on of apparel, but let it be the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Pet. 3:3-4). Thus only can thee grow like the Master.”
Old Jerry, the cobbler, came next — poor old clumsy Jerry. But as he hobbled up the steps, the angel’s face blazed with light, and he smiled at him and led him to the rod. Jerry’s measurement was higher than any of the others. The angel’s voice rang out loud and clear as we heard him say, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
And then, oh, my name came next! I trembled so I could hardly reach the angel, but he put his arm around me and helped me to stand by the rod. As soon as I touched it, I felt myself growing shorter and shorter, and though I stretched and strained every nerve to be as tall as possible, I could only reach Lillian’s mark — the lowest of all — and I was a member of the church for two years!
I grew red with shame and whispered to the angel, “O give me another chance before you mark me in the book as low as this. Tell me how to grow. I will do it all so gladly. Do not put this mark down!” The angel shook his head sadly and said, “The measurement must go down as it is my child; may it be higher when I come next time. This rule will help thee: “Whatsoever thou doest, do it heartily as to the Lord, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ” (1 Cor. 10:31).
With that I burst into tears and suddenly awakened to find myself crying. But oh, I shall never forget that dream! I was so ashamed of my mark. – The Expositor
The Quaker Girl’s Dream was slightly revised and may be reproduced and distributed.