(Growing in God’s grace)
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 3:18
All Scriptures and Scripture references are from the King James Bible.
I dreamed I was on my way to school when suddenly I noticed a great crowd of people on the green. They were hurrying to and fro, and when I asked what all the 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 some time I also went with the crowd to the green.
In the center of the green, on a throne under an elm tree, was the most glorious being I had ever seen. He had white wings and his clothes were bright white. He had the kindest (but the 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, written on a golden scroll, were the words, “The measure of a perfect man” (Psalm 37:37).
The angel held a large book in his hand, in which he wrote the measurements of the people as they came up to be measured when their names were called. A most wonderful thing happened when someone touched the golden measuring rod. Each person shrank or grew according to his true dimensions — his spiritual dimensions, as I soon learned, for the soul’s growth could be clearly seen by that mysterious rod. No one could escape its terrible accuracy.
I did not know the first few persons who were measured after I came, 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 would be very high indeed. But when she touched the rod, she began to shrink — 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 good works, which can be seen of men, had not hindered 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 Betsy L., the poor, thin, little seamstress. I never was more astonished in my life than when she stood by the rod. She immediately grew in height until 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” (Matthew 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 her apparel was quite overshadowed by the angel’s glittering robe. 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 Peter 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 becoming 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 Corinthians 10:31). With that I burst into tears, and then I woke up to find myself crying. But oh, I shall never forget that dream! I was so ashamed of my mark. – The Expositor
Revised from an old tract